Tag Archives: body

The Full Human Experience

Have you ever questioned what it is to be human? Do you ever wonder whether there is more to this human experience? When you hear or read about people’s peak experiences do they seem familiar to you or are they totally alien, leaving you wondering what you are missing?

 

The work that Avis and Brown is engaged in is about energy. In particular the energy of the mind, body, soul and spirit. What does that mean and in particular what relevance does it have for the human experience? “Mind, body and spirit” is a phrase that has become common in our parlance and there are countless courses and books about these three aspects of life. The work that both Avis and Brown does  is about the three elements of the human experience: mind, body and soul, how they relate to the fourth element of our work, spirit, and the way in which these four are inter- related through energy.

 

As you can see from the diagram below it depicts that mind, body and soul are connected. Put all three of these circles in relationship with each other and you have the human experience. How full that human experience is depends of the size of the circles and how well balanced they are. You tend to favour one or two of the circles and neglect the others- which one’s they are depends on your upbringing, your training and your desire to develop and cultivate these circles. Speaking for myself I have worked hard throughout my life on the physical and mental circles and less so on the soul aspect of my being. I think Lynette would agree with me if we said she has worked hard on her mental and soul circles and less so on her physical. We work on all three to some degree- the question is how powerful is each circle and how well balanced the three are in relation to each other?

 

The human experience is more than just a physical journey through the world in which we feel the physical sensations of our environment. Neither is it simply a mental exercise to be intellectualized through or an emotional experience simply to be felt. Nor is life simply an ethereal experience in which you ignore the physical world and separate your self from others. All three of these aspects are essential to the human experience and life can feel stale, hollow and meaningless if you are lacking in any one of these. The ideal relates to what Buddha referred to as “The Middle Way”, towards connection and being centred- to your self, others and the world around you.

 

By all means enjoy the physical experience of the world as much as you wish- explore new places, meet new people, have new experiences. Enjoy food, physical exercise, sexual intimacy, stillness and movement. Become as physically strong, flexible and co- ordinated as you want, run marathons, swim oceans, wrap your leg over your head and dance the night away. The physical body is also a wonderful tool of sensation- the feeling of movement, thought, sensuality and emotion in the body is a powerful intuitive voice that could be referred to as Body Wisdom and requires a connection to, and awareness of, the body. To submit to your bodily experience connects you to something much larger, beyond thought and into pure movement and presence.

 

Your mind allows you to perceive the world through the lens of your values and beliefs, built upon the foundation of your traditions, experience and culture. Emotion gives you a richness to life that can be both joyful and painful. There is much learning and growth that can come from these emotional experiences. How and what you learn depends on your mind- set. The depth of feeling and emotion becomes limited if you are not willing to connect within or outward towards others. If you feel isolated you do not feel part of the great community of humanity that is there for us all to take part in as actively and as consciously as we choose. The mind is also creative as well as logical and reason- based. Again, we tend to favour one aspect of the mind or the other. In my experience, cultivating both the logical and creative sides of the mind gives you a greater breadth of learning, productivity and engagement. Here the mind begins to touch into intuition, instinct and the ability to connect into energies and forces that are much larger.

 

The third circle, the soul, is part of the energy centres of the being such as the chakras and meridians. Connecting to your soul connects you to your self, another route to your inner wisdom and growing experience and learning. Cultivate this with meditation, yoga, chi gong, martial arts and Reiki. Our book, Nourish the Flame Within, is full of meditations that nurture the soul and make it more powerful. The soul allows you to connect to others, facilitating empathy, compassion and connection to humanity.

The full human experience is the total integration of mind, body and soul.

The full human experience is the total integration of mind, body and soul.

There are exercises you can practice that allow to you consciously cultivate connecting all three circles at the same time. Some forms of martial arts, yoga, Reiki and dance will do this. Often it is good to cultivate one circle at a time such as some forms of meditation that get you to calm the mind and body so that you can energise the soul of your being. Often, you can work with two circles, so a workout may well work the mind and the body, or a walk in nature will cultivate the body and the soul. In truth, it is impossible to separate the three circles, as they are an integrated part of the human experience. Activities will favour one or two circles over the others.

