Dynamic Physiology : Our 3-Fold Nature

In a previous blog, I described how we use the Anthroposophical understanding of our physiology in terms of our four bodies. There is another view within Anthroposophy, which also informs our diagnosis, which is based on our 3-fold nature. Every physiological process in health or disease can be understood in terms of its underlying mix in terms of the three fundamental principles. That is, of our nerve-sense system, our metabolic-limb system, and our rhythmic system. The nerve-sense system, and the metabolic-limb system are polar opposites to each other, and are mediated through the rhythmic system.
All three of these principles permeate all of our body, yet each one is most visible in certain regions. The nerve-sense system predominates in our head and spinal system, as well as through all the nerve pathways throughout our body. It is our most “cosmic” part, which is vast and still like cold empty space, and when out of balance, contributes to conditions of hardening or rigidifying. All living processes emerge at the intersection between life and death, and our nerve-sense system is our most ‘dead’ aspect, in this sense.
The metabolic-limb system, in contrast, is full of movement and warmth. It is the active principle of our musculature, as well as our metabolism, and its activity is centred in our digestive organs and it radiates outward through our limbs. When a physiological imbalance is dominated by this system, it leads to processes of inflammation.

Left to their own devices, these two systems would destroy each other, if not mediated by the rhythmic system, which is most visible in our chest cavity, in terms of our heart beat, and continual expansion and contraction of our lungs. The activity of the heart and lungs touches every part of the body, through circulating oxygen through every cell of our body. It is through our rhythmic system that we have the capacity for feeling, as is evidenced by our quickening of breath and heartbeat when we’re confronted by an event of an emotional nature.
Understanding the dynamics of these three principles adds another dimension of clarity to diagnosing what is going on in a disease process, and which system needs to be better supported or attenuated.

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