Guest Post – S. K. Thomas, The Two Sides of Life

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brainWhether you are a child, a teenager or an adult, life gives us a mind that’s with a body to experience living here on Earth. This earthly experience has two voices that communicate through our minds and act from the thoughts and ideas of our natural mental intelligence. One voice is called sub-vocalization (thinking) and the other voice is called vocalization (talking). Both thinking and talking are expressions of our thoughts and ideas, which come into our minds.

There are also two voices that communicate through our bodies and act from the thoughts and feelings of our natural physical intelligence. One voice is called the sympathetic nervous system and the other voice is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Both systems are part of our physical brain and spinal cord together with all the body’s peripheral nerves. These two physical systems are very old in animal genetic evolution. These systems are activated by our thoughts and our feelings experienced in life. They can also be activated by our genetic physical conditioned reflexes, evolutionary bodily reflexes that require no thinking at all.

The sympathetic system is all about reactions to sentient clues. These clues from our environments will stimulate reactions to be experienced physically in the body. Thoughts from inside our minds can turn on the sympathetic system; as well as sense experiences observed and witnessed from our physical internal and external environments. These are the thoughts and the experiences, which are the reactions to fear. These fear reactions will turn on the sympathetic system.

The parasympathetic system is opposite in function to the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system is about love. It is about love because when you are experiencing love, you are in the parasympathetic system. Simply stated, love is positive (good) and hate is negative (bad) as far as the emotions go. E-motions are just “energies-moving” within us in each moment of life, which can be feelings of good or not.

When the parasympathetic is activated, you and your body are in a relaxed state of being. We love to breathe, drink, eat, move, rest and sun naturally because that is what life is, by definition. Life loves being here on Earth; try to remember that. You cannot digest food or drink properly, feel happy or experience anything good when the sympathetic system is activated in our bodies. We are not able to procreate either if we are stressed and chronically in the reactive sympathetic reflexes of freeze, fright, flight or fight, which are all physical conditions and effects from fear. No animal can and that’s just the way it is.

Not only are there two voices for our minds to speak in, thinking and talking, there are also two voices for our minds to listen to.

Not only are there two voices for our minds to speak in, thinking and talking, there are also two voices for our minds to listen to. One voice is called the “ego” and the other voice is called the “heart.” Both the “heart” and the “ego” are metaphysical because like the mind in general with all its emotions, it’s not made of matter, just energy, which we cannot see or put our hands on. The “ego” is where our learned and witnessed memories of this life are kept.

Our five physical senses, which are hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting, and there past history of memories are recorded in the ego mind. These mental recordings have paralleled synapses in our physical brains for recalling this surviving and living information from our senses, which has been experienced throughout one’s life. Much of what we have learned and have sensed in life is for our success in living and for our protection in surviving and staying alive. Our first experience with fire, this is a good example of learning. It’s a learning not to touch fire again.

girlThe “heart” experiences are something that is not learned. The “heart” part of our minds is something older then our life. It is Nature itself, which has a very long existence. Some say the “heart” is where our soul speaks to us. Some say, the soul is what lives on after our passing. In most of the wisdom traditions on Earth, our soul is what connects us to God’s voice if we are listening with our “heart.” The “heart” is a natural and an instinctual creative process too. You may even say the “heart” is genetic or Nature, which is always giving us new information. New information, like a response to a person you don’t know, generating a spontaneous smile. For me the “heart” has something to do with recognizing “love” everywhere in Nature and for recognizing love within ourselves for sharing with others. It is like being with kittens or puppies or seeing a baby elephant, it just feels good from inside in those moments and that’s the parasympathetic nervous system.

When I was a boy I sensed my father didn’t like me based on what I witnessed of his behavior while I was growing up. I know now in retrospect that he had lots of problems in his life because he did not have a father to learn from when he was a child growing up. My thinking mind would drive me nuts all day and night when I was a boy trying to figure out why my father didn’t like me, or why everyone in my family could not get along. I would lie in bed at night thinking endlessly, looking for answers to my problematic mental thoughts. This kind of mental stress was all “fear” based thoughts and the sympathetic nervous system of the body is stimulated by these contracting fears from within the mind, which will subsequently affect the body. The sympathetic system is an old genetic biological survival mechanism in all animals that’s designed to help them stay alive. Much of what happens within the body is a physical reflex. These reflexes arise from what was learned from all animal species all through evolutionary time, which we humans have genetically inherited from Nature’s family tree.

I realized from my thinking mind’s memory when I was a boy that something was lacking in my environment, which had to do with the subject of love.

