The second dragon

"Tell me...

At what precise moment...

...does an individual stop being who he thinks he is?

You know, I don't like complications.

Cut off my arm. I say, "Me and my arm."

You cut off my other arm. I say, "Me and my two arms."

You...take out...

...take out my stomach, my kidneys,

assuming that were possible...

And I say, "Me and my intestines."

Follow me?

And now, if you cut off my head...

...would I say, "Me and my head" or "Me and my body"?

What right has my head to call itself me?

What right?"

~The Tenant, Polanski, Brach, Topor 1976

Old challenges rise up. The same complex interactions that allow for habit and breaking habit, the firing of neuronal sequence, can, sometimes, push old connections and patterns to the surface. The game seems stacked against having a body in the first place. What with its two brains. Old habits die especially hard with a greater number of champions, lying in wait.

If you look at an image of the human intestine, particularly the small intestine, it bears a striking similarity with its winding, labyrinthine convolutions to the gyri and sulci of the brain. It comes as no surprise then that this part of the body contains its own, partially separate nervous system. Although it still receives a great deal of enervation from the CNS it contains its own patterns of learning and development, habit. These habits and mostly private impulses direct everything from peristaltic rate (through Basal Electrical Rhythm), to secretion of intestinal and stomach juices. Having a nervous stomach. Even when the brain's bravery waits manifest. Seems like a cruel joke.

Clearing out the brain's, and even the body's, habits of nervousness and tension may not be enough if there are deeply engrained patterns of illness and violence lurking somewhere beneath the abdomen's surface. The gut has a delicate sensitivity, too much of one secretion or too little of another and you get to know the feeling of cool porcelain on cold/hot sweats. If a body habitually vomits due to some pathogen for a long enough period of time, it will continue to vomit long after the destruction or removal of the violator unless some other intervention occurs.

The sneak in your head, you do well for years and years, then the smell of hospitals or roses triggers some long dormant pattern of neuronal chaos and you find yourself back where you began or even worse off than you started. Most of the time, with your brain, its relatively simple to determine what caused the downfall. Who uses the gut as the primary center of consciousness?

What factors contribute to the firing of old habit in the gut? The factors from the CNS can be mitigated consciously and easily enough, but what internal factors contribute? Textures? Chemicals? Without concise consciousness in this vital center this may never be known. While some say "open this chakral center" that phrase has no real meaning. Directing awareness in this place seems a simple solution for experiment. Awareness will accrete where the breath directs, does a sentient sensation follow or does the mind, as usual, play tricks?

The vagus nerve, so called due to its wandering, like a vagabond, down from the brain to the heart and to the gut. Due to its location and structure it contributes signals to heart rate and the perstaltic, digestive, movements of the gut, all this from the brain. The vagus nerve passes through the diaphragm, the primary muscle of respiration. Ideally, and with training, breathing occurs almost solely through this mighty pump. As this muscle rises and expands laterally, sensory portions of the vagus nerve receive stimulation. When this stimulation reaches threshold, the nerve sends information about respiration rate to the brain. Slow and deep, and the brain begins to turn on the parasympathetic circuits eventually triggering a rest and relax response, slowing heart rate (remember the vagus nerve enervates the heart?) and easing peristalsis.

While this may not cure a closed system gut freak out, remember that in this battle, you have powerful allies within your own body.

Counting from the first, this post IS post #39. How appropriate.