Community Soup #9 #cong19


Usually when we think about community an image of a group of people comes to mind, but a community can just be a group of living things with commonality. Living things can include the organs and cells in our bodies, so community can be internal as well as external. It may be said that internal communities that are not working in harmony are living in dis- ease. We can all support our internal community which in turn supports the external community, ease on the inside has a ripple effect on the outside. The answer is right under your nose!

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. An insight on community in the body
  2. The impact of the stress response
  3. The internal ripple effect
  4. How we may support our individual community

About Derval Dunford:

Derval Dunford is co-founder of Suí Mindfulness. She is a qualified MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and Yoga Nidra (relaxation) teacher and has also studied Stress Management, Hypnotherapy, Aromatherapy, Counselling Skills. She is co-founder of Mindfulness Matters Ltd, and in this role has trained thousands of Irish primary school teachers and children in mindfulness, relaxation, and well-being.
Derval has been facilitating Mindfulness and Relaxation workshops and courses for many years, has worked with a variety of organisations including regular workshops and courses with the HSE, INTO, and Mayo Education Centre, she speaks regularly at related conferences.
Derval’s interest in mindfulness and yoga nidra was inspired by her life challenges. She suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in early adulthood, chronic fatigue and MCS (multiple Chemical Sensitivity) in her thirties.
Being someone who has a busy mind, is creative, likes to be productive and dislikes wasting time, Derval, not naturally a ‘zen’ type, has come to realise, that the only way she can be her ‘busy’ self, follow her heart and flourish, is to balance the busyness with a smattering of stillness and calm, balancing the ‘doing’ with a little ‘non-doing’. While she is not a fluent Irish speaker Derval created the world’s first Yoga Nidra practice in Irish and bilingually, and co-created the world’s first children’s mindfulness CD in Irish.

Contacting Derval Dunford:

You can contact Derval by email or connect with her on Facebook.

By Derval Dunford

What makes the human body AWEsome is that while each system has its own unique structure, its own unique function, they all communicate and work synergistically to create optimum well-being.

According to breath expert Dan Brule there is something far greater at work within the body that co- ordinates and orchestrates the functioning of the 600 billion cells that make it up.  Dan calls this the body’s innate wisdom, I call it community soup!

We normally think of community as an external thing, a group of people living in harmony.  What if we took this thinking and applied it internally?  It may have the potential to positively change to how our bodies and minds operate, it could actually facilitate a new way of living.

We all know that the main in ingredient in soup is water. With this in mind you would expect that every soup would be more or less the same, and it is …to a degree! It is all liquid, a mixture of ingredients blended or cooked to form what we ‘label’ soup. The ingredients that go into the soup make a difference, the quality of the ingredients makes a difference too. The subtle or pungent herbs or spices added, the amount of seasoning…..there are so many factors that impact the overall flavour, and therefore give us the name of the soup. What we garnish the soup with makes a difference, a little swirl of cream on top or a sprinkling of fresh parsley, mint, toasted seeds or nuts all impact how the soup looks and how the soup tastes.

If we looked at the colour of the soup and judged it on that we would actually have no idea what the soup tasted like, our judgement would be based on past experiences of that colour, past experiences of soup, that guess work may be inaccurate.  If we just ate the garnish and judged the soup on that we would miss out on the essence of the soup, the full flavour, the wholesomeness, the aftertaste, the nourishment, the experience of savouring the soup.

The source of the ingredients has an influence, the quality of the ingredients, the seasoning, the blending or cooking process, the garnish, the bowl the soup is served in and the atmosphere of the space. The soup is not one thing, it is made up of a variety of individual items that come together to create the whole.

Our bodies are basically natural chemical soups, the main ingredient for all of our soups is the same……water. There are staple ingredients that many soups have, then there are individual tweaks, a squirt of this or a dash of that, it all impacts the soup.

Most ingredients are added automatically so we may feel that we have no control over the type of soup we swim in. We may be swimming in anxiety soup, angry soup, happy soup, or gazpacho! The interesting fact is that we can change the ingredients, we can change the seasoning, thus we can change the whole community, we can change the soup that we swim in! We just need find, and be willing to try a new recipe.

