**note: if you have not ready the previous articles in this series then begin with The 4 Needs of Your 2 Bodies
Principle #3: The body requires Homeostasis, Coherence and Rhythm
Human beings inherently prefer the path of predictability and efficiency and as such our bodies are designed with several means to optimize for these preferences. The presence of the innate dynamics of these systems results in our ability as a species to be adaptive and resilient in the face of unpredictability and the inevitable onslaughts from our environment.
The scientific term for the state of this efficiency, adaptability and balance is homeostasis. Homeostasis is defined as the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function. We are in fact never in pure balance but rather are in a state of constantly attempting to adapt to stimuli.
In its efforts to maintain homeostasis the body and its systems are also seeking states of coherence and rhythm. Rhythm equates to predictability in some sense and Coherence is an alignment of systems with one another resulting in optimal functioning, much like the crew team in the image above.
Dualism and Homeostasis
As a part of the inherent dualistic nature of our physical reality, our bodies are designed with numerous systems of organs and glands that are diphasic and dualistic. Most commonly recognized is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which extends throughout the entire body and operates primarily in either a stimulatory or inhibitory capacity with those organs and glands to which it is connected. These two parts of this system are called the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS. For instance, when activated into stimulation the sympathetic branch signals your adrenal glands to produce adreno-corticoids and it signals your liver to release glycogen which then turns into glucose (fuel) in your blood stream. Conversely, your parasympathetic system has an opposing response which is to trigger the release of hormones such as DHEA and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to slow heart rate and stimulate growth and repair amongst numerous other bodily responses.
This dynamic between these two systems is an ongoing and continuous interaction. Your heart rate for instance will subtly increase on inhalation and decrease on exhalation. The ANS is only one system that functions in a checks and balances manner. Other examples of biology continuously pursuing balance include the acid/alkaline balance system, neurotransmitter balancing system and lipo-oxidative balancing system (anabolic/catabolic) to name a few.
Without the continual function of these dualistic systems, our bodies would quickly begin to fail. Adaptability and resilience would be non-existent. And so in order to meet the needs of these balancing systems and stay resilient and healthy you must:
As creatures of the natural world we are designed to fit in with the natural rhythms of this planet and other planetary bodies. We have circadian (24 hour) rhythms, monthly lunar rhythms, seasonal rhythms and solar maximum and minimum rhythms and possibly even rhythms that extend well beyond a single lifespan. It is in these rhythms that our bodies find a degree of predictability within a world and environment of relative unpredictability. Our bodies know that the sun will rise each morning, and our bodies know that the moon will have an increasing pull effect on us as we move towards full moon.
These regular rhythms provide our bodies with the ability to rest and repair itself. In the night as we sleep and in the winter as we slow down we have the opportunity, if we listen to our bodies, to reset the system in order to maintain homeostasis and resilience. If we separate ourselves from these natural rhythms then we will increasingly lose our ability to adapt and maintain homeostasis. Take these steps to maintain your natural rhythms:
"Coherence in ordinary language means correlation, a sticking together or connectedness; also, a consistency in the system. So we refer to people’s speech or thought as coherent, if the parts fit together well, and incoherent if they are uttering meaningless nonsense, or presenting ideas that don’t make sense as a whole. Thus, coherence in this context refers to wholeness and a global order: This is coherence as a distinctive organization of parts, the relations among which generate an emergent whole that is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
When coherence is increased in a single system that is coupled to other systems, it can pull the other systems into coherence or entrainment, resulting in increased cross-coherence in the activity of the other systems, even across different time scales of activity. An example of this is in the increased heart-brain synchronization that occurs in a heart coherent mode." (Heartmath Clinical Certification Manual, pp 3-4)
Much like the crew team that works synchronously to move the boat through the water, our body systems need to achieve an alignment that optimizes function. The best way to achieve this coherence is through this heart-brain connection using breath, mind and emotions. By achieving heart coherence, which is a physiological state, we are able to shift our brains into a coherent and optimal states which then signals to the rest of the body to shift into a homeostatic state. Below is the Heart Focused Breathing technique that you can do to shift into this coherent state and further support your body's pursuit of homeostasis and rhythm:
In the next article of this series I will be exploring the 4th need of the body which is a sense of safety and connection.
Danny Maresca considers himself a philosopher, scientist and teacher but most of all a humble explorer of this reality. This blog covers topics he finds fascinating as they relate to his own interpretation of his own experience of life. He hopes that you will find value in what you read but openly invites deeper and different perspectives to his own.