 

Perhaps the key is being aware and working on developing the weaker circle(s) so that you become more balanced and whole. Then, you will have a more integrated experience with all the activities you do, making your life more engaging for the body, mind and soul. Only by consciously working on these circles can you work towards having a progressively more fulfilling and meaningful human experience. Get this combination of three circles right and you have deep human experience, where you become aware of something much larger than your self, perhaps even larger than the people you are sharing the experience with. You are not just engaging one circle, or even two circles. In fact you are engaging all three circles. Access your connection to Spirit through any of the circles and it will power up all three. Now you know you are connected not just to your self and to others. You are also connected to something bigger that feels powerful and makes you feel energized throughout your being.

 

We’d love to hear from you and find out how you work on developing your circles and how this has lead to you living more fully, freely and in a more connected and peaceful way. Please leave your comments in the box at the bottom of the page and share your experiences, insights and knowledge.

The Relationship between Mind, Body and Subtle Energy

What is the relationship between the mind, body and subtle energy or energetics? We speak about them separately, when in fact they are intertwined, each merging into the other, fuelling one another, fed by each other in an endless flow of energy and power.

The Mind

The mind is a complex combination of conscious and subconscious processing, driven by cells stimulated by hormones and neuropeptides that create electrical impulses. These impulses act in a coordinated way that allow your body to work as a whole as the electrical activity spreads from the brain throughout the body allowing you to breathe, balance, pump blood around the body and so much more. Activity of the brain and the central and peripheral nervous systems are forms of energy that create networks and fields that pass through the body and beyond.

The body is energy too.

The body is energy too.

 

The Body

The body itself is energy too. Every protein, carbohydrate and fatty acid is energy converting from one form into another in the more than 100, 000 chemical reactions happening in each of the 50 trillion cells of your body every second. Somehow these reactions are co- ordinated in a way that keeps you alive, functioning, learning, growing, repairing, fending off infection, maintaining health and solving problems.

 

 

Subtle Energy or Energetics

You also have the subtle energy networks, like the meridians and chakras. These systems of electromagnetic energy run through the body supporting, energising, nourishing, balancing and communicating within the body and beyond.

How do they interact?

All three of these systems, the mind, body and subtle energy are entwined and impossible to truly prise apart. These systems are in relationship as each one feeds and is fed by the other.

The complexity of this arrangement was recently brought home to me in a workshop I ran in which I tried to get participants to experience each of these in turn and separately from each other. There was no way to do this because of this connection and relationship between them. What we did discover is that placing your awareness on one brings the sensations and feelings of say the body, to the fore and allows you to focus on it and gain insight into the wisdom residing there.

This happens in all three areas and we found that some participants favoured the mind and body over the subtle energy, or subtle energy and body over the mind, or mind and subtle energy over the body. Each combination works and has value and is necessary from time to time and in different circumstances.

In discussion we decided that the energy of the three systems , mind, body and subtle energy could be brought into balance through attention, intention and awareness. This balance generates, enhances and maintains perfect health.

In truth the model is more fluid, like a triangle hovering in the air, tilting and moving according to where the attention, intention and awareness are placed. Predominantly we are out of balance, moving in certain directions then readjusting by focussing on others.

For example, you can study or work very hard for long hours which tilts your triangle on one corner, pulling the body and subtle energy off centre. A workout or gentle exercise brings the body to centre and meditation brings the subtle energy to centre and you have balance. This is over simplistic and demonstrates how you can take daily action to serve each energy system and by doing so keep the whole in balance. There are many combinations.

Life is a complex combination of all these relationships. Having a sense of balance of these three energy systems is important so that you are aware of where you are lacking and in need of attention, rejuvenation and recuperation.

The mind can be balanced through creativity (writing, art, sculpture) and learning. Meditation can bring the mind to a more calm state and away from the frenetic pace of daily living.

