We often think of experiences like falling in love, grieving a death, or standing in awe of a beautiful natural landscape as phenomena of the emotions, of the heart or of the soul. But as the saying goes, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, which means that transcendant and meaningful feelings such as these each have a precise biological component, as well. When we feel pleasure, our brain is producing molecules that cause us to feel pleasure; when we feel humble, our body is making chemicals that trigger this feeling. And just like any chemical reaction that takes place in our body, all of these molecules have a measurable impact on our metabolism. In this fascinating new podcast episode, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, takes a look at the ways our experiences of the sacred can literally change our metabolism, and how we can tap into this often-overlooked source of metabolic power to transform our lives for good.
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Sometimes, when we talk about health and nutrition, it’s good to bypass the intellect and communicate from a place of the sacred. Today I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Marc David’s book, The Slow Down Diet, which offers a new and potentially healing way to look at metabolism – one that honors the sacred by exploring its metabolic potential.
Have you ever had a religious, divine, or extraordinary experience that affected you deeply? One that left you feeling renewed, reborn, transformed in body or spirit? One that couldn’t be explained, yet you know it happened? If so, then you surely experienced the metabolic power of the sacred.
Because each of us is a radiant soul moving through life’s journey in a biological spacesuit, every soul experience is registered within as a metabolic event. We experience the world because chemistry helps make it so. Our feelings of love, for example, owe their existence to a specific chemistry generated in the body that is unique and specific to love. The same is true for feelings of hope, loyalty, silliness, cynicism, and any imaginable personality state. Who we are and what we feel moment to moment has a precise biochemical equivalent.
Sacred metabolism is the chemistry ignited in the body when we are infused by the Divine.
Because the Divine is the source of power behind all powers, the chemistry created when we experience the Divine supersedes all known laws of the body.
Sacred chemistry is a meta-chemistry.
Its effects can include or incorporate familiar psycho-physiologic states such as the relaxation response, brain-hemispheric synchronization, pleasure chemistry, immune-system mobilization, and others. But certainly its boundaries far surpass what science can explain. When we enter the realm of sacred metabolism, then, we are on new scientific ground. The most reliable tools we have to proceed with are observation, experience, and the light of the truth.
Some of the ways that sacred metabolism may be revealed in the body include prayer, fasting, meditation, experiences in nature, sports, yoga, music, dance, art, sleeplessness, illness, recovery, near-death experiences, intimacy, war, grief, falling in love, and religious rituals of every variety.
When the metabolic power of the sacred is activated, a portal is opened to a fantastic assortment of biological empowerments. An abundance of well-documented cases have highlighted abilities such as clairvoyance, telekinesis, spontaneous healing, and incredible strength, to name just a few. But what we often label as anomalous or miraculous are simply latent biological traits activated once we are touched by the hands of the Divine.
Could it be that the advances in well-being that medical science has promised for decades, but still longs to deliver, will come not from anything outside of us – experts and technology – but from our co-evolutionary relationship with the Divine? Is it possible that the fulfillment of your metabolic destiny is to be found inside you?
The sacred has its own terms of engagement that are available to all of us right now: love, truth, courage, commitment, compassion, forgiveness, faith and surrender.
These eight sacred metabolizers – and no doubt there are more – are sacred because such soul qualities bring us closer to the heart of the Divine. By embodying them we become more like the source from whence we came, more of who we are meant to be. And I’m suggesting that when activated in our system, the eight sacred metabolizers can produce profound healings and powers, metabolic breakthroughs, and rejuvenating effects on body and spirit.
These eight metabolizers have been classically viewed as qualities or traits, not material quantities. And yet I would say that every sacred metabolizer is both a force and a substance. E = MC2. Energy and matter are interchangeable. Somewhere in the body, love molecules squirt about when feelings of love are activated. Similarly, when feeling courage, the body will create the chemical equivalent of that trait in order for you to experience it. That’s the nature of reality as it is lived in the biology of a body. Every feeling has a molecular correlate.
Right now, think of someone in your life who pushes your buttons or stresses you out. If you focus on that person’s faults, you’ll quickly cause stress chemicals to be delivered throughout your body. When you say “Let there be anger,” the body instantly builds a universe of anger within. When we say “Let there be kindness,” kindness chemistry is fashioned in a like manner. We are that powerful.
The more we call these sacred metabolizers forth through our personal efforts, the more the molecules literally accumulate in our system.
Consider that this concept is no different than Prozac. You take a bunch of pills that were produced in an outside chemical factory (as opposed to your internal one), and the critical molecules need to build in your system for weeks until they lift your spirits, so to speak.
Likewise, the more you exercise faith, the more faith molecules accumulate in your bloodstream. The metabolic substance of faith activates core organ systems such as the heart and brain and exerts its effects throughout the body – effects as simple as invigorating and healing, or as profound as releasing the Mother Teresa or the Martin Luther King Jr. within.
The eight sacred metabolizers are as essential to the body as food and water, and are literally required in chemical form. If you’re alive and breathing, the divine realms are calling upon you to produce the chemistry that would elevate you to your highest metabolic potential via the soul lessons that will forge your greatest spiritual strength.
So if you think your nutritional concerns can be rightfully addressed with food alone, think again. When the real-life requirements of the eight sacred metabolizers are not met, the body withers and weakens, loses integrity, and invites disease upon itself, calling forth whatever symptoms are necessary to alert us to the soul lesson that is hungering for nourishment and attention. We can no longer look exclusively in the biological realm to solve health problems that are but downstream effects of the tides of the soul. It’s high time that we invite the sacred to inform our practices of healing, eating, and loving.
I hope this has inspired you to imagine some new possibilities about how the biology of the body might be a powerful mirror of the soul.
I hope this was helpful.