By Kris James
Let me begin by saying I knew that the gut microbiome was an incredibly hot area of research these days, but beyond that, I was pretty much ignorant. Thankfully, Alanna Collen, author of 10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness, does a stellar job of presenting this complex topic to the layperson that makes the subject both riveting and at times mind-blowing.
The book title is intriguing, and explained thus: “You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine impostor cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. You are more 'them' than you are 'you' Your gut alone hosts 100 trillion of them. Over your lifetime, you will play host to bugs the equivalent weight of five African elephants.”
By Paddy Kamen, publisher, BetterBrainBetterLife.com
My gut is in an uproar. It happens almost everytime I eat. A years-long project of trying to stop burping, farting and bloating escalated last December when my digestive system underwent a state of siege. For two weeks, everything I ate caused terrible pain throughout my abdomen, to the point where bending down to pick up the laundry basket caused me to moan.
Is this simply a physical problem? I doubt it.
When I say, ‘my stomach is in a knot’, it usually means I am dealing with strong, difficult emotions, experienced as tension in the abdomen. After 15 years of consistent meditation practice and many silent retreats, I can now detect even subtle emotions as body sensation: fear has been a companion, and anxiety, its offspring (which I define as amorphous fear), has been hitching a ride every day and night since the beginning of February. It is now mid-June.
The anxiety began last January when my father, at 89 and in terrible health, began to seriously decline, and then died on March 3. This is tough stuff, but of course, expected. To complicate things, dad’s wife (I'll call her Sue) has made our family life challenging for some time now. She has a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, on top of an undiagnosed mood disorder and paranoia, so handling her finances as her POA after my father died was an ordeal I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Sue calls me up regularly to accuse me of stealing from her (her latest accusation was that I had stolen vacuum cleaner parts), and throwing her medication in the garbage. Every time she calls it triggers that terrible anxiety in my gut. It can take hours for the sensation to settle down.
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