The Power of Physiology
It can be said that our physiology determines how we feel. If our bodies felt amazing, it would reflect in our attitudes and behaviour. If our health is good, we are fully rested and we are not full of toxins, we will feel naturally good! So a solid foundation in health is vital. This site is largely dedicated to this goal. However, we can't passively expect health to be a given. It requires work (for those of us who haven't kept exceptional habits since birth). Too many people have abusive and destructive lifestyles, and instead of focussing on improving their general health and sense of wellbeing, tend to stick to the poor lifestyle and cover up its ill effects by caffeine consumption, comfort eating, alcohol, illegal drugs and anti-depressants. These strategies unfortunately conspire to make the person feel worse and not better, and temporary symptom relief rather than a cure for the problem. Our physiology affects the way we focus and ultimately affects our core beliefs. If you feel physically tired or poor all the time, and tense, you are unlikely to formulate many positive world beliefs, appreciate things around you, and ultimately feel good about yourself! Try an experiment. Sit on a chair and cross your arms and legs. You can try crossing your legs and having them underneath you or stretched out in front of you. Now uncross your arms and uncross your legs and keep an open and upright posture, with feet on floor directly below your knees and knees apart. Notice any differences you feel. It is unlikely that you will feel positive if your arms and legs are crossed. The physiology triggers our state of mind. There are of course many other triggers and mental associations that trigger how we feel, but our physiology is very important. We often habitually cross our arms or legs, or put our hands in our pockets, or touch our face when we talk to people, or lean onto one leg, as we feel 'comfortable' there, or rather we are 'outside of comfort zone' if we keep an open, non-defensive, confident posture, simply because we are not used to it. Such habits require conscious effort to be broken.
Some faiths use physiology to induce states of enlightenment, whereas others are much more intellectually based and almost completely ignore the body entirely in their teachings. For example, Zen Buddhism applied to martial arts, involves physical discipline, suppleness (through relaxation, proper breathing, stretching and flowing movement)), physical and nervous system development, increasing levels of concentration and awareness, and promoting calm. Some branches of certain faiths incorporate health and dietary disciplines also. Many mainstream religions seem to have adopted modern consumerism unquestionably with respect to health and diet, and all its associated pitfalls. The use of physiology not only alters our state of mind, but can also move our consciousness away from the head (where members of Western societies spend most of their time) to the whole body. It is not uncommon for people to keep their consciousness in their head most of the time, and taking it down to their private parts at certain times (!), whilst being rather unaware of what the body is doing and overriding the body's natural sensations and communication.
The mind is affected by the level of relaxation of the muscles, and the posture. The mind also affects the level of muscle tension and the posture. Excessive tension and rigidity in the body affects the mind and may cause excessive stress and rigidity in thinking. Physical and muscular relaxation is discussed in the Health Section in the Skeletal page.
Posture and how we use our body moment to moment is also very important in determining how we feel. If we hold our head down, slouch, cross our arms, cross our legs, and tense our shoulders, we are not going to feel good, certain, positive, energetic and happy. If we pull our shoulders back, keep a straight back, keep our arms and legs uncrossed and relaxed, hold one's head up and look straight ahead and not down at the floor, then we are likely to feel much better and more positive. It is not militaristic, it is just basic physiology. The human body was not meant to contorted! For more information about this, please see the posture page. Clearly if you are a neurotic, self-loathing mess, sitting upright may make you feel slightly better, but you are not going to feel great until you address your focus and beliefs.
Using the right physiology is extremely important when you are making decisions, trying to communicate effectively with others, learning and studying, and also when you are trying to work on changing beliefs and your focus and conditioning yourself.
It has been determined experimentally that physical contact in the right context, for example, touch, hugging, holding hands or massaging helps to reduce stress levels, reduce perceived sense of threat, and to increase relaxation and well being; and can have an immediate beneficial effect on our physiology. Conversely, unwelcome physical contact can be stressful for many people. It may well be that any physical therapy that involves massaging or close physical contact may be beneficial for relaxation and wellbeing. How much is the placebo effect, the effect of physical contact, the environment treatments are held in (smells, atmosphere, reassuring technical wallcharts etc.), the personal interaction with the person giving the treatment, and how much is the effect of the actual technique is of course a matter of debate and will vary from treatment to treatment. Of course one does not necessarily need to pay for treatments to get the benefits of touch contact, as one can share pats on the back, hand shaking, hand holding, hugs and other personal physical contact with friends, family and loved ones for free.
© 2006-2014 Fabian Dee