Sending Gratitude to Our Organs, Systems and Cells!
Arnold Shapiro, M.D.
Sept – Oct 2023 • Vol 4, No 6
In a prior issue, I introduced the notion of three “Gratitude Dimensions.” They are: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal. Today I will elaborate on Intrapersonal Gratitude, which involves internal gratitude for our biology—our organs, systems and cells.
We have a remarkable genetic endowment. There are countless superlatives that could be applied to the body we inherited, and inhabit for our lifetime. We are fully equipped, biologically. A healthy human body, along with its mental capacities, is the ultimate gift of Nature.
Where would we be without DNA? DNA is responsible for the assembly, coordination, and maintenance of our cell population, which numbers about 37 trillion, at the best estimate! Our cells even recycle themselves!
It can be further noted that DNA is responsible for all Life, and that we humans are a relatively recent branch on the Tree of Life. The roots of the Tree of Life are the earliest Microorganisms, dating back to 3 or 4 billion years ago, in the harsh conditions of early Earth. DNA and Life advanced, step-wise, over the eons. The sheer number of complex, accurate, biologic functions of our organs, systems, and cells is enormous. The coordination within our body is astounding, with each part serving the needs of the whole.
A word describing the relatively stable equilibrium within our bodies is “homeostasis.” Examples of homeostasis include the narrow ranges that are maintained, day-long and year-round, in our body temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and blood glucose level. There are about 40 types of homeostasis in all.
Our brains have a crucial role in homeostasis. There are numerous brain centers that monitor our blood levels, and make regulating changes, via nerves and chemical messengers, including hormones. Our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), with its Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branches, is self-regulating according to our internal needs. The Stress Response and Relaxation Response are both regulated by the ANS.
Thankfully, all twelve of our bodily systems operate autonomously. One, however, is amenable to our volitional control: our respiratory system. We are able to set a pattern to our breaths. As mentioned in a prior article, Yogic breathing (deep, slow, smooth and rhythmic), induces the Relaxation Response, and counters the Stress Response. Furthermore, we can have gratitude for any series of breaths. Gratitude, well-focused, can evoke peace and joy and is pro-wellness.
Intrapersonal gratitude can be generated in various ways, including thanking our oncoming breaths in a series of any length. Any aspect of our body can be thanked. As an added element, we could rub over the body parts that we thank. Even a minute or two of gratitude: morning, evening, or within any break in our day is worthwhile and can be a joy.
Dr. Shapiro is a career clinic physician who has utilized relaxation techniques with many of his patients. His YouTube channel is: “Arnie Shapiro, MD • Breathing Easy.” Contact Dr. Shapiro by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.