I guess I’ll walk through this backwards. I woke up this morning and decided I should try not tracking my food, but eating healthy instead.
I decided this because I had a dream where I was a teen actress, who had an odd experience where I was filming a love scene with an older man, whose wife came onto the set to supervise things, and people were prodding and positioning me like a poseable figurine. It was like my body was the only part of me they saw.
This week in my professional development for nurses class we had an article about self awareness and the Johari window. The Johari window proposes that we have 4 classes of traits: the seen & known, the unseen and unknown, the unseen and known, and the seen and unknown. This last one is perhaps the most troubling for me. It means there are things people see in me that I don’t see in myself, like when I was little and didn’t know I was Asian. Or like for the last 2 years I have still felt heavy even though I am a normal weight, still surprised every time I look in a mirror.
And this morning it occurred to me maybe this feeling is connected to the motivation necessary to keep limiting my eating. I’m willing to try it. I will probably still use tracking in situations like road trips, which I have coming up this weekend. But I’ve long believed that if I ate the best quality food, I could eat intuitively. I just haven’t been willing to do that.
Further back this week I was thinking about the neurocognitive domains (judgment, memory, language, sensory, emotion & attention). It occured to me that as much as sensory goes with our voluntary nervous system, emotion ties in with the involuntary nervous system. Emotions are very real in the effect they have on our heart rate, hunger, and ability to relax.
As I’ve pointed out in the past, our default state (at least in our heart muscle) is to be stressed, and the parasympathetic system must be activated for us to rest. I guess what I was thinking about is how many sensory processes go through the cranial nerves, but the vagus nerve is a cranial nerve as well, which innervates the organs and is critical to parasympathetic system. The interesting thing is we aren’t typically aware of sensation from our organs, and I think it is because the information would be overwhelming, so it is coded to emotion. It is like the portion of the body we are aware of is like sound coding, and the part we are not aware of is like visual coding, using exponentially more bandwidth.
We think we move our muscles voluntarily, but how much would you really need to know if you were controlling your muscles? You merely intend for you muscles to do a thing, but the action itself is automatic. This is happening throughout the organs, which are muscled and innervated to a degree most don’t suspect, but without an reliance on intent to trigger action.
Back to my picture: Canopic jars housed the organs of the ancient Egyptians. I looked for images about everything the vagus nerve touches, but most of them seemed likely to have been lifted from textbooks. But thinking about organs reminded me of the canopic jars. Now that they’re staring back at me, I find they tell a strange reflection on four panes of the Johari window. If you want to know who sees you as you don’t see yourself, ask an anatomy student.