In modern life the soup that most people swim in is stress soup. It’s not that it is our favourite soup but it is familiar, we know it, we have had it regularly and sometimes that feels safer than trying something new. Even when uncomfortable there is a comfort in what we know. We know this soup so well that it actually makes itself!

The way the body functions is miraculous really, anything that is perceivedas a threat (it need not be an actual threat) fires up the chemical and hormonal ingredients, the body reacts as if it were being confronted by a sabre-toothed tiger. If this were a real life or death situation the chemical soup would be perfect, it would give us the boost we need to run away or fight. In the modern world however it is more likely to be an e mail that you forgot to send, an unpleasant sentence from a co-worker, a worrying thought…all of these make stress soup too! However the soup is not useful in these situations. This is the inappropriate arousal of the stress response, that fact that we replay what was said or what might happen means that we keep the stress soup flowing through our system maybe all day, all night, all week, for several months or years!  This is what causes ill-health or dis-ease. Why? Because when this soup flowing through your system it causes the pupils to dilate, the heartbeat to increase, the muscles to tense up, it supresses the immune system, it interferes with digestion. Simply put …when the body is dealing with an emergency there is no time for general repairs! Every cell of the body is impacted. The wear and tear is enormous, and this way of being is not sustainable.

Stress soup is instant soup, cuppa soup, it is made on autopilot, the system knows how to do it, it has made stress soup millions of times before, it just repeats what is familiar. Stress soup is only meant to be used sparingly, only when essential. It is a powerful soup. That’s why it was useful in our Ancestors time when they were regularly dealing with life threatening situations , stress soup primed them to fight or take flight.

Stress soup has all the ingredients for action. It’s hot, spicy, it’s fiery! It’s the type of soup that you only need a shot of, a small cup is perfect, thus the name cuppa soup! It is useful for a short sharp burst of energy to deal with an emergency. Then we need to go back to our chilled soup.

Gezpacho is cool, it has very different ingredients, wholesome ingredients, and a very different taste. There is a soft, subtle, soothing flavour, it is lightly seasoned and garnished beautifully. The nourishment that this soup provides seeps into every cell and can last for a long time. Gezpacho provides nutrients to encourage sleep, to repair what is damaged, to lubricate joints, to enhance balance and flow.  The problem is that many of us don’t think we can make gezpacho, we think it is something exotic, that only the chosen few have the secret recipe, so we stick with what we know……cuppa soup, we keep the kettle on the boil, that way it can be made anytime and in just one moment, so for many people a constant supply of stress soup pumps out into the system every single day.

The fast pace of modern day life, the incessant pull on our attention, the infinity of distractions, the constant juggling of too many things, the waves of fear and negativity flowing through the media, the waves of fear and negativity flowing through our minds………all of these make stress soup. We can feel threatened, overwhelmed, behind time, that there is no hope, that we’re on our own, that we are the only ones not coping very well. These thoughts and feelings make soup, they activate the stress response, cuppa soup floods the ancient system, simply because it is programmed that way.

An interesting thing that many people don’t stop to think about is that every emotional state has a corresponding breathing pattern……… and….. the opposite is also true. The way you breathe when you are afraid is very different to the way you breathe when you are relaxed. When you breathe rapidly and shallowly it bubbles up the stress soup. When you breathe gently slowly and deeply it ensures a quality nourishing gezpacho with the prefect consistency, it flows beautifully, evenly and effortlessly. The way you breathe can determine the type of soup you swim in. The relaxation response is evoked, this is aptly called ‘Rest & Digest’.

The one system of the body that is both autonomic and under our control is breathing. This is not an accident, this is an opportunity, an opportunity to make a different type of soup. So what does all of the above tell us about community?

When we use the analogy of soup we can see how one thing impacts another how everything is connected, how we are all in this together!  The lungs for example are individual organs but to be effective they need to operate within a community. Everything in that community is different, no two things are the same, yet each has an important role to play. As the modern world becomes more insular we need to keep in mind that maybe weis better than me. Today is the day to support your local community, 30-40 trillion cells all working together, the miracle that is your body, support it with nourishing home-made gazpacho. Then acknowledge that you are just one ingredient in the larger vat of community soup!

By Derval Dunford


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