- Mental Health
Why Our Bodies Don't Obey Us
With a Mind of Its Own
Some decades back, while I was still new to meditation practice and mental self-discipline, I ran across an obstacle to a total relaxation, which was not so noticeable in my mind as it was all over my body.
Never before had I paid so much attention to the fact how body wants to feel the way it wants to feel. In short, it didn't seem to care much that I wanted it free of any tensions and flexible, with all muscles loose except for the ones that were in some use. I remember how clumsy were my attempts to completely let go during my meditation sessions.
So I have a pretty clear picture these days how people are deceiving themselves when they think that they are "relaxing". While they may feel "more relaxed" than before, that doesn't mean being really relaxed. Body, with its nervous system and endocrine glands just insists on a level of stress no matter what we want it to do. It is a truly disobedient body, and as we will see later on - we can't really blame it for not listening to our conscious choices.
Too Busy Observing to Notice the Heat
The following couple of examples will show how our body is willing to listen to our right brain hemisphere which is not verbal, but more abstract, dealing with metaphors, pictures, feelings, and impressions. So, it may not care about that conscious, rational, and logical part of our brain, but will readily cater to images.
Let's start with that unforgettable vacation my wife and I had in Cancun, Mexico, for our Silver Anniversary, quarter of century ago. Beside being pampered by all that cultivated touristic ambient along the Zona Hoteliera, we also gave ourselves a special treat to visit the ancient Mayan ruins Chi-che-nitza.
Anybody who ever spent some time in the jungle climate of Yucatan must relate to it, with that air thick with moisture and heat that could be a little more than someone coming from Canada might find comfortable.
But, guess what: we were so absorbed with the sights of those ruins, that even climbing up the steep El Castillo pyramid didn't seem to be much of a trouble. Not to forget those high stair on the inside of the pyramid, the limestone walls of the stairwell sweating with humidity. I don't remember even once having to wipe the sweat off my face, despite that sauna-like environment.
Could it be that I was so absorbed by all those mysterious sights and narration of the guide that my body felt so comfortable? Well, I found it out soon enough after returning from our trip.
Work and Heat - another Story Altogether
Then we came back home, and Southern Ontario, with summers not nearly as humid as that jungle ambient of Yucatan, still greeting us with its typical haze and humidity. My rude awakening from the holiday found me sitting again in my tool crib of that huge machine shop, not doing much physically - just issuing and receiving tools and logging it all in computer.
But, why was I sweating so much now? There was nothing of that Yucatan sauna around me, and I was not even particularly stressed out. Was it the sound of those hundred machines that ear plugs could hardly make any different? Was it the fact that I was not mystified by the culture of Maya, but looked instead at a half showing ass of a fat machinist bending down?
Well, yes, all of the above. My body, instead of feeling rested after the holiday as I wanted it to be, chose to feel all that discomfort dictated by the prosaic and crude environment of a machine shop stinking on machine oil, the shop dust and metal being cut, shaved, and polished.
It didn't help much as I was answering all those questions about my holiday, reviving the scenes in my mind - my body preferred feeling lousy, hot, and sweaty.
To Ache or Not to Ache
If you happen to be a soccer fan - which may also apply to other rough sports - you must have witnessed innumerable instances of players being brutally kicked, tripped, elbowed, or accidentally punched in the face. Well, if I ever happened to fall like that with my full weight like a sack of potatoes, they would have to pick me up with a shovel.
But that guy just makes a painful grimace, gets up and keeps running like chased by a bear or something. What in the world happened to that pain? It's like a voice somewhere inside told his body: "We can't afford to be in pain now" - and body obeyed.
Now, it's easy to imagine that same guy at his home, and his wife asking him to tidy up the garage. Since the "king in his castle" always has the last word, he says "Yes, dear", and gets ready to do it. But then he accidentally hits his toes, and there goes a verbal string of obscenities and moaning as if he was ready for the Emergency Ward. Where is that same voice now, telling him: "We can't afford any pain now"?
Indeed, it appears as if our bodies are quite selective about when to make a big deal of a pain and when to ignore it. Situations like rough games or those on a battlefield make our bodies pump quite a dose of adrenaline into our bloodstream to prevent pain in case of a body damage. But when we consciously want to stop the pain, it's laughing at our demand.
Conscious Negativities and Confusion
Why is our body so disobedient to our conscious choices? Let's put it this way: if you had a boss who didn't really have a clear picture of what he wants, with whimsical shifting from one extreme to another in his intentions - would you take him seriously?
Our body is taking seriously its survival. That's why it responds only to those fixed subconscious programs and strategies that have proven themselves to be useful. At times we tend to screw up even those by instilling wrong habits, and making our body believe that it's a part of our survival kit - like smoking, overeating, or anything else of that kind.
Well, body can forgive a lot before it starts rebelling with a condition or a sickness - but one thing is sure, it doesn't see our conscious mind as qualified or even friendly for that matter, so it ignores our conscious demands upon it.
Instead, it picks out from our environment those impressions, symbolisms, images, and metaphorical significances as guiding lights. It will allow us to use our voluntary muscles as we wish, but not much above that.
Ask your body to give you some more circulation when you are cold, or make you cool when you are hot, or to stop a pain, or to give you more energy - and you can bet it will laugh at you.
Body is a goal-striving mechanism, and it want some clear, life-promoting directives. When we feed it much of what we "don't" want, we get more of the same, because body doesn't understand a negation, a lack, it only follows images that are prevailing in our mind.
Hence that saying: "When imagination and will power clash, it's imagination that wins." So, when we are hot, we are so dominated by that image of being hot that body takes it as our objective, being a goal striving mechanism.
That's why we can't establish a clear connection with our executive subconscious mind that would obey without any hesitation - of course, except during a very deep stage of hypnosis where we could even slow down our heart rate and affect other functions of our body. In that state we enjoy a one pointed concentration, and body knows exactly what is expected from it.
Now, without going ambitious to achieve that level of self-hypnosis, we could still increase our overall positive cooperation between our conscious and unconscious mind (meaning body's controls) - by practicing awareness of what we do want, and dismissing those images of what we don't want in our life.
Scientists are telling us that some 80% of all our daily thinking is negative, which doesn't sound like being aware of what we want. So, let's try to make our bodies more obedient, not by being masters of self-hypnosis, or yogi masters, or shaolin monks. We don't have to be that advanced, but wouldn't it be nice to see our bodies cater more to our conscious choices? Remember, our hidden potential is allowing us to do so much more than we are aware of.