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Intro: Mind Body Ecosystem Explained

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders,

pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short.

There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.

INTRODUCTION: Suspend Disbelief

I moved through the world in a full sprint, racing to prove my worth before my body gave out. A strategy, born in the mind of a teenager that understood that her disabled body was not what this world was looking for. A strategy that carried me to middle age in a state of exhaustion, ennui, and autoimmune disease.

The double edge sword of living in a disabled body lies in the vehement self-correction. There is very little tolerance for denial of dissonance. It’s the fortifying agitation needed to navigate a world that does not want my full self in it.

The suffering that is experiencing life as a threat while in a body with little tolerance for distress, propels me on a spiritual, physical and intellectual pursuit to find a better way, a more satisfying paradigm.

My former approach relied heavily on tenants of intellectualism and disembodiment. My desires and expectations dragging my body along for the ride. The existence of a spirit denied. But, as it turns out, my body will not be controlled, and my spirit will not be ignored.

I am learning my mind body and spirit are equal parts of my whole, at their best flowing and synergizing in harmony. Each part interdependent but with different needs and language and modes of operating. Longing to be valued individually while in communion with the whole.

What I’ve been drawn to intuitively, or more accurately repeatedly smacked over the head with, does in fact intersect with last 30 years of neuroscientific work. Even while well-grounded in repetitive scientific study, this work has yet to surface into the mainstream consciousness. Likely because, if we were to integrate the information it would require us to reexamine how we conduct ourselves at every level.

In order to explore possible new paradigms, I first must be willing to suspend my disbelief, be willing to temporarily put aside what I “know”, to make room for the possibility of something new. In this case, I needed to rethink three major pillars of my ways:

1. rethink My attachment to the valor of intellect and the incompetency of feeling. My old paradigm stipulates that “I” am my “intellect” AND I (intellect) must be in struggle with feeling. Specifically, any feeling I “shouldn’t” be having. But, neuroscientifically, this is not even a physical possibility. In the words of Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., “Most of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, but we are actually feeling creatures that think.”

2. rethink The Calvinist belief that humans are fundamentally destructive hedonistic animals. That we can only strive toward good through rigid internal and external discipline. It is a commonly held belief that propels how we run our society. But also, runs counter not only to neuroscience but evolution. How would an inherently self-destructive species ever be able to evolve and survive as we have? In reality, humans are hard wired to be fundamentally good – to seek the best interest of the individual and the whole. We are not deficient when we display destructive and disconnective behaviors, instead, something has gotten in the way of our naturally good state.

3. rethink A desire of separateness and independence of mind body and spirit. Our bodies are not, as Jen Hatmaker puts it, “just some unfortunate vessel carrying [our] brain[s] around.” Our lived experience instead emerges from the complex ecosystem contained in and managed by our bodies, including our energy-in-motion emotions. Our bodies are the very interface that allows our spirit to interact with this world. This change opens an existential pandora’s box that classic philosophers attempted to close long ago. Despite the inconvenience, it is an idea that stands in direct conflict with the conclusions of the last 30 years of neuroscientific work.

What is to follow is my understanding of the mind body ecosystem as it relates to how we experience the world and the ways in which we can influence our experience. It’s an update to our operational model of how we may move through the world in a more easeful and fulfilling way.

5 Post Series: (Rolling out Weekly)

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