Men are usually driven, aggressive, analytical, practical and logical. Women are usually sensitive, caring, emotionally volatile and sometimes all over the place. Hence, when we meet a sensitive man or an aggressive woman we perceive something unusual (perhaps even unnatural), while a doctor may go even further and assume an underlying hormonal imbalance in both. And said doctor won’t be wrong. An aggressive, assertive woman is usually “enjoying” higher levels of testosterone while a sensitive man normally makes less testosterone and/or more estrogen. Is our character then driven by biology? And if so, where does the good old ‘mind over matter’ concept fit in? Those are the questions I tackle in the article today.
A tail about the chicken and the egg: do crazy hormones precede a crazy mind or..?
When we think of the mind-body connection, one example that usually pops up is the effect of stress on blood pressure. Thus, the moment you experience stress your blood pressure goes up accordingly. And as the stress goes down, so does blood pressure (unless, of course, there is something chronic going on). On the face of it, it seems that our mental and emotional experiences ‘drive’ our physiology.
However, we all know that some people’s blood tends to boil quickly while others tend to remain calm when faced with a stressful situation. Importantly, the association between higher levels of testosterone and increase in anger outbursts is hard to miss, regardless of gender. On the face of it, biology does seem to drive the mind (and our character) to a large extent. Thus, think of the behavior changes in a teenager, during pregnancy, and through menopause and andropause. Such changes are inevitable and correlate with change in hormonal levels. In other words, we can hardly question the role of biology (matter) over our mind.
Now, to make the discussion even more interesting, imagine beautiful scenery and your body gets immediately flooded with “happy” hormones which change your disposition accordingly. Similarly, imagining a love scene makes the body produce oxytocin and you become more loving, selfless and forgiving. All this is of course in favor of the ‘mind over matter’ principle, and we now seem to have reached an impasse. The discussion has become reminiscent of the chicken and the egg problem. What indeed does come first, the mind or the matter?
There is no question that the body and the mind interact and influence each other, sometimes the body taking over, other times our conscious involvement being able to interrupt a physiological pattern and change it to something else. But these seemingly contradictory observations do not necessarily go against the principle of downward causation. The popular interpretation of that principle is that the mind precedes the matter. The more sophisticated interpretation of the same principle, however, is that consciousness is the seed of all manifestation. Importantly, if we assume that the mind is not the same as consciousness, and that consciousness has a more universal nature and encompasses the mind (while the mind is somewhat tied to the body), then the mind-matter paradox is easily resolved. Then it’s not mind over matter, it’s consciousness over mind and matter, or consciousness over the bodymind.
Personally, I think of consciousness as Nature’s intelligence, a set of programs encoded in the field that instruct cell division and cell organization within the human body as well as every other pattern found in the universe. Similarly, scientists have utilized the theory of morphogenic fields in different ways to explain the organizational patterns of consciousness. To put it somewhat simplistically, morphogenic fields are Nature’s way to organize manifestation into various patterns (e.g. the shape of a leaf, the shape in which a bird flock flies, etc.).
Now, let’s go back to the connection between hormones and the mind. We saw that these two influence each other bi-directionally. On the face of it, is there a universal consciousness pattern, a morphogenic field of sorts, governing hormones and emotions alike? As it turns out, there surely is. Ever heard of chakras? Ever wondered what they are and what they do?
Interestingly, the chakra system comes close to the notion of a morphogenic field (i.e. an intelligent natural consciousness program encoded in the field) that governs the neuro-endocrinological as well as mental and emotional functioning of the bodymind. However, if we insist we can balance the chakras (and I think we can), we cannot seriously believe that the chakras themselves are Nature’s original intelligent design that we can or should need to ‘correct’ or manipulate in any way. No one can outsmart Nature, nor should anyone try to do that.
On that note, I subscribe to the view that chakras act as transformers – they ‘step down’ very high frequency energies encoded in the field (i.e. the morphogetic field that serves as a primary blueprint for the bodymind) and transform said high-frequency energy into slower, lower-frequency energies (e.g. the emotions, the nervous system, the hormonal system, etc.). Chakras are perhaps the middle man between universal consciousness and us. And the purpose of balancing a chakra would be to facilitate a cleaner, more objective communication between Nature’s intelligent design (of a human) and a specific bodymind (you, me, etc.). You can think of a chakra as an antenna (and chakras do extend off the body) that’s receiving a broadcast with a set of instructions concerning the functioning of the bodymind. The cleaner the signal is, the more optimal the functioning of the bodymind will be.
So how do you ‘balance’ a chakra? Since chakras themselves are vortexes of very high frequency energy, we can only address them with ‘energy medicine’ approaches, e.g. flower essences, Reiki, etc. BodyTalk, being consciousness-based medicine, is also an excellent modality when it comes to addressing chakra imbalances.