WELLNESS | The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection and Our Health
The following is an excerpt from How We Heal, Revised and Expanded Edition: Understanding the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection by Douglas W. Morrison.
Health is a precious gift and far simpler to maintain than it is to regain once lost or squandered. A multitude of factors determine or influence our health, including physical ones such as nutrition, genetic inheritance and lifestyle. However, important as these physical factors may be, our emotional and mental states also play an immense role in determining our state of health. Through an understanding of how these mental, emotional, and physical factors are related, we may see how disease is developed in the body in the first place. Once we understand how disease is created, it becomes clearer how health can be regained and maintained. Just as importantly, we can understand how disease can be prevented.
The Physical, Emotional, and Mental Bodies
Let us begin by considering a series of three mutually connected levels which we shall refer to as the mental, emotional and physical bodies. These three bodies may be thought of as interdependent and continually interactive with each other, yet they are distinguishable from each other. One might also say that these bodies interpenetrate each other. While each body influences the others to a varying degree, there is a hierarchy wherein the physical body is encompassed by the emotional body which in turn is encompassed by the mental body. Thus, the mental body may be thought of as the highest of these three levels followed by the emotional and then the physical, respectively. Conditions which exist on a higher level will eventually be made manifest on a lower level, and any condition which exists on a lower level will have originated on the higher levels. The fundamental dictum which must be borne in mind when we deal with these three levels is quite simple: Thought is senior to substance. Thus, all outer or physical conditions originate on the mental level. The manner in which this occurs will be discussed below. For now let us just realize that the condition of the physical body is dependent upon that of the emotional and mental bodies. True permanent healing of the physical body cannot occur without addressing the underlying causes on the emotional and mental levels.
The Physical Body
It is useful to consider the physical, emotional and mental bodies and how they interact with one another. The physical body is the tangible vehicle of flesh and blood with which we are all familiar and with which most of us identify almost completely. The physical body exists primarily in the realm of matter. Next is the emotional body, which in most cases is quite firmly fused with the physical body as a result of tremendous resistance and considerable levels of suppressed emotion. The emotional body is a more subtle or finer vehicle, of which most people are ordinarily less aware than they are of the more tangible physical vehicle. Yet each of us is somewhat aware of its existence, although we may not think of it much. This more subtle and less tangible level is nonetheless quite real, of a finer, less dense form of energy than matter, which is a more crystallized form of energy.
The Emotional Body
The function of the emotional body can be well understood by a careful study of the scale of emotions.
The Scale of Emotions
A Scale of Emotions runs from top to bottom as follows: Enthusiasm, Pain, Anger, Fear, Grief, Apathy, and Unconsciousness. Let us briefly define and examine each of these seven levels, noting that we may find ourselves on different points on the scale depending upon the area of life.
1. Enthusiasm: At the top of the Scale of Emotions, we are free from all judgment and resistance and capable of seeing things as they are and making choices. Neither true choice nor free agency is really possible in the absence of enthusiasm, for wherever there is less than enthusiasm, there is resistance. This resistance automatically removes the possibility of full awareness in the given situation, for whenever there is any degree of resistance we are no longer capable of undistorted perception. We cannot be free, or really make free choices, if we are not fully aware of what our choices actually are. Many times we think we have free agency, and yet really we are simply playing out old tapes of preconditioned reactive behavior. Enthusiasm is the level at which we can receive the experiences of life and accept them as they are without resistance. The emotion of enthusiasm is said to be associated with the pineal gland, which helps regulate the entire endocrine system.
2. Pain: At the pain level, we are no longer enthusiastic with respect to some area of life; we are in a state of resistance. Although our level of awareness is still fairly high, we are unwilling to lovingly receive the full experience. However, our experiences are but a reflection of our own inner creative essence as expressed in patterns of thought, feeling and spoken word. Our resistance to these experiences is the source of our pain, whether the pain is physical, emotional or otherwise. We wish things to be other than they really are, and we react with contraction, and this causes pain. The pituitary gland resonates to the emotion of pain.
3. Anger: At this level, we have become completely identified with a single point of view. We therefore consider all other points of view wrong, if we can even see them at all. Thus, there is no reason in anger but simply justification that allows us to remain angry and to defend our point of view in the face of all perceived opposition. While our awareness is considerably diminished at this point, there is greater awareness here than at the lower levels of the scale. Anger corresponds to the thyroid and the parathyroid glands.
4. Fear: At this level, we are unwilling to tolerate what we find uncomfortable. We remove ourselves from what appears to be the source of our problem, often by running away from it. We do this because we are afraid, and we also fail to realize that this outer manifestation is not truly the source of our discomfort. Rather, the situation is simply the reflection of our own suppressed patterns of thought, word, and emotion. Though we are capable of being somewhat causative in our environment at the level of anger or above, from the level of fear on down, through our own resistance to life’s experiences we relegate ourselves to being the effect of our own resisted creations. Fear is the midpoint of the Scale of Emotions. Above the fear level, we have some ability to see ourselves as capable of changing our environment, or being causative. Below the fear level, we mainly see ourselves as being the effect of our environment. At the fear level, while we do not see ourselves as capable of changing anything, we do see ourselves as capable of running away. However, we can run but we can never truly hide, for the source of our apparent problem is not without but within. And as such, the outer manifestation of this resisted inner essence will be drawn to us in some form with great exactness even though we try to escape. Hence, in the words of Job, “That which I have feared has come upon me.” The emotion of fear is associated with the thymus gland as well as the heart.
