Our bodies are amazing communication devices. If we are willing to listen, our bodies are aligned with the wisdom of our souls to show us what areas of our life need to be cleared and healed. While this may sound too new age to be true, the wisdom of listening to our bodies is the foundation of the world’s oldest healing modalities: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda from India
According to Ayurvedic medicine there are nine rasas – essential emotions – whose balance in the body will ultimately determine your health and well-being. Similarly, one of the basic tenets of TCM is that if you only treat a person’s physical ailments they will return if the underlying mental or emotional state is not addressed.
Western science is at last confirming this ancient knowledge that our bodies have an intelligence that goes beyond rational thought. Dr. Michael Gershon, a professor of cell biology at Columbia University, discovered that there is an actual brain in our gut. In his book “The Second Brain” he explains that listening to your gut is not a metaphor. Scientists now recognize the web of neurons lining the gastrointestinal tract as an independent brain and a new field of medicine, neurogastroenterology, has been created as a result.
Philip Shepherd in his book “New Self, New World” takes Gershon’s research one step further. According to Shepherd there is good reason why we talk about gut instinct. He explains: “If cranial thinking sets us apart from the world, the thinking in the belly joins us to it. If the cranial brain believes itself to be surrounded by a knowable world that can be controlled, the brain in our belly is in touch with the world’s mystery.” In other words, listening to our bodies isn’t just a practical exercise but a deep spiritual practice that brings us face to face with the fact that we are more than just biological entities.
Louise Hays, a founder of the New Thought self-help movement, was one of the first people to systematically present the link between physical ailments and emotional and/or spiritual dis-ease to a Western audience back in 1976.
In her book “Heal Your Life” she proposes that certain emotions are connected to physical parts of our bodies. For example: unresolved anger is stored in our liver; anxiety in our lungs; fear in our kidneys. While Hay’s work resulted from her supposed metaphysical abilities, the results correspond directly to the links that TCM makes between our organs and their corresponding emotions.
The Chinese understood the impact of emotions on the body long ago. Our modern language often reflects this ancient wisdom. For example, the English word anxiety comes from the German root angst – narrow – referring to the narrowing of the bronchial passages. During times of anxiety breath and Qi are constricted, unable to flow easily in and out of the lungs. The benefit of understanding these links is that we can discover where we need to heal our psyche by listening to where our bodies are out of balance.
The keepers of this healing wisdom in Bali have been the Balians, or traditional healers. While the method of diagnosis and treatment may vary, each of them reads the energy of your body to determine what is out of balance physically. The English word emotion stands for “e=energy in motion” and comes from the Latin remover: “to move out, remove, agitate”. If our emotions are flowing then we remain healthy. When we are out of touch with them they become stuck in the body, causing blockages which can eventually make us sick.
Sadly, many of us prefer to silence our body’s wisdom by using painkillers, mood stabilizers or enhancers, and other drugs that shut down its ability to communicate with us. How would your life change if the next time you are tempted to mask symptoms you instead asked, “What is my body trying to tell me?” “What truth have I been avoiding?” “Where am I out of balance in my life?”
There is a magnificence in accepting this philosophy. It offers us the opportunity to literally change our minds and change our lives. More profoundly, it invites us to no longer view the body as merely a machine to be maintained and managed, poked and prodded, drugged and silenced. Instead, we can see the body as a delicate communication device that offers us the opportunity to treat our aches and pains as whispers of the deepest longings of our souls. Listen!