We all understand our mental portents, such as thoughts, feelings and sensory experiences. This also includes our digestive processes, aside from non-mental constructs, viz, life-giving blood flowing through the arteries. This leads us to the big question — whether we are adept at separating our mental phenomena from non-mental, or simple, also profound, physical occurrences in their myriad forms? Or, elements that relate to specific mental or emotional aspects, including their association with each other, besides non-mental essentialities.

This again takes us to the palpable — whether pain is strictly a sensory occurrence, or it also has a mental connect, thanks to a host of physical and other responses that it entails. There is no pain that we do not know, or is outside of our perimeter of thought, feeling, or corporeal umbrella. You may think of our emotions too in like manner — whether they mirror contexts, like angst, fear, or envy, or the emotive aspects of our “sensed,” or “felt,” qualities, including physical notations in response to a certain threat, or stressful situation. Now, pops yet another question: whether such responses envelop certain cognitive components like conviction, if not belief? While it is agreed that conviction is the sanctified pedestal of belief, this does not, in any way, suggest that beliefs, or thoughts, are always a prerequisite to vocal expression, or measure of speech.

The relationship between our mind and body, or mental and physical phenomena, has been a part of philosophical exploration — now medical and other sciences — for ages. It is called the mind-body construct, or mind-body problem, depending on the relevant school of thought you belong to, or espouse. All the same, and more so, in our present dispensation, it is time we moved to a level that is neither beneath nor above such philosophical equations. This is not something that is as easy as it sounds. It is complex, primarily because anything that relates to our mind is different from the physical realm, albeit the duo seems to be closely allied to each other.

When you think of conscious experiences — such as the delightful fragrance of jasmine, the feeling of pathos after being given a dressing down by your boss, or getting your finger cut while chopping onions — you don’t speak in terms of mindful awareness, receptivity, molecules of emotions, or physical changes that emerge therefrom. This includes the neurons in our brain — and, other complex biological structures related to our physiology, or the functional mosaic of our being. Yet, the fact of the matter is simple — there is no need for one to be a physician, or therapist, to understand the fundamental core that exists between our mental and physical reality to comprehend things even when they appear as puzzling and mysterious from the point-of-view of materiality. This is what makes us human — one who is endowed with a higher level of intelligence, or perceptive attribute, in a manner born through nature’s natural decree.

This brings us to the new, fascinating science of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) — that everything is psychosomatic. It was the legendary neuroscientist Candace Pert’s pioneering foundational research that helped to create the groundwork for this momentous interdisciplinary branch of science that unites the three characteristically segregated sciences of neuroscience, immunology and endocrinology and their associated structures and glands into a multidimensional communication network linked by information-transporting molecules called (neuro)peptides. Today, a simpler and more popular name for PNI is “mind-body medicine.” It refers to our whole system as a psychosomatic information network, linking the “psyche,” such as the mind, emotion and soul, to the “soma,” which is the material world of cells, tissues and organs. 

(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)

Rajgopal Nidamboor