Written by John Immel,
How Do You Experience Your Body?Every nerve, bone, and muscle has a name. Cut open a cadaver and you'll find the universe of Western anatomy, the pieces and parts all meticulously identified by modern medical science. This advanced systematic description of the human body is unparalleled in history. Yet despite the sophistication of Western anatomy, this map of the corpse fails to explain simple phenomena familiar to us all:
The ability to feel is essential for those who wish to take care of themselves. Articulating the effects of food on your body is a core skill that must be developed in order to cultivate a relationship with food. Mastering this skill comes from accurate assessment of your bodily experiences moments and hours after a meal. These experiences are often felt, not seen. Western anatomy fails to provide a model for describing these essential experiences.
An anatomical map of your experiences is real but personal. Since your experiences are personal, your anatomy is unique. When I was an Ayurvedic student I spent three months meditating, cubic centimeter by cubic centimeter, how my brain felt. This type of body scan is a kind of experiential MRI. The map of our bodily experiences correlates to the Western structural map, but has an entirely different purpose.
The map of your experiences creates an opportunity for you to become more empathetic to your body's trials and suffering. The will of nature is just as powerful as the will of the mind. A healthy body demands compromise and compassion from the mind. For that reason, we'll call this type of anatomy 'empathetic.' Empathetic anatomy refers to the science and study of how humans experience their body. Empathetic anatomy draws its roots from Ayurveda.
Chakras and Body AwarenessIf you've studied yoga and know about the chakras, you probably already know a bit about Ayurvedic anatomy. A chakra is simply a place where we can feel our body easily. Chakras are the places where we have the most consciousness.
Most people agree that the seven chakras are the easiest places to experience our bodies. They're also a starting place to build body awareness. The size of a chakra measures the "density of awareness" at a point in our body. For example, if you hold up your hand you can feel that you have more awareness in the center of your hand than at the edge. If you cut the edge of your hand, as long as it hurts you'd have a big chakra at the site of the wound. Slowly, as the wound heals, the size of the chakra would diminish.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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