Mind, body and spirit or consciousness are what create us and allow the human experience to thrive. The miracle of body and the precision with which it functions is actually quite underrated!
Imagine when we are in a bad mood and decide today I couldn’t be bothered to breathe or too busy to make my kidneys filter! Luckily for us, our body functions non stop every millisecond, mostly without our conscious awareness or we would be long gone if it were for us to consciously manage it!
So what manages the Autonomic or Involuntary aspect of our physical body? And can our awareness, our thinking , beliefs and behaviour influence our health and wellbeing?
To answer this simple yet profound question we will have to begin by removing the mind – body disconnect which we have accepted so passively about our own selves.
We are constantly processing and absorbing information from our environment. Our active and passive interactions are creating our opinions , beliefs and personalities. Our own interpretation of events and life determines our health and wellbeing and the good news is we can participate actively in creating this shift for ourselves by understanding some facts about our mind and body.
It is a scientific fact that we have a Stress response and a Relaxation response determining our actions and reactions.
The Stress response also called the Fight or Flight response or the Survival mechanism, enabling people to react quickly to life-threatening situations, is triggered by a branch of our nervous system called the Sympathetic Nervous System.
This is perhaps what kept our species alive. We are descendants of our ancestors who successfully survived the gruelling outdoors; battling all kinds of threats including that of predators.The sympathetic nervous system kicks in when there is acute stress and releases hormones which cause a rush of blood supply to essential group of muscles causing us to either run or react to save ourselves from the likes of a venomous snake or a hunting mammal.
The Stress, in the 21st century, comes more in the form of an unpaid bill or a difficult relationship and the same physiological response kicks in, not differentiating an aggressive tiger from a difficult boss!
The stress response essential to our facing a situation, becomes a problem when the stress is chronic, as often it is these days.
Chronic stress, is like a constant pedal on our body’s coping response resulting in a persistent surge of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that can damage blood vessels and arteries, increasing blood pressure and raising the risk of heart attack or stroke and worsening any pre existing health condition!
Essential to our survival and to counter the effects of chronic stress is the Relaxation response triggered by the Parasympathetic Nervous system. This branch of our Autonomic Nervous System, through various physiological processes, is associated with decrease in oxygen consumption, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, along with an increased sense of well-being and happiness, which can be voluntarily elicited.
There is a scientifically proven significant alteration in our internal bio-chemistry or the hormones released in our body when relaxation response is triggered, like the reduction in the stress hormone cortisol and increase in levels of oxytocin.
Considering that the Autonomic nervous system, that orchestrates both these responses, is not in our conscious control. The next logical question that arises is, what then manages these crucial responses.
Can the Subconscious manage it? What is the Subconscious? How can we influence it and create conducive environment, where our cells can thrive and heal. How can our Subconscious enable us to release blocks, patterns, habits and behaviours that trap us and keep us stuck in life ?
Watch out this space, until the next blog post, when we go deeper into our very own subconscious minds to answer these intriguing questions.