Madre Grande Monastery
A Sacred site for healing, teaching, ceremony, and celebration
All the various healing techniques depend on knowledge of the bodyâ€™s parts and systems and how they all interact. This is as true for conventional medicine as it is for alternative healing practices. There are, however, several ways to look at our complex and composite bodies. It is not merely a mixture of solids, liquids, gases, and energy, although it is this, too, for it has a mechanical, chemical, and energetic integrity that organizes its various systems into a smoothly operating whole. At least this is so when we are well or whole. To be healed from any non-wholeness is the intent of all the various healing methods, conventional and alternative. In order to more fully understand these methods a few words about our body's systems, as seen from the different healing strategies, is helpful. For the purpose of better understanding the healing potential of both conventional and alternative methods, we will look at our body from three different aspects. These aspects are:
1. Structural Aspect
Purely structurally speaking, our bodies can be looked at as consisting of seven different systems. Each one of them is necessary for the operation of the whole and any malfunction in one system will have repercussions in the other systems. That is, they are all co-dependent on one another in a most intricate way. These are the systems: integumentary, muscular, skeletal, nervous, endocrine, circulatory or pulmonary, and gastrointestinal. Each of these systems is composed of varying parts itself and further depends on the presence of proper and sufficient nutrients and the production of certain chemicals in order to maintain its proper functioning. This is the basic tenet of allopathic medicine.
This system, also called the cutaneous or dermal system, is the skin or covering of our body. It is the structure that holds everything together, but it does far more than this. It consists of two primary layers, the epidermis and the corium. Each of these layers has several sub layers and various classes of specialized cells, such as sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles. Since this is not intended as a physiology website, we leave the greater detail for your further searching. The skin is the largest organ of the body. Its function can be described as sevenfold:
Protection from injury and invasion. It is your true first line of defense.
Regulation of body temperature.
Elimination of toxins from cellular waste products and absorption of other chemicals.
Maintenance of body hydration.
Storage system for water and nutrients.
Sense organ for the sense of touch.
Source of anti-rachitic (rickets) vitamin, or vitamin D, and other similar functions like producing hormones that change T-cells into different types of T-lymphocytes. Muscular System
Muscular tissue is a collection of contractile cells or fibers. They have the ability to contract so as to effect to the movement or articulation of the skeletal system, breathing of the pulmonary system, and heartbeat of the cardiovascular system. Characteristically they have very little connective tissue between the cells. There are three types of muscle tissue that perform its three basic functions: voluntary or striated for skeletal articulation; involuntary or smooth, for diaphragmatic breathing; myocardium or cardiac for heart pumping. Striated muscles also move the tongue, the pharynx and the upper esophagus. The smooth muscles operate the internal organs and functions of the digestive tract, the respiratory passages, the urinary and genital ducts, the urinary bladder and the gallbladder, and the walls of blood vessels. All muscle cells are characterized by having elasticity, conductivity, and irritability.
The word "skeletal" derives from the Greek word for "dried up". This system has 206 bones, not counting our teeth. Bone tissue is the body's hardest connective tissue and forms the framework of the body. It consists of bone cells embedded in a matrix of calcified intercellular substance. The bones serve also as a storage place for mineral salts. Blood cells are originated in the marrow, or soft inner portion of the bone. Although they are "dried up" they are 50% water. The other 50% is mostly cartilage hardened by impregnation with mineral salts, especially calcium carbonates and phosphates. As we age the calcium proportion of these mineral salts increases, leading to more brittle bones.
Nervous System - Central and Peripheral
The nervous system can alter the course of immunity through the autonomic and endocrine systems. It is divided into two main functions: voluntary and involuntary. The involuntary, or autonomic, system is further divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic functions. The sympathetic function sends messages to release certain messengers to start processes and the parasympathetic function sends messages to stop these processes. For instance, under stress, sympathetic nerves will transmit norepinephrine which will raise blood pressure, raise body hairs, cause gooseflesh, dilate the pupils, cause thick saliva secretion, depress gastro-intestinal activity and increase the heart rate. This is known as the alarm response. Conversely, parasympathetic nerves will reverse these effects. The parasympathetic system is a major part of mind-body communication and of the placebo response.
