Monday, 26 January 2015

Subtle bile

I spent two-thirds of 2014 de-toxing my liver. This process will, I think, never be ended – because the liver filters toxins from the blood, and even with good diet and a disciplined life, the inflow of toxins from environmental pollution and psychological stress can never be absent from a person’s life.

In this cleansing journey, most of all I was impressed and surprised by the indivisible conjoining of body and mind. With the detoxification came such profound peace. When I asked myself if it was my body or soul that felt at peace, I couldn’t tell. It reminded me of babyhood – the peace of an infant resting. How do I remember that? Not by recall in the normal sense, but my body recognized and identified it, somehow.

This detoxification may have created peace, but it also rocked the boat. It made me aware of what my body/mind/soul needed for well-being; it made clear to me what situations and relationships didn’t do me good.

I began to understand the physical effect on my being of psychological input – that there were some people and situations from which I had to be healed after encounter. Not that they were of themselves toxic – but they were not doing me good. Nuts are not bad, they’re tasty and delicious and an excellent food: but if you have a nut allergy they’ll kill you. So for me with some environments, some relationships. As I repeated again and again the de-toxing, getting used to the peace and restfulness of clearing, I began to notice what stimuli and inputs didn’t sit well with me.

In de-toxing the liver, the gall bladder plays an important part. Back in the days of Shakespeare (and before that, with Hippocrates, and later, in the anthroposophical system of Rudolf Steiner), people’s temperaments were said to be governed by four humours. I won’t go into detail, or you’ll be reading this forever, but you can look up about it here or here, if you’re interested.

A problem that has beset me since childhood – despite being a compliant child and in general a quiet person – is rage. Upwelling. So it intrigued me to read that in Hippocrates’ system of humours, rage associated with yellow bile – from the gall bladder. There was also a black bile from the spleen, but that tended towards melancholy (indeed “melancholy” means “black bile”).

But yellow bile was known as choler, and its excess encourages a choleric temperament; irritable, volatile, inclined to anger. That’s me. I find it hard to own this, because I know I am a quiet, peaceable person; and how can you be both? I don’t like it because I depart from my true self in entering a choleric state. But the humours (as they were understood in that ancient system of medicine) are meant to be in balance. It’s when they are out of kilter that disharmony is created, and rage or melancholy (or whichever humour comes to the fore) predominates.

Bile is bitter. Remember the Christmas carol – “The holly bears a berry as bitter as any gall”? Rage is bitter. Fury. It burns.

I thought about the composition of the human being. It’s not like Russian nesting dolls, one inside the other – the mind inside the body, the soul inside the mind, the spirit inside the soul. Rather, the different aspects, what are called the “subtle” aspects, which is to say the intangible, non-physical aspects, all occupy the same space simultaneously. Indeed, if anything, the body is smaller than the “subtle bodies”; its boundaries do not extend so far. That’s why you can feel a person’s vibe as they approach, or (in some cases) see their aura. The subtle bodies are like light shining. Soul-light.

And I wondered, can you have subtle bile? Is this what the letter to the Hebrews described as the “root of bitterness”?

In the KJV it’s put like this (Hebrews 12.15): “…looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up to trouble you, and thereby many be defiled

It’s seen there as a person within a community. But perhaps it can be a phenomenon within an individual? Bitterness, gall, upwelling in imbalance, like a spreading stain – rage gradually seeping through; toxic, overwhelming.

I’m not quite sure how you de-tox the subtle body. I know what is recommended in the religions – in some cases meditation, fasting; in others confession, eucharist; bringing to the foot of the cross one’s burdens, troubles and sins. I take note, but I’ve also seen plenty of bitter, furious souls who were steeped in religion, saturated with it.

So I think there are two things that apply to the soothing and rebalancing to keep subtle bile in its right proportion. One is de-toxing the body – because the physical body and the subtle bodies are linked, and I have found for myself that deep peace arises from physical detoxification. The second is giving permission to transformation. Remember how the letter to the Romans (12:2 KJV) says: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”?

That suggests it is possible for something new and healthy to grow through. Like a snake emerging from a shed skin. Like the liver which renews itself every 300-500 days. It suggests that a person doesn’t have to stay fixed, stuck, in the patterns of toxic rage and resentment that build up poison in the body until one becomes quite ill. It’s possible to shed, it, to de-tox, to emerge – transformed and renewed.

A puzzle for me arises from certain relationships and circumstances which, for good reason, I cannot excise, but which tend towards re-toxing not de-toxing. My hope is that my spirit can become so strengthened that I can, as it were, turn the flow – become the influencer instead of the influenced. That I can cease to be malleable (“conformed to this world”) and instead grow into the I Am of God, by a steady process both physical and spiritual, of de-toxification, transforming and renewing.

