I was able to begin learning the concept of a holistic life perspective when I began meditation practices learning the vipassana meditation technique. The technique’s name specifically means to observe the mind/body connection “as it is”. The practitioner scans the body and observes the sensations that arise and fall moment-to-moment and the interaction that occurs on or within the mind/body .
This moment-to-moment focus of awareness on sensations is difficult, initially, as the mind needs time and patience to learn how to properly focus and not become distracted by wandering thoughts and moods. It is within these wanderings that the practitioner begins to see and learn more about this mind/body connection. Over time one becomes more proficient at not diminishing the amount of mental chatter, wandering and wavering between thoughts and sensations but, rather, at being able to remain attentively and alertly aware. It is through this awareness that a clearer picture of life begins to emerge: how subconscious mental and emotional patterns interact with the physical.
Homeostasis – Balance between All Things
Homeostasis is a process normally defined as being a tendency toward the relative stability of equilibrium between interdependent elements or processes and, with a little imagination, it is possible to see how the term can be applied broadly, across many spectrums. Our bodies are a great example and representation of the multi-level expression of homeostasis that pervades between all things.
Cellularly, the cell works to keep pH and pressure balanced internally between the cell wall and its external environment. Through special processes, the cell communicates with the external world and regulates this balance to ensure survival and harmony. Even finer, molecules form by sharing electrons, creating enough of a balance to stick together. Our bodies, our cells, are constantly interacting with the environment to ensure that we are in a relatively balanced state so that we might thrive. Any sort of prolonged imbalance will likely push us into a state of sickness and disease, allowing foreign substances and invaders to thrive in place of our own healthy integrity. So, physiologically, it is important that we maintain healthy patterns of behavior to support our internal systems attempts at balance, homeostasis.
What about levels of operation, or being, that are beyond the confines of cellular processes? As an organism, the body transports us through time/space and within that we are met with daily interactions between our peers, society, family, plants and animals etc etc. We have to navigate a world and our bodies have to regulate all the while.
So would it be too far fetched to assume that our perception and subsequent interaction with the world would affect our internal states and point of homeostatic balance? I think not, as our limbic and endocrine systems prove the hormonal and emotional interactions prove albeit subconsciously, and vipassana proves it through actual observational experience to the practitioner.
Stuck in the dark far too long…
For far too long have we simply operated within the confines of a dull and dilute awareness of ourselves and the world around us. Fortunately we are now being exposed to more and more light being shed on the full spectrum of conscious awareness, and its influence of directed attention, with the emergent research being done by neuroscientists and modern meditation practitioners (see theGarrison Institute, IONS, or Himalayan Institute for examples) we are learning that the powers of human conscious awareness extend beyond the limits of physical ability.
Our bodies are naturally attuned to the environments around them, assessing and responding as needed to balance and maintain health. Why should we not be as equally vigilant regarding our environments? Our mental and emotional states? Our relationships and place in the world?
Vipassana meditation practice allows for us to learn the intimate interactions between our mentals/emotional states and our bodies. Practicing any meditation technique will uncover, over time, these interactions. It is with the insights gained through meditative awareness on ourselves that we gain access to a deeper understanding of how we are constantly interacting within our body, minds and souls with the world around us.
With practice, we can learn how to cultivate homeostatic balances within all aspects of our lives, taking a formerly unconscious cellular process and turning it into a conscious tool used to enliven and enrich our lives both inside and out.
Written by Kyle Dondero – Project Manager / Yoga Instructor
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