Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Boundaries of Healthicine - of Body, Mind and Motorcyles

I have a friend who 'grew up' on dirt bikes.  His entire family has been riding dirt bikes for years, participating in many events and competitions.

I decided to learn to ride a motorbike, and enrolled in a 'motorcycle safety course' provided, in part, by the local police force.

We were taught the technique of 'counter-steering'.  You can click the link if you want to learn more about how it works.

However, when I enthusiastically tried to discuss counter-steering with my friend, he denied ever using it.  "I don't counter-steer", he said, "I don't need to, I just lean.  I learned to ride the bike when I was very young and I know how it works."

A very interesting situation.  Clearly his body knew how to counter-steer, or he would not be able to ride with any level of proficiency.  But his mind didn't know.  If he tried to ride the motorbike with his mind - he would quickly fail, with possible serious consequences because his mind is not just wrong, it is also over-confident.

This illuminates an interesting challenge when we study the hierarchy of healthicine:

Where is the line between body and mind?

Does his knowledge of counter-steering reside in his body, or in his mind?  Is his mind separated into a 'conscious part' which didn't know how to counter-steer, and an unconscious part that does know?  Or is the counter-steering technique only known to the nervous system components that are part of his body?  Does the mind extend into the body?

The hierarchy of healthicine is defined with 10 layers, from genetics to nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit, and community.

These layers provide useful distinctions when we study healthiness and when we study illness.

However, it is possible that the boundaries are just as interesting and complex and the layers. Each boundary, from nutrients to genetics, from cells to tissues, from tissues to organs, from organs to systems is full of richness and complexity.  Each boundary is fuzzy.  Where do the cells end, and the tissues begin?  Where does the heart end and the circulatory system begin?

The space between each layer, or the fuzziness of the boundaries of each layer, tests whether the layers are valid or useful.  They serve to challenge our understanding and help us to learn more.

We are well aware that the boundaries between mind and spirit are not well defined.  But we often forget that the boundaries between nutrients and genetics are also fuzzy.  Nutrients can switch genetics on and off.  Does that make the nutrient a genetic factor?

It gets more complex.

When we view the second level disciplines of the hierarchy of healthcine, we see many more boundaries. Each of these boundaries is real in some sense, and artificial in some sense.  At each boundary layer, lie many complexities, ambiguities, graduations and fuzziness. At each boundary layer, there exist issues that challenge our understanding.

The hierarchy of healthicine is a powerful tool to help us understand. We need to acknowledge that our body, or our intuition can sometimes understand more clearly than our rational mind.  We need to acknowledge and accept the fact that our unconscious mind can sometimes know - but not explain what it knows. Maybe someday we will learn that our cells 'understand' things we have not even thought about.

If we are to attain personal health freedom, we need to be free to choose, even if we can't explain why we want to choose.  At the same time, we need to question our mind and our intuition to move our knowledge forward.

to your health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: