Most of us believe that important decisions are made via the intellect or the reasoning part of the mind. Current scientific research reveals this to be only partially true. It appears that we think with our minds but experience our emotions from another locale within the body: the stomach area. Our "first" brain is our "thinking brain" and our "second" brain that is lower down in our anatomy is our "feeling brain." This second brain is, in fact, the cross-roads of the mind and body, and it is half mind and half body. It is also a bridge between the logical, practical, deductive mind and the expressive world of our emotional lives.
A validation of this understanding can be found in a new book entitled "The Second Brain" by Michael D. Gershon, M.D., in which the author discusses how our digestive system and all its nerve connections is intimately connected with our mental-emotional well-being. One key point of Dr. Gershon's book is that serotonin, a neurotransmitter necessary for proper brain function and emotional equilibrium, is almost entirely manufactured in the intestinal tract. In fact, every neurotransmitter found in the brain can also be found in the intestinal tract. The doctor states:
"Neuroscientists, whose horizon ends at the holes of the skull, are continually amazed to find that the structure and component cells of the enteric (gut) nervous system are more akin to those of the brain than any peripheral organ."
A brief review of other healing traditions shows us that the belief in a second brain is not new. In Asia, several healing methods believe in the Dan Tien or the Hara, an energy center located near the belly button. In fact, various schools of acupuncture and martial arts focus their work from this region. Author Christopher Markert, in his book "Dan Tien, Your Secret Energy Center," explains that a human being has two brains. Markert says that the "Outer Mind" is the thinking or conscious mind that "deals with the environment and solves external problems," and that the "Inner Mind" is largely unconscious and maintains "metabolism, digestion, growth, healing and reproduction." The Inner Mind lives in the Hara or Dan Tien and has an influence on the rest of the body.
The Dan Tien can serve as a biofeedback mechanism for us. If we harbor negative emotions or poor attitudes, tension will manifest in the abdomen. Markert states:
"When we think or do something that does not agree with our deepest feelings, we immediately get an unpleasant sensation in our center."
That tension could result in numerous digestive upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, colitis or hiatal hernias. The strength of our "digestive fire" can reveal much about our emotions. Any tension in the abdomen may be a signal from within that something is awry in our emotional or spiritual lives. Conversely, poor dietary choices and the resultant toxicity can produce pain and discomfort in the Dan Tien, eventually disturbing our mental equilibirum.
This Inner Mind is not reachable with our intellect or reasoning, and operates instinctively. It innately guides us to what is true and right for each of us if we do not block its messages. According to Thuron Dumont in his book "The Solar Plexus," this nerve center is "the great central storehouse of nervous energy or life force for the total person." The Great Inner Physician in all of us directs healing from the abdominal brain. It instinctively repairs and renews all health conditions as well as it can without any awareness on our part. The Outer Mind can perceive the state of the second brain only by the "gut feelings" we all get continuously &endash; if we pay attention.
In our own western tradition we do not need to look far to observe the same thread. In "Visceral Innervation and Its Relation to Personality," by Albert Kuntz, M.D., the author states: "Emotions are inseparably linked with the organs and with the muscles of the body." Anatomists have long referred to this area of the body as the solar plexus or "abdominal brain" because of the vast number of nerve connections in the abdomen. Current findings only support what the ancients already knew. Dr. Gershon concurs: "We now know that there is a brain in the bowel." The brain in the bowel appears to be the repository of nature's healing energies as well as the home of our emotional lives. With this knowledge, the potential of using the second brain for healing and maintaining health is enormous.
Stephen Levine, author of many books on healing, teaches a meditation technique called "Soft Belly" in which a person becomes quiet and focuses on the abdomen. Awareness of any tensions in the area can reveal to the meditator any messages the Instinctive Mind may be holding. Whether one chooses to employ Soft Belly Meditation or not, it behooves all of us to bring our awareness to this area of the body. Answers may come to us as intuitive or gut feelings regarding diet, personal lifestyle, emotions, etc., and then our Outer Mind will be guided to make the right choices in self-healing. Self-Help suggestions for re-awakening and harmonizing the Second Brain are listed in the suggestion box below.
For for information about the Pythagorean Center, see the Directory of Information, send us an email at: email@example.com, or call the office at (415) 459-4646.
Self-Help for Stress Reduction
1. Soft Belly Meditation*
2. Relaxation Response Exercises*
3. Slant Board Exercises*
4. Castor Oil Packs*
5. Neuro-Vascular Dynamics*
*Call office for information.
For additional information concerning these and other body cleansing methods, please contact our office.
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