Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The body and the mind

I have spent the last couple of days and nights feeling rather ill. Two days ago my dinner decided to poison me. Something most definitely did not appreciate being eaten, and decided to fight back. I spent that night feeling nauseous; and what was being expelled from the lower half of my body is not something we should discuss in polite society. The nausea has continued off and on for the past two days, and the nights have been disturbed, often by strangely vivid dreams. It’s been difficult to read. These are also the first words I have been able to write since this began; a sign, I hope, that I am coming through the other end.

I have been restless, unable to concentrate, unable to sit still. Only lying on my bed would occasionally bring relief; until a wave of nausea also made that position untenable.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, it is at times like this that we can really appreciate the link between the mind and the body. This has been apparent in at least two ways. First, there has been my inability to concentrate, and related to that, my inability to write. Whatever toxins have been flowing though my body have affected my mind also. My thought processes are not independent of the physical substratum on which they depend. Although we recognise this when our body is struggling, are we also conscious of this at other times – when we feel “creative” for instance? What is going on in our body when the words of the Muse seem oh so clear?

The second way in which my body has affected my mind is through these dreams that I have mentioned. It’s as though the discomfort in my body is also seeking an outlet through the thoughts and images created by the mind. These dreams were written in the language of my body. I suppose, to some degree, this must always be true. But, again, we only really become aware of this when something changes: when we become ill, for instance.

I’m sure it’s true that the process can also work in the other direction: that our thoughts can affect the health of the body; that our mind can express itself through our body. At least, I am told this. And, from time to time, perhaps I have experienced this. For the last two or three days, however, my body has clearly carried out a coup and made it quite clear who was in charge. And that’s ok. I suspect, under the circumstances, it knows best.

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