I just finished reading an editorial by the conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks. Now I’m totally certain that the mind-body connection has gone completely mainstream. Brooks announced – it made me smile, writing as though he’d just recently stumbled on this important discovery – that the human body’s Vagus Nerve extends from the brain to the digestive system, and is responsible for ‘gut reactions’, ‘gut instincts’, and (gasp!) ‘intuition’. I hope his Twitter followers are kind to him; he really put himself out on a limb with that last word.
Funny, but only a week ago I’d read another piece about this particular nerve, which is actually a vast web or network of nerve endings every bit as sophisticated as those in our brains, by a medical doctor. I’m really liking the fact that it’s now official – what our elders have been telling us for years: “Go with your gut!” Even though they probably didn’t understand the science of it, they knew all about a stomach ‘ in knots’ or filled with ‘butterflies’. Turns out, that’s not just all in our heads. We don’t imagine it. It’s real.
Which makes me wonder about certain realities we all encounter, as we learn to trust our very trustworthy instincts: how can we for sure tell the difference between actual signs, versus simple wishful-thinking? Is it possible to confuse the two? I can totally get carried-away with signs and synchronicities – perhaps reading more into them than I should. But I’ve had some startling experiences and what seem like inexplicable coincidences. I envy those who feel and see these immediately as Godwinks. How could it be otherwise? My rational brain resists ‘magic’ and ‘magical thinking’, even though I’ve felt firsthand how my mind (thoughts) can communicate to my body (feelings)…and then some amazing little thing manifests in real-time.
One small case in point: Last winter there was about a week of solid rain where I live. One afternoon the downpour had eased up, so I grabbed the leashes and herded my three bored, now excited, dogs out of the yard. As they sniffed the special scents rain brings to trees and shrubs, I happened to look up at the sky. I saw the strangest rainbow I’d ever seen. Not an arc at all, it was sort of an oblong shape: rings of color with a dark blue center. I flashed back to a memory: the macramé design that used to be called a “God’s Eye”. I joked aloud to myself, “What, God only has one eye?” My smallest dog had caught her leash on a twig, which I stooped down to untangle. Standing up again, I looked back to the sky for the ‘eye’. Now, unbelievably, there were two of the same, strangely-shaped oblongs. Two eyes. I stopped walking and stood staring – trying to convince myself what I saw just could not be real. A bubble of laughter came then. We walked on.
I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’ll never solve, with total certainty, the mystery of signs, synchronicities and Godwinks (which is what the little oblong rainbows felt like). Maybe a good portion of what I feel, and sometimes see, has a rational source or explanation. On the other hand, I don’t think ‘knowing’ is as important to me as the feeling that I get when I acknowledge and accept these little gifts. Not all that is real can be fully explained and understood. I feel like a ‘crazy person’ as I write those words and yet, I’m somehow totally ok with that.