I realized from my thinking mind’s memory when I was a boy that something was lacking in my environment, which had to do with the subject of love. I did not have a clue what that something was but I discovered that prayer forced my mind to stop thinking. So I prayed a lot as a child to get myself to sleep every night. Prayer for me turned off my sympathetic nervous system with its bodily contractions from fear based thoughts by turning on the parasympathetic nervous system, which deals with expanding relaxation for the entire body. Today there are all kinds of fears and stresses, like driving on the freeways with all those other crazy drivers. We get used to these activities with practice, but our bodies and our minds are still at the affects of these fears with contracting reactions. When we lose our ability to relax in everyday moments, chronic negative unconscious thinking habits of uncontrolled fears will have major impacts on our mental and physical states of well being, if we ignore them and don’t change.

When I was ten I asked a nun why she was wearing a wedding ring. She told me she married Jesus to experience love. This little answer inspired me to become an altar boy with the intent to later become a priest. The best part for me of serving mass as an altar boy every morning at 6:30 was the very short written daily sermons. Everyday of the year was a particular day in commemoration to a historical event or to a historical person in Christian history. My quest to understand love hit a milestone when I read the words one day from Thomas Aquinas. The daily missal’s written words from him were, “Test everything, retain what is good and avoid any assemblance of evil.” This little saying caused me to question everything present in my mental and physical life as a boy from 10-13 years of age.

This ability to question everything that came out of my thinking mind changed me radically. Two weeks prior to entering the ninth grade, a seminary to become a priest, I decided not to go. This was a dilemma for my now divorced mother and father at the time to find me a high school to attend in such a short notice. The local high school where all my friends from my grammar school went was full. Because of some friends of my father, they pulled some strings for me and I went to this all boys’ high school that was an hour and a half bus ride away from where I lived. My first ninth grade report card was not good. I had three D’s, a C- and a F. Boy, those grades generated some stressful moments for my thinking mind. For me the worse thing about it was the F because it was in religion class. I remember being very depressed because my quest to understand love in religion class, and my effort, was labeled with an F grade.

I remember the day, some time after that report card, I was intent on listening to this Christian Brother theologian teach me religion, which I thought had something to do with love. But my intent attention gave me no results because I didn’t understand a thing he said from that class. I was sitting in my chair after class at my lowest point when a thought came to me. The thought was, “I would learn love by loving myself.” This new understanding became a path of enquiry for me all through my teenage years. Those years were all about saying to myself, “If I loved myself, would I have these thoughts.” Later I added, “If I loved myself, would I breathe, drink or eat this stuff.” This kind of questioning led me, a few years later, to what I call the “wild lifestyle” of living.

In the wild, animals live in the parasympathetic most of the time. They are relaxed. A deer in the forest spends most of its time seeking nourishing foods from its natural environment, digesting it in an unstressed physical experience. A mountain lion will appear to her in the foreground and with her sense of sight everything instantly changes. The sympathetic nervous system then turns on the flight reaction. Forget about food, let go of any excess weight in your bladder and rectum while the deer runs for its life. In a minute or less the deer gets to a safe distance and the parasympathetic nervous system turns on again and stays on, until there’s another life threatening and fearful moment. The deer is relaxed again to eat and continue living.

We all have bodily genetic protective reflexes that are in every cell living within us. We all mentally observe and witness either the ego’s contractive sympathetic reactive recordings or the heart’s expansive parasympathetic response recordings of the past by recalling them. There are also the ones created anew in each fresh moment, which become new sympathetic or parasympathetic recordings for our memory banks. Both experiences we will sub-vocalize or vocalize them and they either come from the “ego” or from the “heart.”

These are the two sides of “Life.” One side is surviving and the other side is living. One side has more fun and is where our love will be found and shared with other “heart” experiences. These “heart” experiences will always be the experiences of something you have never experienced before. These experiences will be added to our memory synapses in our brains. Let’s work to have more parasympathetic expanding mental and physical experiences in our life and with our loved ones. Like seeing more beautiful sunsets together, where no two sunsets are ever alike. This will be very good for us, to experience our “hearts” more, which will quiet our minds and relax our bodies. We all could benefit from more quiet time in our minds and a more relaxed body. Life then becomes a practice and I love to practice what gives me feelings that are “good.” I resonate with those “heart” people who spell “good” in another way. They spell it by leaving out one of the middle o’s. They spell it this way, “God.”

– Guest Writer S.K. Thomas is the Author of the mind/body Health ebook titled “The Fertile Ground”…..Click here for more details.