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Five Fun Facts and Five Important Discoveries About the Human Body

Understanding this human body we inhabit, with all its talents and quirks, is a key for our personal resilience. Here are some fun facts and discoveries that may get you thinking about your body in new ways.

Fact 1: The human nose can distinguish at least 10,000 different odours.

Discovery 1: Epigenetics

We are all pretty much used to the idea that our DNA contains a program that creates the proteins that in turn create us. DNA contains the details of how we work, our susceptibility to different diseases and disorders. Science used to tell us that our DNA was our destiny, that our genetic self was set in stone. Today, we know that this isn’t true. We know, for example, that certain cancers appear to be passed down genetically. But research has also shown that adopted children exhibit the same predisposition toward cancer and other diseases as their adopted family. A new branch of science called epigenetics explores how genes are expressed.

Identical twins with identical DNA, for example, will start life with the same set of epigenetic predispositions that govern how their DNA is expressed. As they go through life and their experiences start to diverge, those epigenetic tags start to differentiate, to the point where the twins may end up looking very different, experiencing different health challenges etc.

There are at least 30,000 different combinations of ways in which any genetic code can be expressed, depending on the epigenetic tags. Thus, the genome is more like a set of building blocks than a complete blueprint. The way the blocks are put together determines the outcome.

Fact 2: Medicine attributes around 1/3 of all healings to the placebo effect.

Discovery 2: Heart Thought

Within the heart, there are many neural cells, and specialists now believe that these cells act to imprint the heart’s substantial electromagnetic charge with the information needed to regulate the cells of the body. Studies have shown that the heart responds faster than the brain to outside stimulation.

Fact 3: Cow’s milk, peanuts, egg whites, wheat and soybeans account for 90% of allergies.

Discovery 3: Muscle Fibres

There are basically three types of muscle fibres- slow, fast twitch and super-fast twitch. The fast and super-fast twitch fibres make up the “white” muscle. While the normal “red” muscle gets the lion’s share of the blood supply, fast-twitch fibres are largely glycolytic in metabolism- they are working off the body’s stored energy. By triggering these fibres, you switch to the body’s anaerobic metabolism, which in turn has been shown to release significant amounts of human growth hormone (HGH), a significant factor for health, longevity and muscle growth.

Fact 4: The brain uses 20% of the body’s oxygen and glucose intake.

Discovery 4: Good Fat

Low-fat diets were all the rage a few decades ago and haven’t yet died out completely, but the truth is that it matters more what kinds of fats you eat than whether you eat them (and your body does need them).

Unfortunately, modern diets tend to be weighted toward Omega 6 fatty acids rather than Omega 3, while our bodies are designed for the opposite. This is of particular concern, because there is evidence that one particular kind of Omega 6 molecule is associated with memory loss and neural degeneration. We get Omega 6 from grain-fed factory-farm animal products, but especially from vegetable oil (corn, sunflower, canola and soybean), which is the main source of this imbalance in our diet. These are present in most processed foods.

Conversely, Omega 3 is quite important for brain health. Dietary sources can be supplemented by krill oil or fish oil capsules, but beware of eating too much fish, as fish in our food chain is often contaminated with mercury and PCBs.

Fact 5: All the human body’s blood vessels, laid end to end, would measure around 96,000 kilometres (60,000 miles). So your blood vessels could circle the earth at the equator nearly two and a half times!

Discovery 5: Psychoneuroimmunology

Psychoneuroimmunology is a field of study that has helped us to understand the link between your emotions, the neurochemical state of your body and your immune system. It turns out that our stress responses and our immune systems are wired into the same system.

If you are always experiencing stress, you are always triggering your fight or flight response, the neurotransmitter chemicals are going out and screaming at your immune system to get going. The trouble is, this becomes your new neurochemical baseline, and your shell-shocked cells decrease their sensitivity to all these neurochemicals. In response, your body sends out more and more of them. It’s like trying to keep a military on war alert all the time- after the fiftieth false alarm, they’re not going to respond as quickly. This chemical state affects us not only on the emotional level, as fear, anger and stress become suffering and depression, but on the genetic level as well. And your immune system is even worse off. A persistent adrenal response causes the immune system to activate again and again, sending messenger chemicals throughout our bodies.

The immune organs- the bone marrow, the thymus gland, the spleen and the lymph nodes- have abundant connections to the nervous system and act in response to impulses received from the brain. Likewise, white blood cells and lymph cells provide feedback to the brain, because they are capable of secreting almost all of the hormones, endorphins and messenger chemicals the body produces, and can also read these substances when sent by other cells.

