Some writings here on those tiny little worlds within worlds- our cells.
It's a vast area for something so small, but I'd love to explore a little with
you, as I believe that it relates to our physical, psychological and spiritual wellness.
Some questions to begin with:
- what's the connection between our cells and health?
- is it possible to connnect directly with our cells to enhance our health?
- what might our inner nature, our cells, have to teach us?
So with these questions in mind to to start us off, let's dive in.
The life of the cells
We began this life as a tiny little cell in our mothers womb; created from our mother and father's cells but now our own unique being, supported by the environment around us. Just as you do now, this cell breathes. It also takes in nutrients and expels toxins, rests, digests, has a brain (the nucleus), and creates energy.
As it breathes in and out, the cell embodies our very first movement pattern- the life flow of expansion and condensing. Its whole body participates in this tiny little pulse, allowing the flow of life to pass through the cell uninhibited. This single cell then divides and multiplies into billions of cells to eventually become the fully grown human that is you.
As Donna Farhi says in her book, "Yoga Body Mind and Spirit":
" From the moment of conception, our bodies begin to breathe. Each cell in the body expands, condenses, and rests in an internal rhythmic pattern, a pattern that will become amplified into full-body breathing at the moment of birth. This first movement is the basic template for our existence. Whether we are sitting still, or running up a hill, or sound asleep, the breath acts as a continuous resonant presence, infusing and influencing all other processes, from the chemical reactions of our cells to our moment to moment psychological and emotional state".
Cells and Health
"Any disturbance in cellular functioning is at the root of disorder and sickness in the body...the psychophysical health of each cell is essential to the health and well-being of the whole ( person)".
Linda Hartley, Wisdom of the Body Moving,
Ideally, the full flow of breath continues both on a cellular and a full body level, enabling the optimum functioning of our body-minds, bringing health and vitality, both physical and psycholigcal.
Yet often this cellular level of health can be overlooked when treating common conditions such as fatigue, stress, and muscular tension. Western science still tends to look at a human being mechanically- as seperate parts that together make up a whole- but some doctors are opening up to a more holistic, organic view of life.
I love Dr Donald B.Levy's question to a medical conference in the States:
“Would you like your doctor to be a mechanic or a gardener?”
He goes on to say-
“A mechanic fixes broken parts, but a gardener is interested in the whole plant. You have to till the soil, strengthen the plant, add in nutrients and care for it at each stage of growth.”
After a 25-year career in primary care, Dr. Levy switched gears and “became more interested in strengthening the patient beyond pills and procedures.” “There’s an innate healing force in the human body,” he said. “We’re beyond machines. I’m interested in the whole person and teaching people how to take care of themselves.”
Dr Levy here speaks to a holisitc view of health- the interconnection between all systems within our bodies. If we consider our breath for example, this is now known to reflect both our physical and psycholigcal state. When our whole body breath is constricted, it can reflect areas of tension and holding that if unattended to, will manifest as physical disease and psycholigcal suffering.
. We can see this full body participation with breath both in our cells and in the movement of small babies, where its peripheral limbs are integrated with the core movement of breath. As adults, our breath can shorten with stress and held tensions in our bodies, but the good news is that we can re-pattern and return to our full body breathing through somatic practice. I believe that it is possible as adults to reclaim this natural birthright, as we explore this optimal template as taught by our tiny little teachers of full body breathing, the cells.
Somatic philosophy teaches us that we can directly access and influence the state of whole body breath, as well as the health of our individual cells. We do this through our conscious awareness, through movement, and through touch. .
As we imagine or feel the flow of energy in our bodies, we can directly enhance this state of flow, encouraging energising and detoxification on both cellular and whole body levels. When we look to this early template of life as breath flowing unconstricted in the cells, we can draw on this as a reminder of what life fully breathed, and lived, can mean. We can consider how is the breathing of our cells, and our full body breath, now, as a fully grown adult.
What we focus on amplifies is a well-known saying within meditation circles, and to bring awareness to our cells allows them to enliven. Cells are the building blocks of our bodies, and as we tend to them, we can support their health- supporting their processes of respiration, digestion, the uptake and release of impulses and nutrients. In this way, we can maintain a flow between individual cells and the whole body cellular community, and we positively influence the physical and psychological processes of our whole being.
Cells and spirit.
In many holistic health and spiritual traditions, this state of flow is thought to equate not only with full health but also as the flow of universal energy within our bodies.Whether called prana within the Yogic tradition, chi within Chinese traditions, Orenda within the Native American, all speak to a life force that permeates within and around us.
So when we slow down, we can tune in to this ground of being, this state of flow, that permeates our cells and our whole bodies. It can bring healing and wellness of the deepest kind, as we drink deeply from source energy. In our movement and meditation practice, we can enter this state of cellular awareness, beyond ego, into fluid resonance and into the slipstream of being.
The gifts of cellular awareness include health but also extends into the realms of our awareness- our sense of self in this world, and how we may be considered to be both individuals but also part of a greater, inter-connected fabric of life. Again, cells can become our teacher, as we consider how each cell is an individual little being, self-contained within its membrane, but in constant resonance and connection with its environment and the greater body that is you.
Toward an Ecology of Being.
Just as our cells as individuals that are part of a greater whole, we can use this as a template for the interconnection of all life. As each cell breaths from its environment, so you breath from the environment around you. Just as a cell is an individual within the greater body community, so we too are individuals but also part of the global community of humans and nature.
We can understand and learn from this not just conceptually but experientially. As quieten our minds and attune to deeper states, it can allow us to directly experience this state of resonance, to feel ourselves part of the greater matrix of life .
To attune to our cells, therefore, holds many possibilities, for health, for healing, for full aliveness, and for growth of awareness. I feel great love when I think of these little worlds in miniature, dancing in their pulse of life.
In this moment, in contemplation of the cells within my being, I feel a resonance with Marion Woodman, when she writes that,
" Genuine love permeates every cell of the body."