Anatomy of the Spirit in a Nutshell

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Twenty years ago, Dr. Carolyn Myss offered the world what would become a classic text on energy medicine, Anatomy of Spirit. The premise of the book – that many illnesses are created when people go against their spirit – offered a different way of thinking about health. Myss based the book on her own experiences as a medical intuitive along with 15 years of research into energy medicine.

Anatomy of the Spirit uses the Hindu chakra system as a way to categorize different parts of the body. Myss then describes the attitudes, beliefs, emotional stresses and psychological stresses associated with each chakra. She also identifies illnesses that correspond with each chakra. “My particular insights…have shown me that emotional and spiritual stresses or dis-eases are the root causes of all physical illnesses,” Myss stated.

The author adds another important layer by integrating sacred concepts from Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism into her categorizations. “The universal jewel within the four major religions is that the Divine is locked into our biological system in seven stages of power that lead us to become more refined and transcendent in our personal power,” she wrote.

Myss dedicates a chapter to each chakra, which includes a description of the overarching theme, examples of health issues related to that particular area and questions for self-examination. The following offers a brief summary of each chakra, as described in Anatomy of the Spirit:

First Chakra = Tribal Power
This chakra parallels Baptism in Christianity and Shekhinah, Gaia and Creation in the Judaism tradition. Parts of the body associated with this chakra include the base of the spine, legs, bones, feet, rectum and immune system. This chakra is tied to the physical safety of the family and group, the ability to provide life’s necessities, a feeling of being at home, a sense of law and order and the ability to stand up for oneself. Physical issues that are linked to this chakra include chronic lower back pain, sciatica, varicose veins, rectal tumors, rectal cancer, depression and immune disorders.

Second Chakra = Power of Relationships
This chakra is comparable to communion in Christianity and Yesod in the Sefirah tradition. Body parts that are governed by this chakra include the sexual organs, the large intestine, lower vertebrae, pelvis, appendix, the bladder and the hip area. Issues tied to the second chakra include blame, guilt, money, sex, power, control, creativity, ethics and honor in relationships. Health issues related to this chakra include chronic lower back pain, sciatica, ob/gyn issues, pelvic pain, lower back pain, sexual potency and urinary problems.

Third Chakra = Personal Power
This chakra is associated with confirmation in Christianity and Hod and Nezah on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. This chakra governs the abdomen, stomach, upper intestines, liver, gallbladder, kidney, pancreas, adrenal glands, spleen and middle spine. Issues related to this chakra include trust, fear, intimidation, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, care of oneself, care of others, responsibility for making decisions, sensitivity to criticism and personal honor. Health issues include arthritis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, colon issues, intestinal issues, pancreatitis, diabetes, indigestion, anorexia, bulimia, liver dysfunction, hepatitis and adrenal dysfunction.

Fourth Chakra = Emotional Power
This chakra is parallel to marriage in Christianity and Tif’eret on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. The fourth chakra is linked to the heart, circulatory system, lungs, shoulders, arms, ribs, breasts, diaphragm and thymus gland. Mental and emotional issues related to this chakra include love, hatred, resentment, bitterness, grief, anger, self-centeredness, loneliness, commitment, forgiveness, compassion, hope and trust. Physical issues that may emerge in this chakra include congestive heart failure, heart attack, mitral valve prolapse, cardiomegaly, asthma, allergies, lung cancer, bronchial pneumonia, upper back pain, shoulder pain and breast cancer.

Fifth Chakra = The Power of Will
This area is linked to confession in Christianity and Gevurah and Hesed on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. This chakra is tied to the throat, thyroid, trachea, neck vertebra, mouth, teeth, gums, esophagus, parathyroid and hypothalamus. Mental and emotional issues related to this chakra include choice, strength of will, personal expression, pursuing dreams, using one’s own personal power to create, addiction, judgment, criticism, faith, knowledge and decision-making capacity. The physical issues that can emerge with this chakra include a raspy throat, chronic sore throat, mouth ulcers, gum difficulties, temporomandibular joint issues, scoliosis, laryngitis, swollen glands and thyroid problems.

