Diseases don’t fall from the sky, we create them
In this blog, I promised to address the idea of where most diseases come from and how they take hold in us. Specifically, I want to explore the seemingly contradictory statements that all diseases have a corresponding mind pattern and yet up to 90% can be traced to the GI tract. The idea that diseases can begin in the mind may seem controversial and too esoteric for some. To begin exploring this idea we need to look no further than that most overused word, stress.
It is customary for the word stress to be used with such frequency today that we hardly notice. It’s as if it’s sprinkled into every conversation. We hear “I’m stressed”, “She/he/it stresses me out”, so often that not only are we inured to it being voiced, we may have come to accept stress as a natural part of everyday life. And it is! Stress is not only a natural part of life but a life preserver.
Of course, stress is a life saving built-in biological mechanism. Essential for life to go on. Most are accustomed to the phrase “fight or flight”, the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This inbuilt and reflexive response is needed to survive. For instance, in ancient times a bear or tiger comes while hunting or tending crops. The sympathetic response provided a quick getaway and preserved our ancestor's lives. To escape the felt threat a beautiful symphony of responses automatically kicks in. These physical responses bubbled up to provide the chance to continue living. Flooding the body and mind with stress hormones, redirecting the blood and oxygen supply to afford the ability to defend or flee the situation. Adrenaline is released and our heart rate increases. Blood is moved to essential functions like large muscles and lungs. And where does the blood come from? From what is considered non-essential organs like the liver, kidney, brain, and intestinal tract.
Today, life tells a different story. Tigers and bears rarely jump out at us, nor are we often outside using our bodies in physical labor to provide for our living. Rather, each morning most jump or slump from the bed, drink stimulants to feel alive enough to gulp down some non-living excuse of a meal only to then trudge through traffic to a job many dislike to buy things they don’t need. The largest expense is the house they pay to live in, yet spend less time there than at the usually unpleasant job they toil at to pay for that same house. Which is where they store all the stuff they bought.
Where in the past our ancestors had the occasional need to run from a tiger, today everything is a tiger! Work is a tiger, the mate is a tiger, finances are a tiger, traffic is a tiger, taking the kids to the endless actives is a tiger. Heck, even when we return home from the year long-awaited two-week vacation, we return exhausted and overwhelmed with emails and tasks! For some odd and unknown reason, we have devolved and allowed ourselves to live in a constant state of ongoing stress, of ceaseless fight or flight mode.
Living in low level yet ongoing stress is so prevalent and accepted as normal we are overlooking the fact that each time we “stress out” in ordinary life situations like navigating traffic or planning finances, we are literally responding as if our life is threatened in that very moment. We have yet to evolve where we can distinguish being chased by a tiger and living with our mate, traffic, or just watching the news. Our brains don’t seem capable of differentiating between an actual threat and a basic aspect of living. But the body’s response is the same. Living with stress as an accepted part of life means we are constantly exposed to unnatural levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones. It also means that the GI tract is chronically deprived of its natural and needed blood supply. This is enormously important.
Starving the gastrointestinal tract of its needed blood supply means that whatever food is eaten will not be properly digested, assimilated, and eliminated. So both nutrient deficiency and waste accumulation occur. And this is true even if we eat clean, healthy, whole food. Imagine the outcome if we eat a modern processed diet? The resulting accumulation of putrified matter can cause a host of issues. The most obvious is the litany of GI issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, leaky gut, Crohn’s, etc. If we take a closer look and follow this stress initiated, GI affected chain of events we can trace these origins to their manifesting as a vast majority of diseases.
The most direct way to put it is that living in stress keeps us in the fight or flight mode, starving the digestive system of blood, warmth and filling our minds and bodies with hormonal imbalances. In turn, we cannot properly digest food and this undigested matter becomes putrified in the gut, stagnating as ama, or toxins. From the digestive system, these toxins will tend to move and settle where the body is weakest.
The weaker parts of the body vary from person to person. For some, it’s the neck, so poor digestion born from ongoing stress and improper diet leads to cervical spondylosis. Others it is the knees and shows up as arthritis. Sinusitis and chronic allergies show the same pattern of putrified GI matter cooking in the gut, sending off a warm vapor that then settles in the cavities of the head, the sinuses. The host of autoimmune disorders I have worked with like multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme, etc. all show up with systemic inflammation. This inflammation is heat (pitta) trapped or stagnated whereby the body tries to compensate by bringing fluid (kapha) to cool the excess and imbalanced heat. Working with each person individually also requires each of them to accept some dietary and lifestyle (daily routine) adjustments. Of course, each one has more components to unravel but this gut health-related aspect begs to be addressed properly. This is likely to be more understood and acted upon for as I mentioned in the previous blog, “Constipation Nation”, (7/13/19), modern science has stumbled upon this very idea.
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. (November 2015)
Lots of people, usually new age healers, like to speak and write about the mind-body connection in esoteric terms. In contrast, I like to speak in more concrete terms. Many people who come for Vasi Healing® treatments do so because they are in pain. A prime example is arthritis pain in the knees. Several have come and once I speak with them it turns out they also have GERD, acid reflux or what is better called as indigestion. Long-time suffering in a silent manner they have tolerated it by taking various forms of antacids. Due to being athletes in their younger days or simply carrying excess weight for an extended period, it is their knees that are the weak or most vulnerable part of their body. Over the years the food eaten has not digested properly and some of the accumulated toxins shift from the gut settling in this vulnerable place. This has led to arthritis. So treating just the knee pain isn’t addressing the whole issue.
Indigestion for all of them came from both unconscious eating habits and without exception poor food choices. I found that many ate solely for comfort and others for convenience. Well, it is a mixture of the two, like overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. Large meals, improper mastication, and processed foods are physical culprits. In the mind? The idea of eating out of convenience often shows itself as not “having time” to take for a nutritious and tasty meal. Fast food and processed “food” is the result. The other aspect that goes with convenience is comfort or self-soothing with junk foods or larger than needed amounts. This is a direct outcome from overextending ourselves in needless activities, feeling like we are carrying a huge Atlas-like load, or just holding onto the feeling of always be stressed. No wonder we want comfort foods and junk when we return home.
Attitude to life, daily routine, diet, then medicine and healing
My Teacher, Palpandian spoke these words to me many years ago when I was suffering from illness. What is most notable is that these four tenets of health are given in order of importance. “Attitude to life,” speaks to how we meet our life and all its moving and diverse circumstances. If we consider the case I have made in this blog about the unnoticed role that daily, low-level stress plays in our lives, as well as the immediate and long term physiological ramifications, it is no wonder that he lists our attitude as the most important impact on health and recovery from disease. And this is the mind-body connection.
The origins of diseases beginning in the mind that is filled with stress, whether consciously felt or not, bring this weight of improper living into the body. Our lives offer us many opportunities each day. Modern living provides for levels of ease and comfort as well as the chance to imbibe too much. We have the chance every day to observe and change our attitude to life and daily routine. From stress, to lifestyle, to GI health shows the interrelatedness of our bodies, our minds, and our lives. This is why Palpandian, when asked about where diseases come from simply replied,
Diseases don’t fall from the sky, we create them
*Greetings everyone! I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment. And I hope that I have done a sufficient job in clarifying how the mind affects the body, opening up the avenue for illness and disease to take root. And of course genetic and congenital diseases would not be included in the formula I have put forth. In the next blog, I will share some things I have learned from Palpandian over the years that relate to food, eating, and health prevention. Be well!