Many of us seem to think inner peace results from either a state of mind, or peaceful outer circumstances. What if that’s only part of it, and a small part, at that? What we experience as emotion is simply chemical reactions in the body. What if these chemicals are the most important thing? What if inner peace really is peace within our bodies?
We all know that outer stimuli cause emotional reactions. Being chased by a lion releases the adrenaline for fight or flight. Even reading something about politics can make your blood boil, as the chemicals of anger saturate the body. Sexual arousal can be a consequence of a visual image, or even just a thought. But what if it works the other way, also? The chemicals cause the thoughts. Chemical imbalance isn’t a new concept for sever depression and anxiety, but it may be more subtle, and important to everyone with a body.
The ego plays a supporting role here, because its job is to maintain our stories, whatever those stories are. When we get intuitive information, the ego tries to make it fit into our existing storyline. When we get chemicals of emotion, it does the same thing. If the chemicals of anger are felt, the ego looks for a story to go with the emotion. That’s what we pay it for.
So, if you’re happily driving to work, then suddenly feel angry, you make up a reason. “I hate my job!” “My spouse always upsets me!” “That political commercial is turning my stomach!” When in reality, it wasn’t anything on the outside. Maybe your breakfast just hit your liver, and it’s talking to you the only way it can. Maybe we need to spend more time listening to our bodies, and less time looking outside for a story.
Clarity and peace are mental, but also physical. We need to pay attention to both body and mind, to feed each properly, and keep each clean and clear. Most of us put the body last, but maybe it’s the foundation of our overall wellbeing. We have been taught to ignore our bodies in industrialized countries. We are expected to use our will power to force our bodies to look or act a certain way, regardless of how we actually feel. Not only that, but our food and water has been altered almost beyond recognition to our bodies. It no longer promotes health.
There isn’t one specific diet that will benefit all. Some thrive as vegans, some really need meat. But there are a few things that all of us should avoid: GMO, factory farmed meat, processed sugar, alcohol and recreational drugs, and excess of any kind. These things aren’t healthy for any body, not even your pets. Our bodies weren’t designed for what has become “normal”. What’s worse, GMO and factory farmed meat (usually fed GMO) aren’t required to be labeled as such in the USA. If it’s not labeled organic, then it’s probably GMO. Care enough about your own health to do some research before you buy.
Emotional chemicals were meant to be fleeting in nature, used as feedback as a teaching tool. Anger lets us know a personal boundary has been violated – we feel the surge of anger, notice where something went wrong, and it dissipates naturally. With our diets gumming up the process, emotional chemicals can’t leave the system as quickly or completely as they should. Additionally, the body itself is sending distress signals in the form of chemicals. It’s just a big chemical soup inside. Ew.
The discussion can go further, by looking into the gut-brain ties. The gut is considered the second brain, and healing the gut makes significant improvements in cognitive abilities. In many spiritual traditions, we are taught we have three brains: the brain, the gut, and the heart. In my observation, we need to heal both the mind and the gut, before we can reach the wisdom of the heart.
Instead of searching for inner peace in our circumstances, let’s focus on creating it in our bodies. Befriend your body. Treat it like the center of wisdom and awareness it is. Pay attention to how your diet affects your emotions. Your body is talking. Are you listening?
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