Body and Mind
There might be - no, I'm sure there will be - a lot of you disagreeing with what I'm about to say, and if you were face to face with me you would be shouting by now.
I'll say it anyway: I don't think that there are spiritual or esoteric things going on. It's all down to chemistry!
What doesn't make our bodies less magnificent. A single bad word from someone you don't even know very well can throw you into utter dismay while a stranger smiling at you in the street can make your day.
Tiny signals we read from other people or our environment with our eyes, ears and noses indulge our bodies in a vast stream of chemical substances giving us all the feelings and the reactions to those in an instant, some of it happening on a subconscious level so that we don't even know why we all of a sudden feel a certain way.
This is the legacy of our ancestors who had to develop a refined feedback system in order to survive. Emotions created due to the release of chemicals are transformed into movement of the muscles at a speed which is actually rather mind-boggling. Robert Winston who is a very well known scientist once described the way we have evolved from our ancestors in a marvellous BBC TV-series called 'Human Instinct - how our primeval impulses shape our modern lives' (available as book as well), and also describes why some of the things we inherited from them are backfiring now.
An example on how thinking the right thoughts can release the right chemicals for fulfilling a task is playing golf. Since my husband started to play golf and I gave it a try for one summer as well, we noticed that our bodies respond to thoughts very instantaneously. And this is an example golfer all over the world will confirm: If you have a lake in front of you and you are thinking 'Or great, please not into the water', you quite definitely will hit into the water.
Your phrasing the words 'into the water' will create this image in your mind of water and something in it. Your body will subconsciously follow this image. You shouldn't even think the word 'water'. Find something behind the lake that you like, probably so far away that you think you never will reach it, something like 'Let's hit this lovely flowering bush far back there'. You will completely forget about the water, and you will have to be careful not to loose your ball in this stupid shrub. And that doesn't have anything to do with spirits come flying and make you do it. It is you yourself, making your body produce the right chemicals enabling it to move in a certain way.
All your glands are working non-stop to give you the right mix of drugs to achieve certain goals. That's how our ancestors survived. The ones getting it right made it and got their offspring through bad times the others went down. We enjoy the sunshine - especially after a long grey winter, because it helps producing certain vitamins which help to build our bones. We have cravings because our bodies are lacking certain nutrients. We feel anger or fear because we have to be alert if somebody is attacking us, and we have to be able to feel the calm of patience because otherwise we never would have been able to catch that deer.
Pity just is that our world has changed too quickly for our bodies to adapt to the modern civilisation. Our ancestors only had few resources. For example whenever they found carbos they had to stuff themselves, and that's why we like carbos so much. They have to taste good so that when you would find the scarce resource you would be able to overeat and to build fat depots. Only that carbos are not scarce anymore. And that is just one example where the make-up or our bodies that was created tens of thousands of years ago really badly backfires.
We have lost the intuition and the naive approach on how to live our lives because we got overwhelmed by the enchantments of the modern world. If we could re-discover the rules by which the body plays it's game we could come a bit closer to understand what some call 'Spirit' or 'Mind', and what I like to call 'My Chemicals'. And it would allow us to decide more easily when wallowing in vice is OK, and when austerity is the motto of the day.
Another reason why I like to think of chemicals is that they belong to the body. We might not have understood all the reactions going on, but what happens is part of the body. It is not like the 'Body & Spirit', 'Body & Mind' approach where there are two sides of the same thing - one heavy and routed on the ground, and the other rather light and not easily to be located - to be brought together, as if somebody had chopped them apart in the first place. To find my spirits - how do I do that? Calm down my mind - again, how am I supposed to do that when my hormones are playing havoc? But thinking in chemicals: They are mine, I can experiment with them, I can test them. They have instant impact on my body, so I will get feedback instantly.
I have to admit that I don't have a lot of experience with my spiritual self. I never did meditation classes, although when I did Karate as a teenager they always had some sort of a meditation bit, but all I got was cold feet and no warm feeling. And I did a yoga class once. The gymnastic, stretchy bit was great, but again: despite being warned by my Karate experience and hence girded with woollen socks and jumper I only felt cold during the meditation bit. But when I do my sport, however down I am at the beginning, when finished I always feel as if I could take on the world. And this feeling stays with me. And I'm feeling down less often now, this feeling transports into every corner of my life.
Moving my muscles a certain way creates certain mixtures of chemicals. Turning the chain of events by 180° puts the effect on display. If I feel sad I look sad, and if I feel happy I smile. But: If I make a sad face I will become sad, and if I make a funny face I will feel happy. This shows that the same effect like sadness or happiness can be created in different ways. Either by signals from the outside via nose, eyes, ears, skin, or the inside like hunger, which then let your muscles behave a certain way. Or by deliberately moving the muscles in the same way they would react to the stimulus from the outside. But that means that we can change how we feel by changing our posture, it means that we have direct influence.
And it makes the phrase 'pull your own strings' a clear statement: However haunted you may sometimes feel, however down or depressed - nobody can make that go away, but you. You can put yourself in charge, and by working on your body you have direct influence on taming your demons.