The Human Machine
My discussion of the mind has been a prelude to a discussion of spirituality. The skeptical reader will characterize it as mysticism. My concern, though, is with providing a framework for the development of mental discipline. I believe that psychopharmacology is the wrong approach to the problem.
The modes of the mind are evanescent. Even our emotions are inconsistent, as compared to the structure of our physiology as a whole. Injury or disease may alter suddenly our bones, heart, liver, skin, and the myriad other tissues and organs of our form. In times of wellness, though, their condition persists. The continuity can be utilized as a balance and a guide.
Part of this is simply maintenance. Medical check-ups, sensible and age-appropriate exercise, healthful diet and loving relationships are all essential to keeping the human machine running well, and allowing the mind to enjoy life to the greatest extent.
Of course, the connection between mind and body implies that establishing control over our mind gives us resources for managing the performance of our body. In junior high, we ran a cross-country every week, which careered down a steep dirt hill, and after a quarter mile along a dirt track, reversed the climb up a long sidewalk. I always struggled up that hill. Friends told me to pretend that I was being chased by a mountain lion. Not having experienced predation, I didn't get much out of the metaphor. Then, at 44, I was jogging up a steep dirt hill, and reviewing what I had recently learned about the sympathetic nervous structures. Concentrating my attention on the nodes that run along either side of the spine, I was rewarded with a surge of energy, and achieved the top without stopping for the first and only time.
Members of the medical profession rely upon detailed knowledge of our physiology to guide us through illness and injury back to health. Knowledge at that level of detail is useful to the injured party as well, in guiding their conduct to ensure they do not aggravate injury.
For purposes of the development here, we will need a less detailed understanding, and of only a few of the organ systems. On the whole, I have found that love of the self doesn't need much more than the memory of wellness to accomplish its magic. This includes making successful use of the energy that others gift to us with their love.
- The heart manages the flow of energy through our body.
- Our lungs and digestive system take in energy, and pass heat into the world.
- The liver stores energy.
- Our reproductive organs channel the spark of life.
- Our skin, hair and nails shield us from harm.