I’m working on it.


Gerry Snape said...

Pen...thankyou for this post. It gives me a lot to think about. My ex brother in law...tai chi master asked me to read the I Ching many years ago and I saw how the Chinese tradition was similar to the Humours you write maternal grandfather was a believer in the humours....A lot to think about here!

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes - good point! I can see the connections with the Taoist systems of understanding! xx

gail said...

Hello Pen, I'm going to have to think more about this as its quite new to me. However I'm sort of understanding how this could be. For some reason the expression "letting someone get under your skin" comes to mind. I'm dealing with anxiety at the moment which is natural they tell me for someone who is caring for an elderly parent. This is definitely affecting my body as well as my soul. I will be interested to hear how you are working through this.
Blessings Gail.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Gail - I recommend the work of Dr Eric Berg - he has a lot of YouTube videos as well as having written an excellent book. His book is called The 7 Principles of Fat-Burning - but even if you are not at all fat what he says is helpful and interesting. For myself, and from what you say this applies to you too, I have found his observations about the role of the adrenal glands very helpful indeed.
With reference to the functioning of the adrenals, my own trial-and-error experience has been that stimulants (tea, coffee etc) and sugar make anxiety worse and exacerbate the peaks and troughs associated with terror/dread/worry/despair. I am a lot more rational since I cut out all added sugar!


LANA said...

As always Pen you have given me much to ponder. I agree that physically detoxing would no doubt help our reactions, moods, and response to stress. When you mentioned being a quiet person who experiences much rage, it was like you were talking about me. I have a family situation with someone who is a "thorn in my side" that will not be changing for a long time, so I will have to change my reaction instead. I like Dr. Berg, I just have to apply the knowledge.

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes. There are some relationships we cannot, in good conscience, leave.

About Dr Berg and applying the knowledge - I would not have believed, if you'd told me before I began this health journey, the extent of the difference made by giving up sugar. I've given up grains as well, so that has to be factored in, but I think the sugar is the main one. I think I have been taking refuge in sugar and flour for the longest time - to keep me going and cheer me up - but it has a personality of its own. Without it, I know who I am and what is right for me in a way I didn't before. Odd and surprising. I can recommend it, though.

LANA said...

I have heard so many people say what a difference they feel when they stop the sugar consumption. I am encouraged by all this and although it will be VERY difficult for me, I want to give it a try. I will let you know how it goes. The clarity of mind is so worth it.

Pen Wilcock said...

I've found Gary Taubes book "Why we get fat and what to do about it" really helpful - accessible, easy to read, explains how it all works. Good luck! x

Julie B. said...

Such a fascinating post! I took a class years ago in my church, based on the four different temperaments. The LaHayes and Florence Littauer wrote books decades ago with a lot of (some very helpful) information about the Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholy personalities/temperaments. They didn't focus a lot on the possible physiological reasons for human tendencies, just the personality attributes of each one. Apparently everyone is a blend, and according to the test, I am a fairly even split between Melancholy and Choleric. The teacher had historical examples of personality blends and when I asked if there was a famous Mel/Chlor (as they termed it), she responded, "Yes, Adolf Hitler." The class giggled but when she saw the look on my face she quickly added, "And Margaret Thatcher!" And even though you're not a Thatcher fan, I must say I felt a little better being like her rather than the other guy. :O

Lastly, I thought it was interesting and a little disturbing to learn the link between melancholy and the spleen. I had an immune system disease years ago that has been "in remission" for a long time, and part of that difficult period in my life involved a spleen so enlarged I could feel it roll like an engorged water balloon against my diaphragm when I would lay down to go to sleep.

Okay, too much information. Hahaha.

And the sugar thing? Oh, that would be Everest for me. :(


Pen Wilcock said...

Ah - by no means too much information - really interesting!
How did your spleen get better?
I know Margaret Thatcher is something of a byword among British people, but I have always admired her; I think she is much maligned. Of course she didn't get everything wrong, who could? But I see life much as she did. See this post from a couple of years back:


Julie B. said...

I'm sorry I thought it was you who had reservations about Mrs. Thatcher! I had read your post of course, but had a vague memory of someone not caring for her on your blog and wrongly remembered it to be you. I think it was Buzzfloyd? My memory is a bit sieve-like lately....gah!

And the immune system disease I had/have? It's known to either go into remission in 18 months or become systemic and deadly, and thankfully mine was the former. Everything eased and went back to normal in a little over a year, including my spleen. (I do know these things always have other causes and issues underlying, though. I'll think about that someday...) xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh my goodness - I'm so glad you got better xx