5. Grief: At this level, we are the classic victim, a state we maintain through justification and denial. We feel perfectly justified in believing that our problems are caused by something outside of ourselves beyond our control. We are not at all pleased with whatever it is that we are resisting; in fact at the grief level we are often in considerable distress about it. We may sob and moan, we may feel quite sorry for ourselves. We may make many of those around us miserable as well, for indeed misery loves company. Yet we will fail to see that we are at all responsible for our situation. And since we place the problem outside of ourselves, we simultaneously place its solution outside ourselves. In so doing, we remain a victim and avoid assuming responsibility for our own creative efforts. The only way we can get clear of the problem is perhaps to get somebody else to solve it for us. At grief, the pancreas and adrenals are involved.
6. Apathy: At this level, there is nearly total denial of our own ability to do anything. This is where the “I can’t” word patterns typically flourish. We are almost entirely incapacitated through denial of our own ability to do anything. We feel that we cannot do anything about our situation, so why try. Thus, the tendency is to simply shut out that which is resisted. This eventually brings us down into the level of unconsciousness. The spleen is associated with apathy.
7. Unconsciousness: Here we are totally identified with matter and almost totally lack awareness. We simply react continually to a given situation on the basis of a broad array of reactive patterns. However, there is a certain level of balance and/or stability achieved thereby. The appropriate expression might be that ignorance is bliss. For here we are largely unaware of problems; thus, they appear to be resolved. This, then, is the counterfeit for enthusiasm. At the level of enthusiasm, we have resolved all resistance through total awareness and unconditional love, thus transmuting the resistance of the emotional body in the area of consideration. Whereas at the level of unconsciousness, the resistance is not truly resolved but simply submerged, apparently no longer an issue for us. At the level of unconsciousness, the gonads are involved.
Seven Levels within the Seven Levels
Within each of these seven levels of emotion we find all seven levels as well. For example, at the level of unconsciousness we have levels of enthusiasm, pain, anger, fear, grief, apathy, and unconsciousness, and at the level of apathy we also have each of these seven levels. This continues for each of the other levels up to and including enthusiasm. This seven within seven model underscores the great key to transmuting all resistance on the emotional body: enthusiasm. For at each of the seven levels, the top of that level is always the level of enthusiasm. Hence, we overcome each of the various emotions by experiencing it with total enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is basically synonymous with unconditional love. (Enthusiasm comes from Greek, with the literal meaning “God in you.” As “God is love,” it might be fair to define enthusiasm as also “love in you.”) Enthusiasm transmutes the various emotions, each in turn.
There is a vast difference between fully experiencing an emotion by encompassing it with enthusiasm versus covering up the painful emotion and blotting it out from our awareness by concentrating on enthusiasm to the exclusion of the emotion.1 In other words, the goal is to feel what we actually feel with enthusiasm. The goal is not to feel enthusiasm instead of feeling what we actually feel. If we feel each emotion with love or enthusiasm, this will lead to freedom from the bondage of continued resistance, whereas focusing upon love or enthusiasm instead of what we really feel will perpetuate the already considerable levels of resistance. For it is difficult to transmute that which we refuse to acknowledge in the first place. It is essential to our progress that this concept be understood fully. That which we exclude through continued resistance, or that which we refuse to encompass with unconditional love, will halt our progression.
The Mental Body
That which we embrace with enthusiasm is transcended, bringing us eventually up through the entire scale of emotions and on to the mental body.
The Outer Is the Reflection of the Inner
The mental body cannot be comprehended fully without the crucial understanding that the physical body and indeed the entire physical universe is but the outer manifestation of consciousness, a reflection of the inner essence. In a very real sense each of us is a cocreator of the universe, for the various conditions which arise on the outer level are simply reflections of what already exists on the inner level in patterns of thought, word, and emotion. Another way of expressing this is “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Thought patterns are the sensory aspect of each experience: the when, where, who, what and how. Emotional patterns are the emotion or emotions associated with a given experience. Word patterns are the verbal or mental utterances associated with the patterns of thought and emotion. When thought patterns, word patterns, and emotional patterns are held in a continual state of creation, whether consciously by choice or unconsciously through our subtle or not so subtle resistances, they will eventually come into manifestation in the outer world. The principle is that what we resist will persist, and for this reason no true permanent physical healing can occur without a change of consciousness. If the underlying patterns are not encountered and transmuted, then any other changes we effect will be at best temporary. The outer symptoms will eventually reappear if the inner causes remain intact.
Resistance and Duality
Healing at the mental body level necessitates overcoming the resistances in the physical and emotional bodies, in the area of consideration at least, so that we are now capable of considering and encompassing the various dualities involved. A duality is a pair of apparent opposites: night/day, hot/cold, good/bad, and so on. In the physical world there is opposition in all things, hence duality is a constant consideration. At the mental level we are capable of simultaneously viewing both sides of a given duality. When this is done from a position of unconditional love and forgiveness we can then encompass that particular duality.
Resistance originates at the mental body level when we make a judgment, identifying with one side of the duality to the exclusion of the other, thus setting in motion the long chain of resistance. Once we resist an area of life, from that point on we will draw to ourselves via the Law of Attraction similar experiences which we will tend to resist on the basis of our previous resistances. That resistance already exists in some area renders us unable to view this area impartially. Another way of saying this is that we believe things to be a certain way, so we see things that way. This is what judgment is all about. Any judgment takes us out of the now to where we cannot see what truly is but simply what we expect to see. Another way to phrase this fundamental truth would be to say that believing is seeing. Making judgments that form our beliefs and restrict our seeing has many consequences for our health and well being.
1. Being able to focus our attention upon something either to the exclusion or to the encompassment (of other things) each has its proper time, place, and purpose. And both capacities are eventually necessary to our progression. Yet in this instance, the resisted emotion will not be transmuted if we lose awareness of it by focusing upon enthusiasm to the exclusion of the resisted emotion itself.