The hub of this system is the glands that answer the phones, so to speak, in the body’s defence system. These are the adrenals, pituitary and hypothalamus. These are the organs that dispatch epinephrine and cortisol to activate the body’s defences when a threat is sensed, whether physical, emotional or health-related.

This switchboard gets its instructions from the emotional centres of your brain. It doesn’t know the difference between a hungry tiger and an unsatisfied emotional need or constant low-level stress. All that this system knows is when we achieve what’s called consummation, when we’ve done something to remove the danger or relieve the tension. If we can’t do that, the system stays active, and that activity wears down all of our body’s defence systems.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Putting it All Together!

In the coming weeks, we’ll be reintroducing the Resilient Life Code, a course that will bring together all the aspects of personal resilience we’ve talked about.  It’s easy to spend your life reading up on health, mindset, spirituality, energy work and so forth without finding any coherent body of information that will show you how they all fit together.  Finally you’ll have access to that indispensable information.


Dualism- How We Forgot

One thing that all ancient traditions have in common is the unity of all of these elements within their spiritual disciplines, elements which we far too often treat as isolated areas of concern.  In my opinion, this traces back to Western culture’s fundamental dualism- the mind and the body are placed in fundamental opposition.

One symptom of this trend historically has been the complete misunderstanding within Western Christianity of its own “external” practices- fasting, use of images, genuflection, holy water, holy oil, incense, all of the elements that Protestantism discarded as meaningless ritual- which it had, in fact, largely become.  If you grew up in a Protestant country, chances are you’ve absorbed some of Protestantism’s disgust for these “primitive,” “superstitious” practices in one form or another.

People like to make rules to replace authentic traditions- following rules, after all, is easier than struggling to transform the human person- and the “externals” are easy fodder for this sort of thing, as I am painfully aware from my own church background.  But the fundamental superstition here is not that the externals affect us internally, but that they don’t.  The body and the mind are one organism, and you simply can’t make progress in personal resilience without using each to change the state of the other.


The Full Picture

I cannot think of a single authentic tradition that does not control diet, for example, in one form or another.  From Buddhist vegetarianism to the extensive corpus of Taoist dietary advice to the fasting practiced by many faiths globally, the question is not how to alter the diet, but in what way.  This was certainly the approach of early Christianity.  They had no question that fasting could help them to put their body-mind organism in a state more receptive to the presence of God.  The only question was what it would look like.  We have the evidence to show the vastly different dietary practices they experimented with, some of which still coexist today.  The distortion occurs when this becomes an external rule or a mortification of the flesh rather than an activity with an internal purpose.

The struggle to develop our full potential as human beings is aided or hindered by the full picture of our daily life.  What is the first thing you do in the morning?  What do you think about during the day?  How do you feel?  What is your body’s physical condition?  What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch in the course of your day?  What energetic input are you getting from the people around you?  What material are you feeding your mind with, and how does it affect you on a deeper level?  How do you respond to conflict, to stress?  All of these questions become critically important to create the conditions in which you will find it easier to flourish in the long term.


Full Immersion

Ancient traditions understood this, and that’s why so many of them embraced the most radical of solutions.  The seeker leaves his old life behind, all the possessions, friends and family, career prospects, expectations that he has ever known.  In short, he breaks every old habit, every old input except what is in his head.  Perhaps more importantly, he gives himself no alternative but total belief.  He finds a master to teach him, and slowly, he begins to rebuild himself in a new setting.  His diet, exercise, work, reading, acquaintances, surroundings are all deliberate.  His inner life begins to change as he is taught to face his own inner obstacles and transmute them.  His physical body begins to change, and his consciousness with it.

This is hardly possible for everyone, and such an approach can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what to look for.  But it is important for us, living in a disjointed and materialistic society, to understand why things were done in this holistic way.

Imagine, for a moment, a nation somewhere in the world that had dedicated itself to finding the best possible way for every human being to reach their own unique potential in everything they do, everything they are, and to realize the divine imprint within their being.  Imagine that for centuries, this nation had absorbed seekers from all nations with all of their many gifts and perspectives, considered many ways of life, and from these tried to create, not a consensus, but a way of life that reflected and facilitated that common endeavor in every facet of this society, that gave everyone scope and encouragement to find and develop their own unique talent and potential.

What might such a society look like?  We can’t know, but that’s the point- it doesn’t exist.  The next best thing for us is to become more conscious in how we live our own lives, to reclaim control of our inner state one piece at a time by understanding what affects that state.  Our purpose going forward with the Resilient Life Code is to bring together all the pieces of the puzzle in a synergistic way, to show how they intersect and how to put it all together.