The central nervous system is the brain and spinal column. The brain is constructed with a right and a left hemisphere connected by a wide strip of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. Each hemisphere is further divided into several sections; the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the medulla. The cerebrum interprets sensory impulses and operates the voluntary muscular system. It is also the seat of consciousness, memory, reasoning, judgment, intelligence and the emotions. Each cerebrum has four lobes; the frontal, the parietal, the temporal, and the occipital. These lobes are separated one from the other by fissures and each is covered by numerous convolutions or gyri (plural of gyrus). The cerebellum is synergistically involved with coordinating voluntary muscular movements. It is divided into three lobes, but the convolutions and fissures are not very deep. The left brain manages verbal, logical, rational and linear processes of thinking, and the sympathetic system, while the right brain handles creative, intuitive, abstract and holistic processes, and the parasympathetic system. When you close your eyes you immediately enhance alpha and theta wave generation in the brain and facilitate a shift from the left hemisphere to the right hemisphere, with its closer association to the mind-body, limbic-hypothalamic information transduction system.
The peripheral system of nerves are bundles, or groups of bundles, of nerve fibers outside the central nervous system which connects the brain and spinal cord with various parts of the body. The nerves conduct afferent impulses centrally from receptor organs and efferent impulses peripherally to effector organs. The fibers of the peripheral nerves are the processes of the neurons whose cell bodies are located within the brain, spinal cord, or in ganglia. Myelin, a fat-like substance, forms the principal component of the sheath about the voluntary nerve fibers. It insulates them so the charge does not leak and dissipate before reaching its intended destination. This sheath is composed of cholesterol, certain cerebrosides, phospholipins, and essential fatty acids. Nerves are the essential electrical connectors that stimulate the muscles in order to articulate the bones. They are one of the routes by which neuro-transmitters reach and pass information (chemical messengers) to the distributed muscular, endocrine, and organ systems. Like the circulatory system they reach virtually every cell of the body.
This system consists of ductless glands that produce an internal secretion of hormones and other chemical messengers directly into the blood vessels and lymphatic fluid. Some glands, like the pancreas and testes, produce an external secretion as well. The endocrine glands are the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pineal, adrenals, the Islands of Langorhans of the pancreas, and the gonads (both ovaries and testes). They affect the rate of metabolism, metabolism of carbohydrates and calcium, growth and development, secretion by other glands, development and function of the reproductive system, sexual characteristics and libido, ability to manage stress, and disease resistance.
Circulatory - Pulmonary System
Every single cell in the body must receive nutrients, oxygen, and remove metabolic wastes, in order to stay alive, healthy, and functional. The circulatory system provides these functions via the arterial, venal, and lymphatic systems. Lymph is formed from the tissue fluid which fills the tissue spaces of the body. It is collected into lymph capillaries that carry it to larger vessels which in turn converge to form two main trunks: the right lymphatic duct and the thoracic duct. The right lymphatic duct drains the right side of the head, neck and trunk, and the right upper extremity. The thoracic duct drains all the rest of the body. The thoracic duct receives lymph from the abdominal organs, courses upwards through the diaphragm and the thorax, and empties into the left sub-clavian artery near its junction with the left interior jugular vein. The right lymphatic duct empties into the right sub-clavian vein. Along the course of the lymph vessels there are lymph nodes, which filter bacteria and particulates to prevent their entry into the bloodstream. Lymph is pumped through this system by the muscular movement of breathing and body motion, and by pressure differentials between the upper and lower body.
