Balance and Health
The Autonomic Nervous System
We can look at balance in many systems of our bodies, indeed at medical school budding doctors today learn all about ‘homeostasis’, however the balance of the autonomic nervous system deserves special attention.
We are talking about the 2 opposing systems of the (sympathetic) ‘Fight & Flight’ vs the (parasympathetic)’Rest & Restore’.
In our modern busy lives we have become out of balance. Our sympathetic drive has become dominant and eventually the stress associated with this leads to exhaustion and burnout, physically and emotionally.
Another way to look at balance is between the mind and the body or the left and right sides of our brain.
What we experience as mind is primarily our experience of the left side of the brain, which has shaped our Western world. Though it has brought great advances in technology it has also tended to take us away from our intuitive, feeling and imaginative side.
Our right brain is connected to our emotions and our body and focussing more on these can lead us back to balance.
An Ancient View
The concept of balance is integral to many ancient medical systems. Perhaps the best known today is Traditional Chinese Medicine which recognises 5 elements that need to be in a dynamic balance for there to be health of the body, mind and spirit.
The elements can be equated with the seasons, each bringing new challenges and opportunities for balance.
Hippocrates (The ‘Father of Modern Medicine’) used a four element system -the 4 ‘Humours’ or ‘Temperaments’.
In India however where they have three seasons (Summer, Winter and Monsoon), they have a 3 element system.