mind body connection reciprocal tension membrane cartesian minds spiritual self

Mind Body Connection

January 2, 2023

To me it seems strange that we talk of the connection between mind and body because it presupposes that they are two separate realities in the first place. 

Yet the Mind Body connection remains one of the biggest questions of all time still perplexes philosophers, spiritualists and scientists alike. 

What do you think? Are you a focal hub of consciousness in an interconnected world, when you perceive something are you connected to it via a two way flow of conscious energy that comes into you and flows out of you? Or do you have a super computer brain that generates a simulation of reality (so you can feel all sensations of your senses) and sends out the signals to control the robot of your body?

Before Descartes most people believed that all bodies, human and animal alike, as well as the trees, rocks and rivers that form the natural world, were imbibed with a spiritual presence or animus. Descartes fractured our understanding into dualism; the separation of mind and body. Over the last 200 years science has encroached on popular belief, atheism and nihilism have taken hold of humanity. Painting a bleak picture of a mechanistic world made up of inert matter that could never feel or be aware of anything.

But in such a world how can consciousness exist? The common belief is that brains make consciousness. However that means that beyond everything you see, touch and smell is the inside of your skull. Do you, like me think this is counter intuitive and that somehow when you look out at the world or touch someone you are actually connecting with the outer reality?

Living inside a brain

Could it be that bodies are self-aware? Is every cell is conscious? Or even that the world and Universe are an interconnected web of some kind of mental energy?

Sure the brain is a complex and marvellous thing. All aspects of us can be housed in the brain; the left side is home to logical thought, language, lineal ideas, laws, math etc. the right hemisphere is emotional and intuitive, holistic and non-verbal, seeing the bigger picture and communicating through body language, tone of voice, facial expression and symbols.

But the reality is more complex and interconnected. Just like we can never move just one muscle, any action involves a chain of parts moving together in unison, we never use just one part of the brain. Any movement or expression involves coordination of different parts. Most of us think a little before speaking and opening our mouth to expel air from the lungs, which vibrates our vocal chords, then we use our lips and tongue to shape the air and make sound.

The left and right hemispheres must communicate and coordinate for us to express ourselves with grace. 

Left & Right hemispheres of the brain

Yesterday in a cranial osteopathy workshop I learnt to release the reciprocal tension membrane, the myofascial fibres that encase and define the brain and its regions. The vital body we inhabit is not the same as the cold dead body of anatomy textbooks and dissections. What we feel in the innerspace we inhabit is a dynamic and vibrant living, self-aware body. 

Our language is limited to describe such sensations, and our minds are too preoccupied to pay much attention to them. But in practice we have a remarkable ability to focus our attention and feel particular aspects of our being. 

The Reciprocal Tension Membrane

In the workshop we learnt to synchronize the left and right hemisphere of the brain, you hold the cranium in both hands, steady the breath and listen with curious, noninvasive attention. The sensations are amazing. The brain has its own fluctuating inner rhythm of movement. The left and right sides often dance by themselves. By listening you practice the deepest form of communication and the hemispheres begin to connect. They shunt around a little, shy almost to begin with until they meet in the middle. Here I felt the biodynamic rhythm of the breath of life change into the long tide for a phase of expansion followed by rest. 

When I received the same treatment I felt some nervous activity and mental chatter as the two poles tuned into each other. Then came a profound peace as I entered into expansion. Followed by a feeling of wholeness and presence in space. Hard to describe in words but incredible to experience within.

The Dynamics of the brain and the interconnecting fascia are palpable with the hands

The thing is that you do nothing.

There is nothing to do.

By focusing your awareness things begin to change.

This kind of bodywork awakens the inner intelligence of the body. The transformation begins with a meeting of minds and the communication of two living bodies. The recipient’s body expresses itself and communicates to the hands of the giver, through subtle somatic movements, how to support its transformation.

May you be well.

May you be free from suffering.

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