Restrictions! What restrictions? That was the question that was left unanswered in the last part and hopefully we will address a response in this part.
Thus far we have talked about the nervous system being the first part of the body’s systems to form in the growing embryo and how parts of that system are included with the rest of the developing systems. Let’s talk a little bit more about the nervous system and its various divisions.
Our Nervous system, anatomically, is classified into two areas or branches, the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The CNS is primarily composed of the brain and the spinal cord. The PNS is composed of two subdivisions, the sensory-somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.
All our conscious awareness of the external environment and all our motor activity to cope with it operate through the sensory-somatic division. It responds to voluntary actions.
The ANS is further sub-divided into the Sympathetic and the Para-sympathetic nervous system.
Both of these systems, the sympathetic and the para-sympathetic, run on automatic pilot, in other words, they do not require our conscious input, for them to function.
Stimulation of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system prepares the body for emergencies: for “fight or flight” (and, perhaps, enhances the memory of the event that triggered the response). It prepares the body for some “violent” activity. It reacts in response to our perception to outside stimuli, whether it is real or not. It alters our body’s functions in response to our thoughts, our intentions, our perceptions of the environment and or situation in which we live or happen to find ourselves in. It pretty much can respond to anything that we react to or act on, consciously or unconsciously.
The para-sympathetic nervous system basically maintains the “normal” functioning of our organs which also includes the actions of some muscles as well as all other functions occurring within the body. It returns the body functions to normal after they have been altered by sympathetic stimulation and maintains it in “normal” until the next sympathetic stimulation occurs.
Even though the autonomic nervous system is considered to be involuntary, this is not necessarily the case. A certain amount of conscious and subconscious control can be exerted over it and bring about changes that may not necessarily be to our benefit or well-being. An example of this can be demonstrated by the breathe control and body function alterations of yogis and martial artists. They are able to not only control their heart rate and their breathing but many are able to change their perception of pain, body temperature, their rigidity or flexibility and their ability to absorb very strong impacts to their body without being hurt.
This is one type of control, the conscious/unconscious altering of the body’s mechanisms, which we utilize to place restrictions on ourselves. It revolves around patterns. Patterns that we learn as we are growing up, patterns that we use as coping mechanisms and/or patterns that we accept as truths at one point in our life and that might not necessarily be applicable during another phase of life.
There are others controls that we utilize to restrict ourselves in one form or another, which we’ll delve into as we continue on this journey of discovery.