Thursday, January 04, 2007

Here's an excerpt from Dr. John Eaton, who believes that the body has important messages to share with us. I think he articulates his view in a very interesting way. Viewing the body as another form of brain is not new. As scientists continue to explore this realm, we may see much more work like Dr. Eaton's, helping us to apply this perspective in our daily lives.

How Bodymind works

Bodymind is the intelligence of the body, working through the Brain, the Nervous System, the Glands, the cells and the Immune system. Its primary function is to ensure the safety of the individual and to maximize health and happiness. There are a variety of ways in which Bodymind works towards this and here are just a few:
• Renewing cells and tissues
• Converting food into energy
• Refreshing the system with oxygen
• Repairing damage to bones, skin and the organs
• Harmonizing the different body functions
• Guarding against infection
• Using emotions to guide the person towards action
• Can use symptoms of certain kinds to let the person know she is in
danger when emotions are not being resolved.

In each case we can see Bodymind working towards our survival. In the case of the last two functions, Bodymind is protecting us in a different way. It is using emotions and then (as a last resort) certain kinds of symptom to communicate to us that we are at risk of harm from the environment. The wisdom of Bodymind consists in picking up information about situations going on out there and then sending emotional signals through to us to tell us what to do about them.

One important function carried out by the emotional brain is to provide a kind of `emotional radar' in which information about the environment is matched to a cellular memory, triggering an emotional opinion about what is happening, which then leads to production of an emotion in order to encourage, warn, guide and protect the

For example, someone shouts at you. Before you are conscious of the fact the Thalamus has already registered that there is a red face moving towards you, the voice is loud, and your personal space is being invaded. Immediately the Amygdala presses the alarm button on the nervous system and you are instantly aroused for action. Meanwhile, the Hippocampus matches information from the Thalamus against past experiences of teachers/parents shouting at you and sends a signal to the Hypothalamus to co-ordinate a fear response (or an anger response, or both). Bodymind then waits for you to take protective action and prepare for self-assertion. Through the Limbic system and the Hypothalamus, Bodymind can influence the glands, the immune system, the autonomic nervous system, the skin, muscles, gut, heart, circulation and breathing. In this way we can notice the intimate connection between emotions and physical state. And, by inference, between emotional health and physical health.

Bodymind and the emotions

Here are two closely linked emotions which have to do with long-term survival:

Excitement. Bodymind is confirming to us that the activity we are moving towards is of great value to us and wants to encourage us to do so with urgency.

Joy. Bodymind is confirming that we are doing things (or engaging in relationships) that are absolutely right for us. Bodymind is also urging us to share our pleasure and satisfaction with other people, so as to deepen our relationship with them. Sharing reinforces the emotion of joy.

The regular production of excitement and joy are vital to health because they confirm that we are pursuing the kind of life that is best suited to us and in which there is at least one relationship based on love, worthwhile work and opportunities for us to selfactualize, meaning that we are making the optimum use of the skills, talents and wisdom we were endowed with at birth. These emotions are also linked to the release of endorphins.
You can read more of Dr. Eaton's work at

And remember, the action of smiling sends a signal to the brain that it is time to feel happiness. Just one little shift in reverse.

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