Subtle Energy is electro- magnetic, flowing within the body and beyond

Subtle Energy is electro- magnetic, flowing within the body and beyond

The body can be balanced through exercise, stretching, strengthening and for awareness to be brought to it. Sometimes relaxation is important so meditation can be great for the body too. Holding tension on the body is a common experience in our modern age. Tension limits movement and energy flow in mind, body and subtle energy systems so it is important to address issues of tension that build over time.

For subtle energy, activities of connection are essential for balance such as meditation, chi gong, martial arts, yoga etc. Depleted subtle energy can be brought to balance using reiki and other energy healing modalities. The meditations in Nourish the Flame Within specifically address drawing universal energy (white light energy) into the body to increase the subtle energy levels and flow in the body.

Over to You

We’d love to hear from you and learn what you have discovered and experienced about keeping your health and energy in balance. We encourage you to share it as well to provide answers to common questions people have about health, well- being and connection to themselves, others and the world at large. If you have read our book Nourish the Flame Within and you have done any of the exercises that improve health, connection and well- being we’d love to hear your feedback.

Diet, environment, the company you keep, your everyday activities and the mind set you have as you are doing them as well as the job you do all affect the energies of the mind, body and subtle energy systems. How do you keep balance? Do you know when you are out of balance? What are the signs? What do you do to bring your self to balance?

Energy Therapy- Reflexology (Part 4)

Reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China ad was introduced to the West in 20th century.

Reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China ad was introduced to the West in 20th century.

A brief history of Reflexology

According to the Association of Reflexology website, “Whilst the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, this therapy was not introduced to the West until Dr William Fitzgerald developed ‘Zone therapy’. He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.

In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.”

The Theory of Reflexology

There are different schools of thought as to how manipulating the feet and hands can affect the wellness of the rest of the body.  One idea is that the nerve endings in the feet and hands are connected to particular organs and regions of the body.  Stimulating these nerves through massage can have a balancing effect on the organs or glands to which they are connected. Meridians are another way in which the feet and hands are connected to other parts of the body.  These are lines that run through the body along which Chi (the universal energy force) flows.  In Taoist tradition the belief is that free- flowing, unblocked Chi means the body is balanced and healthy physically, mentally and spiritually.

The truth is probably a mixture of these schools of thought.  Because nerve endings and meridians terminate in the hands and feet, a reflexologist is stimulating both nerve endings and meridians and affecting and influencing both. Perhaps the school you ascribe to depends on the belief system with which you feel most comfortable?  Personally I am happy with both the western, medicine based explanation of nerve endings and the eastern, Taoist theory of meridians.

Either way, Reflexology theory states that applying pressure to certain points on the hands or feet affects the energy flow of the body in some way.  The role of the practitioner is not to cure, diagnose or prescribe, but rather to help the body to restore its balance naturally.  That is why the practitioner takes a holistic view of the client’s health and tailors each treatment to the client’s individual needs, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting their wellbeing.

My Reflexology practitioner, Natasha Sharpin, works from The Salus Wellness Clinic in Cambridge, UK, a treatment centre for many complementary therapists near the city centre.

My Reflexology Session

The session started with some basic questions about health and personal details.  As I answered, Natasha took notes.  I began to relax as the soft music playing on the iPod and the calming environment began to take its hold.  This seemed to coincide with more probing questions about diet, overall well- being and even dreams that I have.  Although Natasha knew that I was in her treatment room to be able to write a piece for our blog, she asked to come to the session with an issue that I would like help in resolving.  I have always suffered from tension in the neck, shoulders and stomach areas and wondered if Reflexology could help.

Once Natasha was satisfied that I had painted a picture of my general state, she asked me to go over to the treatment chair.  Through a series of slow electrically driven movements, the chair moves you from a vertical position to a near- horizontal pose that is extremely relaxing and makes it easier for the Reflexologist to work with your feet.  Natasha offered me a blanket to keep me warm as I was going to be still for about 45 minutes.  I was fully clothed save for my shoes and socks.  Firstly, Natasha cleaned my feet with an alcohol-free swab and then she began looking and studying my feet!  She started telling me things about my body that I had not mentioned in the earlier part of the session, in particular the tension in my neck and shoulders and in my right hip.  I was intrigued and surprised that so much information could be gleaned from the feet!

