We are Physical Matter and have a physical body:
What we eat and drink, we become physically.
We are Emotion and have an emotional body:
What we feel and sense, we are emotionally
We are Mind and have a mental body:
What we think and dwell upon, we are mentally.
Dr. Randolph Stone
Nutrition is not often mentioned in the field of somatic’s. The emphasis of somatic work tends to the energetic, psychological or structural aspects of the body. Somatic’s is defined as “the living body in it’s wholeness,” or mind, body, and spirit in unity. A holistic view of the human organism must include diet and it’s effect for maximizing our human potential.
I associate the nutritional aspect of somatic work with the Third chakra. The third chakra relates to the element of Fire and the sense of Vision. The third chakra is found at the solar plexus, just beneath the sternum. Its color is yellow and with the fire element affects metabolism. The solar plexus chakra is sometimes called our seat of personal power. It’s about self-assertion, courage or cowardice (in astrology, Leo, the lion is a fire sign). It relates to the use or abuse of power. I think a constant theme of this century is the balancing of this ferocious power of fire. Thomas Edison’s harnessing electricity for the light bulb and Laser light used for surgery are beneficial examples. The ovens of Auschwitz, the atomic mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, the clouds of smoke over the desert of Kuwait and the burning of the rain-forests are examples of the extreme abuse of power this century has seen.
Our sense of vision is also out of balance with our other senses. Aries, another fire sign, rules the eyes (He is also the Roman god of war). We are a visually stimulated people. Carolyn Myss states that 80 % of our daily decisions are visually motivated. Terence Mckenna, in his lecture series History Ends in Green, suggests an interesting theory for this preference. Prehistoric people were nomads that followed the wild herds of cattle across the savannas. One of the foods found near herds of cattle are the hallucinogenic mushrooms that grow in their feces. Mckenna asserts that prehistoric peoples often ate the mushrooms; which stimulated the visual centers of the cerebral cortex. This expanded visual acuity assisted in hand-eye coordination; which in turn helped the hunters in killing their game. The mushrooms helped the evolution of the species with better nutrition and by strengthening the visual centers. As the human race has become domesticated we have maintained our dependence on visual skills. We, now, rely less on our sense of smell and hearing and more on our visual senses.
As I begin my discussion on nutrition let me remind you of the quote by Carols Chastened:
“Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone, one question…. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.”
There are many opposing opinions on how, what and why to eat. You need only go to the book or health food store to discern that. When creating an eating program you must rely on your own mind and heart to find the balance that works for you…and you alone. I like the example of Mahatma Gandhi. He experimented with diet until the time he died. He believed that your body, including how you nourish it, should be your laboratory for your experiments in self-realization.
One of the primary ways to maximize the natural vitality, prana or chi of your life is the consumption of “Live Foods.” Eating live foods utilizes the natural energy of enzymes. Ann Wigmore, founder of the Hippocrates Institute says, “ You are alive only because thousands of enzymes make it possible. Every breath you take, thought you think, or sentence you read, is a result of thousands of complex enzyme systems and there functions operating simultaneously…They are the active construction and demolition teams that work 24 hours a day to maintain health and balance in your body.” Under a microscope an enzyme appears to be a protein. In reality protein is not the active agent of enzymes, but merely the material which stores the life energy of enzymes, just as a battery stores energy to light a flashlight.
Technically enzymes are globular proteins that promote specific chemical reactions within the cell. There are three distinct types of enzymes. Metabolic enzymes, which run our bodies; digestive enzymes, which digest our foods; and food enzymes from raw food which begin digestion. No mineral, vitamin, or hormone can do any work without them. Enzymes are found in fresh fruits, vegetables, nut and grains. Sprouted grains are the most potent with enzymatic life force as they contain all the energy a plant will need to thrive. Each raw food has its own hermetic seal, such as a peel, skin or shell, which protects the fragile enzymes. When the seal is broken the enzymes begin to immediately break. All cooked or processed foods are considered de-natured which means that all the enzymes are dead. There may be vitamins or minerals left for absorption, but there is no longer any life force left. The average American diet is deficient in enzymes. A diet of “dead” foods means that our own bodies must operate on an imbalance of declining enzyme levels. Decreased enzyme levels lead to poor digestion, illness and disease. That’s why eating a diet rich in raw foods and high in enzymes is vital. You absorb the life force of the plants you eat to maintain your own vitality.
The third chakra is the energetic correlation to the endocrine system’s production of insulin. Insulin affects metabolism by its conversion of sugars into available energy for the body. The Islet’s of Langerhan, which are found in the pancreas, produce insulin. Much has been made lately about the affects of complex carbohydrates and their effects on diet. The dietetic emphasis over the past decade has been on a low fat, low protein diet with a higher percentage of complex carbohydrates. Recent studies show that complex carbohydrates like pasta, bread, potatoes, peas and bananas create a surplus imbalance of insulin in the blood stream. This insulin imbalance adversely affects the body by im-balancing the rest of the hormonal system. Surplus insulin also distorts energy levels and directs the body to store extra glucose as fat rather than burn it for fuel.
Dr. Barry Sears, author of The Zone, has done excellent research on balancing the insulin/hormonal system through food. He says, “Food is far more important than just something you eat for pleasure or to appease your hunger. Rather, it is a potent drug that you’ll take for the rest of your life. Once food is broken down into its basic components (glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids) and sent into the bloodstream, it has a more powerful impact on your body—and your health—than any drug your doctor could ever prescribe.”
Drinking coffee is another food factor that imbalances the hormonal system. Uptown Health & Spirit recently printed a report from a Duke University Medical Center study of 72 habitual coffee drinkers. Participants produced more adrenaline and noradrenalin on days they drank coffee than days when they abstained. The study states, “People who drink four to five cups of coffee throughout the morning have slightly elevated blood pressure and higher levels of stress hormones all day into the evening, creating a scenario in which the body acts like it is continually under stress.” James Lane, associate research professor of psychiatry at Duke says, “If you combine the effects of real stress with the artificial boost in stress from caffeine, then you have compounded the effects considerably. The increase in blood pressure and stress hormones is elevated till bedtime even if coffee consumption stops at 1 p.m..”
Drinking sufficient water is another component of maintaining maximum health. Water is the single most abundant substance in your body: 70 to 90% of each cell’s weight is water. The average adult loses 2500 ml, or 76 ounces, of water each day through urination, feces, sweat and respiration. Your daily intake of water must equal your daily output. You must drink approximately 45 ounces of water. The balance of your daily requirement comes from eating moist foods and the metabolism of various nutrients within the body. It is important to drink pure, filtered water for the body’s use. Most public drinking water carries contaminants, heavy metals, and unhealthy bacteria. It is important to refrain from drinking much liquid during meals. The extra fluid decreases the effect of the digestive enzymes and hydrocloric acid of the stomach. It is also suggested to never take iced drinks during meals as the stomach works at !05 degrees F. The cold liquid lowers the temperature and slows digestion.
Personally, eating is the one area of somatic work that poses the most difficulty for me. Body weight and image is something I’ve struggled with as long as I can remember. I use the metaphor of meditation as my guide for eating. In meditation I know to focus on the breath. As human beings we loose focus and begin to think, and think, and think. The skill of meditation is to come back to the breath. Come back over and over again. Then the skill becomes a pattern and eventually a way of life. There are times when my eating program is better than others. I just regain my focus and come back to the eating principals that I know deliver the most benefit to me.
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Alan Davidson, founder of
and author of Body Brilliance:
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