While our minds may be focused on business at hand, like tax preparation or getting through traffic, our bodies are centered on keeping all systems balanced. Each and every day, our bodies adjust to our every need. Most of the time, we are not only unaware of these subtle shifts, but are outwardly frustrated and fearful about them as well, because we do not understand them. As our thoughts begin to turn towards ideas of spring cleaning, this month is a great time to appreciate how our own bodies conduct the business of cleaning and renewal.
Take for example, the common cold. Outwardly, we experience symptoms of achiness, sore throat, and runny nose as a supreme inconvenience. Often, we spend our time with a cold frustrated and feeling sorry for ourselves; cursing the whole endeavor. But if you were to look at the event from inside of the body, you would see an ingenious “idea” at work. The body, in response to a foreign virus, has surmounted an immune response to it. Chemicals are released into the blood from the immune system activation. These are designed for you to feel bad enough to go lay down,causing chills, fatigue, and generalized muscle aching. This gives the immune system more of your energy “reserves” so it can focus on clearing out the offender (when we cooperate, that is.) The more than ample amounts of mucous are also a brilliant plan. The body’s defense against a cold is to “pressure wash” all of our sinuses, using mucous as the pressure wash fluid, in order to flush away viral intruders. Of course these tissues are extremely sensitive, and vast amounts of watery liquid flowing over them causes ear pressure, sore throat and swelling of the sinuses.
After several days, however, most of this fluid is drawn by gravity into the plumbing system of the bronchial airway, the tubes of the respiratory system, which exist just before the lungs. When fluid arrives in this region, it is also irritating to the local tissue, and invites a process that will be necessary to completely purge all of the waste water from the earlier flushing process of the sinuses. This process is the catapult system, known as the cough. It typically will take a few days for the cough to really “get in gear” with productivity, but this phase of the cold represents the “purge” part of the whole process, while the first several days of a cold, represents the flush part. As a whole, this flush/purge system is a “Noah’s Ark” approach to flushing the bad out, while keeping the good.
Next time you have a cold, try and understand that there is a method to the madness, and perhaps, that, alone, can allow us to change our mindset from the “why me” mentality, to a gentle acceptance for a process that is in our best interest.