Archive | October, 2013

Why I love my Nissan Leaf

20 Oct

Why I love my Nissan Leaf

Have you ever been doing something that felt really wrong, and it felt so wrong that you were afraid that by doing it you were harming yourself? That’s how I felt driving cars fueled by petroleum. How was I harming myself driving a combustion engine? Well, not only was I polluting the air in my immediate surroundings, causing asthma and other respiratory problems for my neighbors and passing bicyclists; not only was I adding to the American addiction to oil and the devastation that is causing; not only was I creating global warming with my little gas engine; but I was giving myself diseases by worrying about all of the above!  It’s been said that if your actions do not jive with your words and what’s in your heart, you cause discordance in your body. Your life lacks integrity, defined as “soundness” and “wholeness” at its core.

I knew that I wasn’t walking the talk, and that what I could put in my bike panniers was limited, and let’s face it, who wants to bike in the snow? So my husband and I, after thinking about it for a few years and keeping track of the changes in car technology, decided to take the plunge and buy an electric car.  We considered briefly buying a hybrid, but I recognized that the cancer-causing thoughts would be similar, and he agreed- we needed to go whole hog, go in debt and do the right thing!

So, we did it.  And now, we can drive to the airport…and part of the way back before we have to charge the car for 4 hours to get home. When the weather’s cold, the battery’s performance goes down, so we get even less bang for our battery. You wouldn’t believe the amount of planning we have to do to get someplace beyond one charge!  Are there charging stations on the way?  220 or 440? (The difference between a four-hour charge and a half hour charge.) If not, I guess we need to either reconsider the destination, or find a dryer plug somewhere on the way! Can we afford the 4 hour wait to charge? Are there coffee shops around within walking distance?  Or should we go to a movie? Once, we stayed overnight in a hotel, an additional cost to our trip, because the damn car had to charge!  And I could go on along this theme.

And yet…I still love my Leaf! Here’s why:  it’s Q-U-I-E-T. There’s no air or sound pollution to myself or my neighbors. The energy we use is wind-powered (well, we support wind energy for 100% of our electric bill), so we’re not supporting dirty coal-burning electric plants. It looks cool. Its electric engine is SO peppy, I have to breathe deeply when someone ticks me off on the road, to avoid using that powerful pep to vroom around and in front of the offender!  Great power, but in the wrong hands…Planning around trips and charging stations has made me get more familiar with the state of Colorado! And it also requires me to slow down, and to give more thought to where I’m going.

When I drive the Leaf, I’m saying:  we’re not interested in increasing the suffering of our fellow travelers by our actions. My son says, “I can hardly see, the smug is so thick in this car.”  I’d rather create smug than smog, though, any day!  And I guess, that’s why I love my Nissan Leaf: words and actions as one.  One more problem with this car, though- I’m exercising less because I love driving it so much, so I may have to buy clothing a size or two up!

 

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The Mind-Body Connection

12 Oct

I recently returned from a Visceral Manipulation class, in which we explored the link between mind and body, through connecting the brain to issues held in the body. In this class, we learned to find physical and emotional restrictions in the body. Physical restrictions can occur for many reasons, among which are physical trauma to the body (car accidents, slip and fall accidents, physical abuse, etc.) What do I mean by an emotional restriction? I’ll explain that in a minute.

The concept of our minds and bodies being inseparable has become more and more mainstream, which is a darn good thing: our society suffers from so many ills that are caused by the lack of integration between our minds and bodies! We need to change our view of the human experience from Newtonian (we are an assemblage of parts that are separate from each other) to Einsteinian or quantum (our bodies and thoughts are one experience). Try this on for size: your body is movements of thought. Zen teacher Norman Fischer says in “What is Your Body?”: There isn’t a body per se, just a variety of momentary mental events. Some of them we think of as ‘physical’, even though they’re not.” He continues that the body is “an idea based on unwarranted assumptions about the coherence of our conscious experience.” 1If our thoughts flow and are supportive of our health and the health of others, all systems are go! But when our thoughts create stoppage of flow, this creates stoppage in our body systems, and in how we relate to others and to ourselves. In other words, our body and our life gets constipated!

How do some emotions create this stoppage? When our emotions are too much for us to gracefully handle and process fully, all that energy has to go somewhere- and it is very nicely stored for us in our bodies, especially in the organs and nerves. It’s a coping system, and like most coping systems, it has its drawbacks.

