This post is dedicated to the memory and work of Joan King, a master investigator of Reality who left this world June 11. As I spontaneously said to one friend, “Her work continues now, on whole N-E-W (non-ego-willed) levels, the ones she loved so much! Here is a soul who, in both science and spirituality, was a bridge-builder as she strove to illuminate the realities of the human nature with which we’re meant to navigate the physical aspects of this life, and our eternal higher nature, through which we have the opportunity to transform ourselves and our world. God speed, Joan. You’re with us every day, we know.
What if the only experiences that make any real impact in life are those in which we’re as completely present to the moment as possible?
And what if these can only happen when we’ve had adequate periods of rest and reflection?
Neuroscientist and author Joan C. King came to that conclusion in her research lab at Tufts University after she discovered that just as every cell in our body needs to function from a nucleus or center, we are also designed to live from some sort of core in order to be healthy and whole.
To do that, we need to function within the timeframe of that core or center, which is the present. If thoughts and awareness are swirling around in what-ifs of the future, or mired in what’s already become part of history, we’ll be disconnected from that ever-present center.
It doesn’t go away, but our functioning has no access to it. And we sacrifice the greater share of our potential power, King says.
Those of us who pray or meditate know that one of the benefits of these is that they help us get back to that present-time condition of awareness. This is what leads to that “flow” we feel when we’re connected with and functioning from our center, a sensation of showing up in life and seeing a remarkable number of factors appear to simply fall into place.
Many even describe having experiences like these during dire or emergency situations, as though they connect with and go to some quiet inner place and then everything flows from that.
King describes another vital concept that cells model that is part of what enables them to function: they don’t stay “on” all the time. Cells’ life rhythm is cyclical. They experience periods of expending energy for a task, then immediately shift over into a “refractory” period during which they rest and gradually accumulate energy and resources in preparation for their next expenditure.
Cells have no choice but to rest, and their innate wisdom abides by this requirement of healthy living.
Humans often skip this part of the cycle, even though it’s as much a part of our design as it is that of our cells, says King. In a culture in which sleep deprivation has become epidemic (and work could rightly be dubbed a state religion) lots of us may be missing the chance to function from our best and deepest resources.
Genuine rest and re-creation (to take that word down to its root parts) allow us to connect with our center effectively. Without these, our access to this greatest source of our natural strength is blocked.
King also notes that without rest cycles, we have little opportunity to use another powerful tool: learning from experience, because the resting phase is the one that gives us the time and space to reflect, the only way we gain the perspective that allows us to learn.
Connect with Joan King’s work at:
The spirit of Joan’s life is captured in her family’s request in lieu of flowers – that those who wish to honor her pay kindness forward to three other individuals.
Some of her own words about the lovely legacy she’s left for us:
“The cellular wisdom series of books is not a declaration of dogma, but rather is a vehicle for me to share my insights about the teachings of our cells and our bodies about how to thrive in our lives as individuals and in relationship, from intimate to corporate to community to planetary. My books are intended to stimulate you to explore and uncover your own insights.” ~ Joan C. King