More on this is coming your way very soon…

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Resilience and the Power of TOUCH

Skin is something of a miracle. It protects us from a range of diseases, while also allowing absorption of vitamins such as Vitamin D. It is also incredibly sensitive and responsive—we have around 10 million sensory neurons in our skin, firing and relaying constant streams of information to our brains. The touch sensations of a hand holding yours, arms around your shoulders in an embrace: these are some of the universal happy memories of being a kid. But they have unexpected benefits that long outlast childhood.

In fact, just making an effort to hug one person a day, whether it’s a friend or a family member, has been shown to have significant effects on your well-being.  It lowers blood pressure, increases nerve activity and improves overall mood. Beyond the physical, hugging also stimulates people to be more open about their emotions and develop a greater sense of closeness and compassion to those around them.

Who knew that simple skin-to-skin contact could be so important to personal resilience?

Instinct makes parents physically affectionate with their children, and science suggests this impulse is extremely beneficial to young brains. Physical love simply helps children grow and develop. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist at Bath University, explains that, “Touch affects the cerebellar brain system, an area of the brain where basic positive emotions such as trust and affection come from.” Research consistently proves that your emotional resilience is deeply impacted by the simple act of touching another.

But this physical affection shouldn’t end with the onset of puberty. As a society, we have a tendency to dismiss nonsexual physical closeness, when in reality we thrive on the feelings of safety and acceptance that it brings.

Studies have shown that prolonged contact, such as a massage, has positive effects on people of all ages. It lessens depression and anxiety, and releases endorphins that work as the body’s natural painkillers. We know that stress causes upwards of ninety percent of all illnesses, and this being the case, promoting feelings of peace and well-being should be a priority.

This can be quite easily brought about through the simple act of touch. In a study performed by the University of Carolina, researchers found that couples’ cortisol levels (the stress hormone) were significantly lowered after having hugged their partners for at least twenty seconds.

Why do you think massages have such a reputation for bringing about relaxation? It’s the positive effect of touch. After receiving massage sessions, adolescents with ADHD expressed feelings of happiness, and their teachers noted a decrease in the adolescent’s fidgeting and off-task activities. Massage also helped smokers manage cravings, and arthritic sufferers felt less stiffness and pain in their whole bodies after a simple back massage.

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—it can even help treat chronic diseases and neurological disorders. Doctors are being forced to recognize the unique role that touch has in the healing process:

“Touch [is] inherently humanizing, and for a doctor-patient relationship to have meaning

beyond that of a business interaction, there needs to be trust—on both ends. As has been

proven in newborn nurseries, and intuited by most doctors, nurses and patients, one of the

most basic ways to establish trust is to touch.”

— Danielle Ofri, New York Times

Touch is vital for human function and emotion—yet its importance is widely overlooked. Its ability to comfort a person in distress is recognized throughout all cultures the world over. In addition, treatments such as reflexology work with the vital energy of the body to encourage healing through touch. Patients are more likely to let go of the tension and anxiety that has made them ill, and sink into deep relaxation.

Touch can bond us together in ways that transcend words or in situations where we cannot express ourselves any other way.

This week, to strengthen resilience and benefit others:

GIVE A HUG to your friends and loved ones. Especially your partners—studies have shown that physical closeness is one of the most important factors in a healthy marriage.

GET A MASSAGE: while this may feel like an indulgence, the effect that this will have on your physical and emotional health will be extremely restorative. If you don’t have the time or inclination to book a professional massage, try taking turns with a family member!

REMEMBER to be physically affectionate — especially with older relatives and friends who live on their own or have lost husbands and wives.

Do this and you’ll be astonished at how much better you feel!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger

Resilience Tip: Change Your Emotional State Instantly

How do you FEEL right now?  I mean “feel” in the emotional sense. How do you feel? Think about it and come up with a one word answer for yourself.

Have you got that answer? Good. Now, did you know you can INSTANTLY change your emotional state? Would you like to do that now?

You have at your disposal 24/7 an instrument that enables you to alter your emotional state at will. It’s called…

…your body.

Don’t believe me? If you’re feeling tired, do just two minutes of stretches, push-ups and squats and I guarantee you’ll feel totally energized!  Feeling down or discouraged? Straighten up, look up and reach up with your hands palm up as high as you can reach. Do that for two minutes and I guarantee you’ll feel better. …unless you’re grimly determined to wallow in self-pity, of course 😉

Make a habit of putting a smile on your face as soon as you get up in the morning. Do this simple exercise and you’ll notice a huge difference.

So remember, if you want to influence your mind and emotions, start with your physical body! Using your body to regulate your emotional states will gradually build new neural pathways to a healthier emotional life.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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