Some aching in my lower back caused me to recently go see my dear chiropractor, Dr. John. He gave me a series of exercises to do in which I have to remain more or less flat on my back for over a half hour at a time. I checked out an audiobook by Christiane Northrup, “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” (Hay House, 2007) at my local public library – where I also happen to work. I figured I could listen to the discs while my ice pack was doing its work on my lumbar region.
A brief summary in our library catalog describes the content of this book in the following few words: “how thoughts, beliefs, emotions can have organ-specific consequences and which ones promote health and well-being; why a woman’s own intuitive understanding of her body is as important as her doctor’s assessment”. Lately, it seems that research has been indicating that our bodies possess not only intelligence on a cellular level, but also that each of our cells communicates not only with other cells but with the world at large.
For example, I recently heard on a local National Public Radio station that each of our internal organs possesses an internal clock, coordinating our circadian rhythms and regulating our endocrine system. Basically, it would seem that our brain is not one great processor running everything from “above”. Our bodies are a great concert synchronized with not only our feelings, but with every bit of input coming from without – other people, events, feelings, thoughts occurring around us and around the world.
In Ms. Northrup’s book, she mentions a study in which rabbits were used to see how the prolonged consumption of fast foods, such as McDonald’s burgers and fries or doughnuts affect the cardiovascular system – heart and arteries. The rabbits were fed by various groups of students during the course of the study. At the term of the study, the animals were sadly sacrificed so that researchers could look at the effects of their diet on their organs. They found, oddly enough, that one of the groups of rabbits which had been fed exclusively on the high fat, high sugar diet remained elusively without any traces of cardiovascular disease. It was determined, after the groups of students were interrogated as to their methods of feeding of the animals, that these rabbits had been petted and regularly received affection from their caregivers before being given their meal of burgers and fries. Basically, the love that they received kept their hearts healthy in spite of the inappropriate and unhealthy diet which they were fed.
I was immediately fascinated by this tidbit. Americans obsess continuously about the finer points of diet and exercise – what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, or how much to eat or not eat…yet little is expressed about how people rarely spend time talking to one another at the table…or how little time most people spend lovingly preparing meals for one another! What if how our table is set is just as important as the food on the plates? What if the amount of thought and loving feelings poured into preparing a meal have as much nutritional value as the amount of vitamins, minerals, or proteins contained in that dish? Love may well be the missing ingredient that is making many of us ill. Yes, plastics, chemicals, pesticides, food additives, preservatives, and environmental toxins abound. And yes, we do live in such a fast-paced and materialistic world in which science is supposed to feed us all the answers. And the presence of so many toxins is in fact a confirmation of the lack of sufficient love in our world…for our environment. Empathy breeds care, and care is necessary for artful living.
As it turns out, our intestines are particularly in tune with our thoughts, and some have said that the gut is a second brain. So maybe we should worry a little bit less about what we eat, and care a little bit more each day about how we receive and prepare our food and one another. We all want and need to be loved and attended to, and food is certainly one of the most beautiful and satisfying ways to show love and appreciation for the physical life we enjoy on this earthly plane. Your stomach knows what you are thinking and feeling, and like your heart, it is whispering in your ear…love me, feed me…