The next part of the treatment was the foot work. It was very relaxing and at times surprisingly painful (in that way that you feel it is really doing you good).  For the first few minutes Natasha slowly and precisely manipulated my feet, as she instructed me to breathe in long, slow breaths to aid relaxation.  As the session progressed, the thumb pressure went into some really tender places that corresponded to the areas of tension in my body.  Above and beyond the wonderful sensation of having my feet massaged and the relaxing feeling it left my body in, I felt more aware of the stresses and strains I put my feet under and how this may have an impact on my body as a whole, as well as the reverse effect.  The fact that the effects of stresses that the body is under manifests in the feet should not really be a surprise, as we are fully integrated beings influenced and effected in many subtle and intricate ways.

After the massage session, Natasha and I briefly discussed some of the things I could do to support the benefits of the session in my own time.  These included using a hand reflex point in the heel of the hand below the thumb that stimulates the reflex point to the adrenals leading to reduced stress.  Using strategies of stress relief and tension release have a holistic effect on the body, the perfect complement to the Reflexology session.

Reflection

I found the Reflexology session with Natasha very beneficial.  During the session and after I felt much of the tension in my body significantly reduced and so better able to manage the stress I feel. Although it would be better to have regular sessions to support the body in reaching balance and harmony, as is the case with most health issues, it is not necessarily practical financially or with respect to our busy schedules.  However, being given tips about how to manage my own stress and tension using reflexology means that I am empowered to take control and responsibility for my own health. With that said I did book in for a few weeks later.

Stress and tension are both major contributors to illness.  It stands to reason that learning effective ways to manage one’s stress levels is really important for long term health and well- being.  Rather than reaching for a cigarette, a pint of beer or a glass of wine or even popping pills when we feel stressed, would it not be better for our overall health to learn simple techniques to relax and calm the mind and body? Accessible tricks like the one’s I learned in my Reflexology session really help me manage stress, as well as meditation, going for a walk in the countryside, playing music or doing exercise.  All these things are free or very cheap.  Certainly cheaper than cigarettes and some alcohols and better for you in the long- term.

My Family recently had a health scare.  We have a history of high cholesterol and my brother was recently fitted with stents to keep open some of the arteries leading to his heart.  He had a suspected heart attack and collapsed in his late 50s.  He is well now and learning to manage his diet better to reduce his cholesterol and so reduce the likelihood of a repeat event.  Naturally this shocked me and I felt motivated to look at my diet and life style and see where changes could be made to reduce my own risk of illness related to high cholesterol.

I was staggered at how poor my health was compared to what I imagined.  I was much more over-weight than I imagined, I had high blood pressure and I had high cholesterol levels.  These things had risen so slowly I did not realise my health was in danger.  My brother’s heart attack was the wake-up call I needed.  In six months I had reduced all these symptoms to much healthier levels and I felt so much better for it.  Almost two years later I am still following a healthier life-style, based on a good understanding of my diet, the effect certain foods have on me, exercise as well as ways to manage the stresses I face during my life.

I think therapies such as Reflexology are powerful tools to help manage stress and the symptoms of stress.

Reflexology works better for us if we are prepared to make the necessary health changes as well.  Perhaps the inevitable consequences of aging are not so inevitable after all, if we take control of our life-style early in life and reduce the stress and tension that can lead to age related ailments later in life.  I for one believe in this self- responsibility and I am happy to use Reflexology as a means to help me manage my health and well-being more effectively.  I am looking forward to my next session.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

My thanks go to Natasha Sharpin, founder of Reflex- aaah, who kindly gave me a Reflexology session and taught me so much about Reflexology.  Natasha’s details can be found at www.reflex-aaah.co.uk and www.salus-wellness.com.