Your organs, arteries, nerves, etc. are designed to slide around in your body, supported by the 3-dimensional connective tissue web that holds your insides together. Every structure in the body has its own particular pattern of intrinsic movement, as well as movement in relation to other structures. Each time you store a difficult emotion instead of dealing with it constructively, the body part in which it’s stored becomes restricted- its function, movement and structure itself can become compromised. Over time, as you accumulate restrictions through physical and emotional energy storage, lines of lesion form in the web, further hampering your inside movements. If for example, you’ve been angry at someone for years without constructively processing that emotion, it can be stored in your liver. The liver performs some 500 tasks in the body, but those tasks will be more difficult for the liver to do when it has to expend energy storing your unresolved stuff! It can’t move freely; it can’t relate well through movement to other structures in the web; and this will decrease its ability to do its jobs. This can result in various ills of the liver, as well as problems with the structures associated with it.

Wow, you say! I don’t want to cause problems in my body! What can I do about this situation? But wait, this gets even more interesting! Now we introduce the concept of the conscious and subconscious mind into this mix. You may have heard that the subconscious mind is hugely bigger than the pitifully tiny conscious mind; out of the 2 million bits of information which come at us every second, the conscious mind can only register 7+/- bits, whereas the subconscious mind recognizes 140+/-bits. Studies suggest that more than 75% of our everyday activities are regulated by the subconscious mind; the subconscious is the repository for most of our data, including memories. Lots of our memory is not accessible to us; one of the so called “prime directives” of the subconscious mind is to seal off traumatic events, which we are not ready to deal with. Our deepest core beliefs, values and childhood imprints are “anchored” and programmed into our subconscious mind. 2And it is this amazing and largely untapped part of us where our emotions reside.

The clincher is that the subconscious mind is habitual; it reacts like a broken record to stimuli that have a particular emotional imprint on us. For example, if you developed a belief as a small child that men can’t be trusted, then that belief is hard-wired into you despite your desire to believe differently and your experience that this belief is untrue. You will subconsciously sabotage any effort to believe otherwise! We can’t change these subconscious programs, unless we tap into the subconscious directly, which can be done with various modalities: tapping, BioAcoustics, EMDR, etc., etc. Also, bodywork that addresses the emotional content of the body’s tissues -Visceral Manipulation among others- can help us make changes in our physical selves that then translate into changes in the subconscious.

Be careful- don’t think of the mind as residing in the head or the brain. Think instead of each part of you- your organs, nerves, bones, minerals, enzymes, proteins, every single part of you from large to miniscule- as taking part in this web of unconscious potential, the mind. So if all parts of you are linked through your unconscious experience, then every part of you has the potential to affect and be affected by every other part. As Candace Pert, Ph.D. says in her book Molecules of Emotion, the chemicals inside our bodies (her main focus is peptides) form an information network that links body and mind in an interactive web: “Originally, we scientists thought that the flow of neuropeptides and receptors was being directed from centers in the brain…then…we found that the flow of chemicals arose from many sites in the different systems simultaneously- the immune, the nervous, the endocrine, and the gastrointestinal- and that these sites formed nodal points on a vast superhighway of internal information exchange taking place on a molecular level.”3 In other words, when you have a thought, there is a chemical response which in effect represents your emotion at that time, and which can create physical problems (or health) in your body.

Okay, so here’s what I’m trying to get at: if our unconscious emotions express themselves through our biochemicals which in turn create health or illness in our bodies, then it follows that our emotions create our health or illness. We don’t have to turn it into a blame game (I gave myself cancer, it’s my fault); instead, this way of looking at our experience can liberate us to understand ourselves on multiple levels- the current “body-mind-spirit” idea- and so create an integrated life and an evolved awareness about ourselves and those around us! World religions encourage us to know ourselves in order to reach our full spiritual potential; I say, integrate the conscious and subconscious bodymind to live your full potential right now!

1Quoted from Editor’s Page by Andrea Miller, deputy editor of Shambala Sun, July 2013

2What is the difference between the conscious and subconscious / unconscious mind? And why is working with the subconscious mind so effective? by Dr. Friedemann Schaub, http://www.cellularwisdom.com/unconscious-mind.shtml.

3Pert, Candace. Molecules of Emotion. New York: Scribner, 1997; p. 310.