Immunology, Samsara & Mindfulness

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I find it fascinating, seeing the interaction between mind and body – sana and soma; changes, upsets in the body causing emotional or psychological effects or perhaps, more opaquely, psychology causing changes in the body.

A simple example might be in an individual who is allergic to, say, shellfish. They know they are allergic, as the last time they tried to eat a prawn, squid or a cockle, their lips tingled, their chest became tight and they wheezed until they were able to obtain some Piriton. They might even have been to the local immunology lab and had patch testing – where minute particles of allergen are injected, (the component of the nut shell, cat dander or wasp sting) causing the flare and wheal response that suggests their immune system, their immunoglobulins and cell mediators are primed and ready.

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What happen when, that person, eating, say a Cheesy Puff starts to feel their throat itching or their nose becoming congested? What happens if they start to believe that somehow, somewhere in the processing of the Cheesy Puff, prawns were involved, either, say as a contaminant or a part of the recipe?

Their wheeze becomes worse, they might start to feel light-headed, anxious, their heart rate rising, they start thinking, ‘SHELLFISH’

As to how far their response goes, is dependent on lots of variables, do they sit quietly and observe – to see what will happen; that would be, approaching the event Mindfully, calmly, or do they tell someone else who might call an ambulance?

Each response will in itself have an effect on the person’s immune system, which is an inherent component of our physiology and connected immutably to our psychology.

It could be that the Puff did indeed have some components of shellfish – a scraping of some Umami residue perhaps and the person is heading rapidly into anaphylaxis – collapsing blood pressure, respiratory or cardiac arrest; or, it could be that there is not even a nanoparticle of prawn or shrimp in the Puff;

With the latter, the response, the outcome will depend very much on how the initial reaction is managed – ambulance or meditation;

It is however very difficult, probably at times impossible to determine what is what – psychology or physiology.

And this, I think, is Samsara – the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, or perhaps, eternal suffering – depicted as a dog swallowing a chicken swallowing a snake; an endless cycle.

As to how we pause and take a moment to establish where we are, where we are heading is not clear, although, in my experience, remaining calm and even adopting a Mindful approach can be beneficial whether there is anaphylaxis or not; indeed, most disasters, traumas or upsets are likely best managed from a Mindful perspective – calmly reviewing what is happening, slowing-down and ensuring that nothing is missed moment by moment.

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disclaimer – if you believe you are experiencing anaphylactic shock, please call an ambulance immediately

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