The pericardium, often referred to as the fluid filled "sack" where the heart resides, is actually an awesome connective tissue (or fascia) which has many amazing qualities. One interesting thing about this so-called sack is that it seems to arise from the diaphragm. The two are inseparable, in the absence of a scalpel or butcher knife.
When your diaphragm contracts (for in-breathing) the pericardium is pulled downward, massaging the heart. As the abdominal muscles contract, they push the guts in and upward, the ribcage is pulled inward by a series of muscles I call the "in breathers" and the pericardium is squeezed between the lungs (which it is also interconnected with). Thus, out-breathing is the return [massage] stroke.
So if the pericardium can be seen as arising from the diaphragm perhaps the lungs are arising from that. A good image for this new pericardial paradigm is the image of a fascial butterfly. Imagine a butterfly, upside down, so that the head is bellow the body. The forewings of the butterfly form the form the diaphragm, the hindwings pleura (fascia) of the lungs, and the thorax of the butterfly becomes the pericardium.
The lungs oxygenate! They in-spire! The lungs connect us the earth by way of trees. In fact, inside the lungs we can see a microcosmic reflection of trees. We even use tree terminology to describe the lungs, like bronchi (branch) and bronchioles (little branches or twigs). Do you remember from grade school that lungs breathe in what trees breathe out; we breathe out what they breathe in? I have reflected on this throughout my life.
The heart thinks! It works together with the lungs to circulate nutrients and discharge toxic gasses while the nervous system and fascia produce and distribute electricity. Imagine this complex structure glowing in the dark… a lighted butterfly shaped vortex in the central core of our being.
This energy epicenter is home to such things as the heart chakra (the metaphysical sphere where our ability to love originates; the thymus gland (the master gland of the immune system), the Wei Chi (the energetic defense shield), and the Shen, you know, the Spirit!
Spirit, soul, and psyche are intertwined words throughout cultures and histories. They are not the same. They are the same. Sometimes having separate meanings and other times not. The Spirit is the seat of emotions. It is consciousness. When it is gone, "you" are gone. Though Spirit is not the same as the soul. There are connections between the two. I think it is easier to think of it in this way; the soul is the everlasting bit of the human that resides somewhere in the Ethers. The soul is the subject of religion. The Spirit is the place where the heavens and earth come together. It is much like our concept of mind. In fact, the mind has a lot of correlations to the pericardium. The word for taking a breath is "inspiration." In-spirit-ation. "Ation" means action, "in" is the direction it is going and spirit… "spirit" means… spirit. So, we are taking "spirit" into our lungs. And when you exhale, what are we doing? Spirit also speaks to a gracious quality. Thus the connection between out breathing (taking away) and spirit. It is etheric, mysterious, mystical. When we are full of spirit, we are said to be "inspired."
One of my favorite questions to ponder is, "where is my mind?" Culturally, people point to different areas of their body when speaking of the mind. Some point to the head, behind the eyes. Is that the place you thought of? Others point to their hearts. Strangely enough, no one points to other random parts of their bodies. No one points to their thighs, for example.
The heart contains tiny nerve structures known as sensory neurites. There are 40,000 of these bad boys! What makes them so cool? They are so similar to the nerve structures in the brain that some call them, "the little brain in the heart." As you know, brains think. So, hearts think… right?
Cross-culturally there is a connection with consciousness and emotions (Spirit) and the heart. The Spirit might best be seen as a "psycho-soma" or mind-body [complex] where you can honor the instinct and emotion that seems to come throughout the body as well as the obvious central nervous system processor we call the brain.
This pericardium would be electric and hormonal.
It would include the heart and lungs; diaphragm; the heart and solar plexus chakras; and bridges the elements of air/metal and fire. It has relationships with the respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and energetic systems. While I am out on a (figurative) limb pontificating as I am about the various relations of this energetic pericardium, let us not forget the close proximity (and fascial connection) to the thymus gland, the master gland of the immune system.
The Spirit is said to live in the heart and the heart lives in the pericardium!
To be continued...