-R K Chandrika
I guess I don’t have the guts to go on further about detoxing the gut, without explaining why it is so important to clean it up in so many different ways.
I am not exaggerating in stating that a clean and optimally functioning gut is key to both sprightly health and glorious self-realization. It is that critical, if either means anything to you.
Feeling the Gut
Let’s first examine our gut with our own experience. I’m sure you can relate to that flutter in the stomach of invisible butterflies? Recall the times before an important exam, an interview, a performance, doing something dangerous like jumping into water from a height, hearing sudden adverse news about someone close to you… the list is endless. Anxiety or fear are the easiest emotionsto identify in your body; invariably in the pit of the stomach. Extreme anxiety can even cause you to throw up. More often it accumulates over a period of time and manifests in symptoms like hyper-acidity, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, gastric affectations, frequent stomach infections, colitis, malabsorption of nutrients, poor gastro-intestinal motility, etc.
The English language is brimming with recognition of this connection in its expressions like, ‘gutless’, ‘gut-wrenching’, ‘full of guts’, ‘gut reaction’, and so on. But other emotions like anger, depression, grief, jealousy, joy, contentment, and elation too affect the guts very tangibly, for better or worse.
Worries are often subtle enough to escape identification. It includes programming of ‘musts’ ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ about living, inviolable definitions of what is acceptable or not, and pressures of living up to our own self-image. Everything that goes contrary to these definitions, conditions and imagery causes some form of anxiety, a certain contraction and tightening up of the abdomen, and stressed breathing, all of which goes on usually without engaging our awareness.
The gut, incidentally, is also known as the gastrointestinal or GI tract or the digestive tract, which is our food’s pathway beginning at the mouth, through the oesophagus, the stomach, the large and small intestines, and out of the anus.
Gut feeling, Second Brain and Disease
When the wise world urges you to trust your gut instinct, or gut feeling, when faced with a challenging situation, it is not just a euphemism. There is an intricate network of neurons between the brain and gut, called the enteric nervous system (ENS), often referred to as the second brain of the body. It has a complex circuitry, only loosely connected to the Central Nervous System, and works as more or less an independent entity, initiating action, learning, recalling and producing those gut feelings that you are supposed to pay attention to.
The brain and the the gut-brain are on a two-way communication system, with the state of each capable of impacting the other. The gut has more neurons than the highly complex spinal cord other than being home to significant neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and psychoactive chemicals, all of which influence how you feel.
In studying how the higher brain and gut interact, scientists have been able to better map the root of how and why people react as they do to situations, and why they hold the perspectives that they do.
To illustrate, the vagus nerve responds to fear or anxiety (overt or suppressed) by increasing the serotonin production in the gut, which in turn overstimulates the gut and causes diarrhoea. Again, the amount of bacteria in your system is directly proportionate to the volume of mucus in the lining of your GI system, and the Nervous system subconsciously controls the amount of mucus present there. When good and bad bacteria go out of balance in the gut, nutritional deficiencies and inflammatory conditions give rise to a whole gamut of diseases, from skin and respiratory diseases to cancers and auto immune conditions.
But let’s remind ourselves, the brain-gut is a two-way road, and the reverse is equally true – if you mindfully dig in your heels, and adopt a feeling-state or state of consciousness that is at complete variance with what you feel right now, this will completely change your gut biochemistry. It is gainful for most people to work it at both ends. So if you feel inclined to eat that sugary treat, or itch to smack your team member for being annoying, or have melancholia threaten your time with your favourite person, you don’t have to see yourself as the victim of your gut country of bacteria. You can launch your own mind programme of feeling satiated, or seeing the team helpful, or feeling happy or peaceful, and reconstitute your own neurotransmitters and send the bossy bacteria scuttling for nirvana.
All meditations, qi gong, prayers, awareness systems, or non-techniques are a quest for you to re-gain mastery over your mind. Alongside each are systems to help your two brains function optimally by keeping the body at its most receptive to absorb the wisdom and clarity coming from your higher self.
It’s a bit like cleaning out debris and dust layers from the solar panels to let them function at their natural, optimal best.
So you have in conjunction with mind techniques, methods like fasting, the elaborate yogic shatkarmas, colonics, enemas and gut detox regimens, and kidney and liver detoxes. Going another level, detoxing and connecting the body-mind partnership are breath detoxes like different kinds of breath regulation or pranayama, energy cleansing practice like circulating and strengthening qi and storing it at the dantien (significantly, situated at the lower abdomen, which is part of the GI tract).
Yogani of Advanced Yoga Practices (www.aypsite.com)in line with the classic Raja Yoga system emphasises often enough the importance for a clean gut in the progress to self-realisation. He devotes a whole book to the subject of diet and nutrition, and the practices of sharkarmas and amaroli or shivambu (auto-urine therapy) in cleansing the gut and keeping it that way. While we are on that, and before you are tempted to snicker at the practice of drinking urine, you may want to study theDamarTantra, an ancient tome on urine therapy, or the Sunnah accounts from the Prophet’s times, of camel urine prescribed as medicine. If you are put off by the religious tones there, read up the classic, more rational study,The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy, by J W Armstrong.
You can feel your way through different ways to keep your guts cleaned up to achieve the glory of super confidence, intuition, courage and wisdom, or you can assume such a mind state and watch your guts get into shape, or do both at the same time. Each of us will be guided in a different way, and all of them are right as long as you are getting the results you desire.
There is enough on gut cleansing to satisfy and serve people pursuing different goals of mind and matter, and you need only follow the ones that call out to you, from the wide array that I have written on before, and shall continue to present here.
R K Chandrika has been imparting nature treatment and spiritual healing and practices for the past 20 years, apart from being a professional documentary filmmaker. She runs a holistic nature care enterprise accessible on www.grasroutes.com. You can send in your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will answer the more relevant and generic questions of them, which will be carried the following Sunday.
Disclaimer: Everything related to health in this column is for information purposes only. Readers are expected to exercise their own good sense in following any of them, and consult a professional therapist or doctor for conditions that warrant doing so. The author and The Morning Chronicle bear no responsibility for any outcomes from following anything described herein.