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Health and healing
Did you know that upsets, anxiety, stress and strain, depression, despair, all directly affect health? Recent findings in science have shown that the nervous system directly links with the immune system,and that out of thoughts and emotions, it's emotions that link most strongly.
Here are some study results quoted in the book 'Emotional Intelligence' by Daniel Goleman:
- Married couples who kept a record each day of stressful and upsetting events such as marital arguments showe that three to four days after an intense series of upsets they developed a cold or upper-respiratory infection.
- Out of 100 patients who received bone marrow transplants, 12 of the 13 who had been depressed died within the first year of the transplant, while 34 of the remaining 87 were still alive two years later.
- In patients with chronic kidney failure who were receiving dialysis, those who had major depression were most likely to die within the following two years and depression was a stronger predictor of death any any other medical sign.
- Of nearly 3000 middle aged people tracked over 12 years those who felt nagging despair and hopelessness had a heightened rate of death from heart disease.
- In a study of several thousand elderly women who had hip fractures those who were depressed on entering hospital stayed an average of 8 days longer than those with a comparable injury but no depression. Also, they were only a third as likely to ever walk again.
According to a neuroscience, the immune system is the 'body's brain', defining the body's sense of self - what belongs within it and what belongs outside it. This is a Virgo theme - using boundaries to discern, sieve, sift, sort and filter - and indeed in astrology Virgo is associated with health and healing.
Virgo is ruled by Mercury, and the symbol for Mercury is that of the snakes twined around a central column, used in conventional medicine to signify healing. Virgo's symbol is like a letter 'm' with a figure 8 on the final leg of the 'm', and that infinity 8 again signifies the serpents.
In Tibetan energy medicine the body has figure 8 energy flows on macro and micro levels, from the level of the whole body right down to the celular level. When energy flows in these figure 8 patterns the body experiences integrity and wholeness. This means that no matter what outside influences interact with the body, the body is able to discern its own pattern and maintain it.
Built into astrology is the idea that the physical and the non-physical are intimately connected. This idea runs throughout all astrology, but is particularly enshrined in the sign Virgo. This perspective of health reflects the ideal of 'a healthy mind in a healthy body'. Astrology has for millennia connected the body with the signs of the zodiac, and so we can understand physical illness and symptoms using this map.
Aries is associated with the head, and those who are familiar with the Alexander Technique will know that the head is meant to lead the whole body forwards and upwards. Aries is associated with leadership and being headstrong. Problems with the head, such as tension headaches, can mean that a person is trying to deal with issues around doing, attempting to force their way forwards and impose their will on a tough situation. The struggle with adversity can manifest here.
Taurus is associated with the neck and throat, and problems here can represent inflexibility and stubbornness. This is also where the sensual torso either connects with the head or is cut off from it. As with the head, the will and how it is used or blocked can manifest in problems here. If a person tries to have their own way by controlling things around them, the neck and head can become tense and unyielding.
Gemini is associated with the arms and hands, which bring us into contact with other people and enable us to manipulate the world around us. We often 'talk with our hands' using gestures, and it's through Gemini that the self is expressed, articulated. What many people don't know is that the bones of the arms actually include the collar bones which means that Gemini starts at the throat, which of course is the area of communication. In keeping with the psychological theme of Gemini represented by the twins, these body areas are a two-way flow, channelling feelings, thoughts and energies from inside the self out to the people and world around us, as well as receiving the same back.
Cancer is associated with the breasts and also the stomach and solar plexus areas. The breasts express the nurturing and care-taking aspects of the psyche, the capacity to feed and support life. The stomach is also about being fed and taking in that which is nurturing versus taking in things that we just can't 'stomach'. How we feel within ourselves, and how we 'feel into' the environment can upset our stomach and be expressed as indigestion and abdominal migraine (especially in children).
Leo is associated with the heart area and the solar plexus, along with Cancer. The heart expresses Leo's love of life, and the living rhythm that vitalises the body. Feeling loved and special is important to Leo. The heart beat responds very rapidly to feelings and to joy, and lies at the centre of ourselves, just as we must have a joyous sense of purpose at the centre of our lives. Feelings of unworthiness and lack of self-esteem can be involved in problems here. The light of the self must be brought into the solar plexus and radiated out, lending its strength and vitality to the Cancerian area.
Virgo is associated with the abdomen area and the small intestine. The small intestine sorts the wheat from the chaff, as it were. What is nourishing to the psyche and the soma is then assimilated, and what doesn't serve the self is passed to the large intestine (Scorpio) to be let go of. Virgo then stands for discernment and processing. Problems here can be about separating the pure from the impure, or about over-analysing life using the head rather than moving into energy and the body to assimilate and cleanse.
Libra is associated with the lumbar region of the back and the kidneys. These areas express our relationship and sexual issues, which in themselves are about our capacity to balance the self with the not-self. If we have problems with the people in our lives, or with acknowledging our projections and assimilating them, they can manifest here. This area is about maintaining the balance in our life.
Scorpio is associated with the sexual organs and the lower area of the back (along with Libra). These areas of the body are about our sexuality: potency and surrender. The large intestine is also related to Scorpio, and represents the unconscious energies, particularly primordial fear about survival and death. Not clearing deep emotional residues that sap vitality can result in problems in this area, as can grief.
Sagittarius is associated with the hips and thighs, and the legs in general. The thighs are the engines that move us forwards in life, and if we lose hope or faith in the future or lose our sense of direction it may be reflected in problems in this area. The overall meaning of our life must allow us movement and progression.
Capricorn is associated with the skeletal system, the skin, and the knees. The bone structure of the body is the core of our physical self, the most condensed and crystallised parts of ourself, and so represents our commitment to physical existence and feeling supported in that existence. The skin is our boundary and outer limit, and again represents our capacity to feel comfortable 'in our own skin', i.e. with being here. The knees represent karmic bonds, guilt, and debts - Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which is sometimes referred to as 'the lord of karma'.
Aquarius is associated with the circulatory system, the calves and the ankles. The calves contain a pump that brings the blood down into the legs and feet, and calf exercises work this pump. This grounds us and stops us flying into our heads, disconnecting from the body - a major Aquarian theme. The ankles represent flexibility and the capacity to adapt to change and try new perspectives and experiences.
Pisces is associated with the waters of the body, and the feet. The feet allow us to let go of energies that no longer serve us, having a cleansing and purifying effect. Confusion about where we stand and where we are going can be reflected in the feet. Reflexology shows us that the whole body is reflected in the feet, and that any crystallisation here is a holographic mapping of the health of the body. The fluids of the body carry the emotions, and clearing the waters helps us feel better.
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