Wellness Embodied Blog

According to George Orwell, ‘Happiness can exist only in acceptance.’

This may seem an unusual sentiment from someone who wrote such dystopian books as 1984, but perhaps Orwell had acceptance mastered. Certainly, acceptance is an increasingly important tool in mind and body medicine.


In psychology, acceptance can be defined as our assent to the reality of our situation-whether positive or negative- without attempting to change the circumstances. In yoga, it can be summarized best by Aparigraha, meaning ‘non-attachment’. Aparigraha, one of the yamas from Patangali’s yoga sutras, teaches us that we should neither be attached to positive nor negative experiences, as all are fleeting. Mindfulness makes us more accepting as it trains us to observe sensations, thoughts and actions around us, taking us back to the moment. In Acceptance and Commitment therapy, acceptance and mindfulness strategies are mixed with behavioral changes to create a form of psychological flexibility.


Flexibility in the mind seems to be a key feature in acceptance; so, what of the body? In recent years, more has been written than ever before about storage of trauma in the tissues. Chronic pain is known to be aggravated by psycho-social factors, but even in the absence of severe, long term pain, patterns of tension can build up. The fascia- sheets of collagenous connective tissue covering our muscles and organs- plays a key role in facilitating this long-held tension. Releasing both the body and mind from stress and tension could surely be key to cultivating greater calmness and acceptance.


In recent years, the role of the limbic system in emotional regulation has been widely recognized. Located in the mid- section of the brain, the limbic system consists of many structures which play a key role in memory, behavior, motivation, smell and more. A healthily functioning limbic system leads to better ability to self-regulate emotions and improved overall wellbeing.


So how do we access the limbic system? A nutrient rich diet is important; limit saturated fats, eat lots of Omega 3 fatty acids, fruit and vegetables. So too is emotional connection; take time out with family or friends or expand your social circle. Exercise regularly, deal with stress and try aromatherapy; smells naturally trigger the olfactory centres in the limbic system.


On a physical sense, the limbic system can be accessed by therapies like craniosacral therapy, which aims to rebalance the tissues of the cranium and restore normal cerebrospinal fluid flow throughout the system. As the limbic system sits just underneath the main centres for production and flow of cerebro-spinal fluid, any rebalancing will affect it directly. It is also stimulated by light touch.


Whatever path you choose, it’s important to remember that acceptance doesn’t equate to resignation or apathy. This is true whether you’re dealing with chronic pain, previous trauma or just an unpleasant boss. Instead, acceptance helps us to shift the blame from ourselves or others, reframe a situation and move forwards. If we avoid spending time and energy on what has already happened, the door is open for greater peace and happiness into the future. Your balanced limbic system will thank you for it!


For information on Craniosacral Therapy, a light touch treatment technique which is said to bypass the limbic system and calm the Central Nervous System, see here. 



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