Sixth Chakra = Power of the Mind
This area corresponds to ordination in Christianity and Binah and Hokhmah on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. This chakra is associated with the brain, nervous system, eyes, ears, nose, pineal gland and pituitary gland. The sixth chakra is linked to mental and emotional issues such as self-evaluation, truth, intellectual abilities, feelings of adequacy, openness to others’ ideas, ability to learn from one’s experiences and emotional intelligence. Physical health issues that are tied to this chakra include brain tumor, hemorrhage, stroke, neurological disturbances, blindness, deafness, full spinal difficulties, learning disabilities and seizures.

Seventh Chakra = Spiritual Connection
This chakra is tied to the Christian sacrament of extreme unction (final anointing as part of the last rites) and the crown of the Sephirot on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. The seventh chakra is linked to the muscular system, the skeletal system and the skin. Mental and emotional issues that are related to this chakra include the ability to trust life, values, ethics, courage, humanitarianism, selflessness, being able to see the larger pattern, faith, inspiration, spirituality and devotion. The physical dysfunctions associated with this chakra include energetic disorders, mystical depression, chronic exhaustion not tied to a physical disorder and extreme sensitivities to environmental factors.

Assigned and edited by Jennifer Buergermeister, written by Dorian Martin

Sources for This Post:
Publishers Weekly. (ND). Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing.
Myss, C. & Shealy, C.N. (1996). Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing.

Vagus Nerve Unveiled

When we think about staying healthy, we often think of muscles, ligaments, organs, joints and bones. However, we often don’t about keeping our nerves healthy. However, our nerves are critical to the healthy functioning of the body. In fact, one specific nerve – the vagus nerve – is central to the most basic of bodily functions that we often take for granted.  The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves and, as such, is the leader of the parasympathetic nervous system. This nerve, which begins at the base of the skull, spans the body and links the respiratory, digestive and nervous systems. The vagus nerve is responsible for regulating multiple critical bodily functions, including controlling the heart rate, monitoring breathing, preventing inflammation, linking the brain with the gut, triggering the relaxation response and supporting the formation of memories.

The state of the vagus nerve is linked to the quality of a person’s mental and physical health. People who have a high vagal tone are more resilient when faced with stress and can move more easily to a relaxed state. In comparison, people with a low vagal tone are more sensitive to stress and prone to diseases such as heart issues, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and epilepsy. These people often have weak digestion and increased heart rate.

Strengthening the Vagus Nerve

Just like muscles and tendons, the vagal tone can be improved through specific exercises and habits. For instance, in a 2013 Psychology Today post Christopher Bergland suggests adopting habits that improve vagal tone. These habits include:

– Develop a habit of positive thinking. Learned optimism helps the vagus nerve rewire the mind to adopt a more resilient stance under pressure.

– Be physically active. Strength training, aerobic exercise and yoga help build the nerve’s tone and harmonizes hormones and neurotransmitters. The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health also points to studies that suggest that yoga’s breathing techniques helps tone the vagus nerve.

– Avoid high-strung people. Because emotions are “contagious,” try to avoid spending significant amounts of time with high-strung, anxious or nervous people.

– Embrace positive emotions such as kindness. Positive emotions as well as positive social connections are tied to high vagal tone as well as overall physical health.

Diet also is an important component in creating nerve health. Fish, green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables offer nutrients that support healthy nerve function. Furthermore, eating a healthy diet can help control high blood sugar, which — if left unchecked — can damage the vagus nerve.

Assigned by Jennifer Buergermeister, written by Dorian Martin for Jennyoga. Edited by Jennifer Buergermeister

Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

Bergland, C. (2013). The Neurobiology of Grace Under Pressure. Psychology Today.

Garvin, C. (2013). Foods That Heal the Nervous System. Livestrong.com.

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. (ND). Why Yoga Works.

Rosenfeld, J. (2015). 9 Nervy Facts About the Vagus Nerve. MentalFloss.com.

Weil. A. (2009). Natural Treatment for Gastroparesis. Dr. Weil.com.