The blood circulates from heart to lung, where it is oxygenated and releases excess carbon dioxide to maintain blood pH. Thence into the heart again to be pumped out to the brain and body cells through the arterial system. Breaking down as it goes, the arterial vessels finally reduce in size to capillaries that are so fine that blood cells must line up individually in order to pass through them. A corresponding system of veins returns the blood to the heart and lungs, whence the cycle repeats. The veins have a larger capacity than the arteries and are greater in number. They have thinner walls and more frequent connections and valves that prevent the blood from flowing in reverse. Both the arteries and veins have three layers of cells to maintain strength and elasticity.
In order to stay alive, we must, of course, consume food. First the food must be ground up and mixed with enzymes that start the digestive process. Then it is passed to the acidic environment of the stomach, where it is mixed with chemicals from the stomach and other organs in this system. Here it is further broken down by digestion into smaller molecules that either pass into the circulatory system or pass on into the intestinal tract. In the intestines it is processed further in a different chemical milieu so that more nutrients can be absorbed through the intestinal walls. The digested matter is moved through the intestines by a rhythmic muscular movement called peristalsis and then eliminated from the body. Proper food, preparation, processing, absorption, and elimination are essential to good health.
2. Informational Aspect
As we have seen the human body is a complex network of several distinct systems that somehow manage to work together in a coordinated fashion. Not only do related parts of each system function smoothly as a unit and all interrelated systems function together as a whole, but outside stimuli from the sense organs can modify functions internally and appropriately to maintain the overall status quo. Recently it has been proven that we are able also to modify our own functioning without having any external input; that is, we can modify our system by our own volition. While information theory is usually formulated in mathematical language, the entire human body can be viewed as an interlocking network of informational systems, such as genetic, immunological, hormonal, et cetera. These systems each have their own codes, so the transmission of information between systems requires some sort of transducer that allows the code of one system to be translated into the code of another system. Transduction refers to the conversion or transformation of energy or information from one form to another. The basic concept of information, communication, and cybernetic theory, leads us to view all biological life as a system of information transduction. That is, life is an information system and biology is a process of information transduction. Mind and body are two facets or two ways of conceptualizing this single information system. Consciousness, and mind in general, thrives on information. Mind is nature's supreme design for receiving, generating, and transducing information.
Neuropeptides are molecules composed of two or more amino acids. They are formed at the receptors of neurons that transmit neuronal signals. They are also released directly into the blood and lymph to influence other organs. They are, therefore, messenger molecules that are formed when information is transduced from neural impulses into hormones of the body. The neuropeptide system overlaps the autonomic, endocrine and immune systems by utilizing these neuropeptides as messenger molecules to communicate within its system and with the others. Because it sends signals in so many different ways, the neuropeptide system has an incredibly pervasive and flexible pattern of communication. It is the most multifaceted channel for information transduction and expression of state dependent memory and learning. The central concept of modern neuroendocrinology is neurosecretion. The existence of neuroendocrinal information transducers is the basic reason for conceptualizing the field of psychobiology as a branch of information theory. It is the key that unites biology and psychology within a single framework of information theory in a manner that makes mind-body communication and healing an empirical science.
The limbic-hypothalamic system is the major mind-body information transducer. This system includes the amygdala, hippocampus, cingulate gyrus, fornix, septum and certain nuclei of the hypothalamus and the Pagez circuit. All sensory input is received by the hypothalamus except olfactory which is input to the amygdala. The hypothalamus is very small and not a very discreet organ. It is only the size of a pea and weighs only one gram. It is laterally continuous with the sub-thalamic region and contains secretions which control visceral activities, like maintenance of water balance, sugar and fat metabolism, regulation of body temperature and secretion of the endocrine glands. It integrates sympathetic and parasympathetic systems and influences the immune system by altering both cellular and humoral immune activity. It has fibers running out to virtually everywhere in the brain and to each of the four cerebral lobes and so stimulates the release of their neurotransmitters: dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin.
The hypothalamus receives signals of sensory input from the thalamus, and from the amygdala in the case of olfactory stimuli, and acts on these signals without cerebral cortex influence. There are two types of nerve cells in the hypothalamus that are specialized into mind-body transducers. They receive electrical impulses from the cerebral cortex and from the thalamus on one hand just like any conventional nerve cell of the brain; on the other hand, however, they discharge a neuropeptide or hormone to regulate various tissues of the body. The hypothalamus is, therefore, able to transduce neuronal code into endocrinal, immunological, and neuropeptide system codes. For example, a neuropeptide or hormone is released into the bloodstream to the anterior pituitary which is thus stimulated to release another hormone dependent on the particular neuropeptide signal received. As examples, prolactin from the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus turns on milk production in women's breasts; vasopressin from the paraventricular nucleus, and oxytocin from the supraoptic nucleus are released to the kidneys. In time of stress the hypothalamus elicites the alarm response by the release of neuropeptides to the pituitary gland which in turn releases ACTH that stimulates the adrenal cortex to release the corticosteroid cortisol; and it releases neuropeptides via the sympathetic system to stimulate the adrenal medulla to release the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine. This neurosecretion is the central concept of neuroendocrinology, and it shows psychobiology to be a branch of information theory.
3. Energetic Aspect
There is, of course, no denial that our bodies operate on energy. We take in solar energy, chemical energy and thought energy. All the energy that is transmitted about the body is essentially through electron transfer. This is the case whether the energy is transmitted through the central nervous system or via neuropteptides and hormones; it is all by chemical reactions that are essentially only electron transfers. The electron is a unit of charge, it is not a particle at all - only energy is being transferred through this information system. As a consequence of this energy movement, there is throughout our body and radiating out from it an energy field. When all our systems are operating optimally, our energy field will be in a state of wellness. If anything disturbs this dynamic equilibrium, energy must flow into or away from the disturbed location in order to restore the balanced condition. Our body can be looked upon as an energy body, since matter is really nothing more than vibration and charge. Western medicine treats this energy body with chemicals as it attempts to bring it back to a state of wellness. Alternative methods also use chemical means, but also use the mind, life style and energy itself.
Every minutist "particle" in our body has an apparent mass, describing its physical signature. It also has a deBroglie wave length, describing its energy signature, its place on the electro-magnetic spectrum. Therefore, our bodies are composite systems consisting of "masses" of elctro-magnetic energy. Many of the conditions of existence that we are accustomed to here in this macroscopic world just do not apply when the "masses" are so tiny that "quantum effects" apply. There is an apparent connection between distant events as is abserved in electron coupling where an action on one electron somehow affects the other distantly separated electron. This "quantum interconnectedness" and other quantum effects seem strange and impossible to us since we can not regularly observe them. There is no reason to suspect, however, that quantum effects can not appear macroscopically just as well. The Bell theorem (stated by J.S. Bell) states "no theory of reality compatible with quantum theory can require spatially separated events to be independent." Rather it must, as stated by Einstein, et al, permit physically separated events to interact with each other in a manner that is contrary to ordinary experience.
What might be the implications for our world, then, of this rule of "non-locality"? Can we interact with distant events? Even mere observation is an interaction on the quantum level and far-vision, that is, observation of distant events both in real time and future time, is indisputable. In Mind-Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Ability, by Targ and Puthoff, concluded that far-vision is a wide spread or even universal ability that we all have. Experiments showed the visiual impression of far vision is more accurately described by colors, shapes and arrangements, rather than when described in words or measurements. This implies that these so called paranormal abilities reside with our right brain function. In our modern world our right brain is "cooked" by our left brain demands, so we do not "normally" recognise this ability. In our macroscopic space-time continuum, our right brain functions in space; our left, in time.All evidence of far-hearing, far-vision, distance healing by prayer and other alternative methods, are explanable as macroscopic quantum effects. This affords a scientific explanation for such anectodal evidence of miracle and spontaneous healings, and healings by other alternative, mind and energy modalities.