the body is the subconscious mind

In the end I find I can’t separate brain from body. Consciousness isn’t just in the head. Nor is it a question of the power of the mind over the body...because they’re flip sides of the same thing. Mind doesn’t dominate body, it becomes body.
— Candace Pert


Dr. Candace Pert was a molecular biologist who, in her research as a graduate student, discovered the opiate receptor. The subject of her research was neuropeptides, what she called the 'molecules of emotion' - chemical messengers that communicate information throughout the brain and the body. Her work was groundbreaking in the discovery that there are receptors for the same neuropeptides throughout the body, which use the same 'language' as the mind in generating thought, emotion, and physical sensation. This field of research became known as Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) and is the scientific basis of mind-body medicine. 

Research in PNI has revealed that there is no distinction between body and mind, and as Pert describes it, the body is actually a physical manifestation of the subconscious mind.  Being a subconscious system, it deals in symbolism through layers of meaning and physical experience is shaped by thought and belief. Past experiences, conditioning, habits are all stored in the body at the cellular level, providing a framework through which we relate to the world.

Gaining an awareness of this framework, the lens through which we experience the world, grants us the capacity to widen the frame. The more closely we can be present with somatic experiences of emotion, the more attuned we can be to the messages of the subconscious mind. By practicing awareness and attending, we can release and let go.


Practice: Returning to the Emotional Body

Settle into a comfortable posture, seated with your head centered above your spine. Breathe naturally.

Bring to mind a recent, unpleasant event from daily life: for example, a tense interaction with a friend or family member, or being cut off by someone while driving.

 Now, bring your awareness to the areas of your body where sensations of emotions are commonly felt: the belly, chest, throat, and face.

Notice any muscle tension in these areas, even if subtle. There is no need to analyze the situation or label the emotions you are feeling. The goal is to know that an emotion is present and be with it.

Once you are aware of the presence of sensation in your body, be aware of the qualities of the sensation. Is it tightness, gripping, tingling, burning, hollowness, numbness? Take some time to relax the muscles surrounding the area where you feel the sensation, such as your face, shoulders, arms, buttocks and legs. 

Each time an emotion is present, be with the sensations as much as possible. The more intimately the sensations are experienced, the sooner the feelings will pass. Emotions are messages from the unconscious informing us that an important event has occurred. Once they are felt and acknowledged, their work is done and they can begin to recede.

Bring your arms across your chest, so that the palm of each hand rests on the opposite shoulder. This shape connects the emotional body with self-compassion. 

And so I let go of addressing life as if it’s a set of problems to be solved, and address what’s actually present. I’ve moved away from a ‘top-down’ cognitive approach to resolving life’s suspenses or uncertainties (thinking my way out of challenges) to a ‘bottom-up’ process (becoming aware of the physical and mental states that constitute the actual experience of worry, boredom, discomfort, and so on).
— Josh Korda, DarmaPunx NYC

© 2018 Diana Quinn ND all rights reserved