Years and years ago, we believed that the mind and body are separate entities. It’s no surprise that today, we know better. The lines between spirituality and science are finally blurring, and scientists from around the globe are taking interconnectedness seriously.
Today when it comes to our overall well-being, the more accepted model acknowledges that the physical, psychological, and environmental are intertwined. Basically, your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act. This is often called the “mind-body connection.” When you are stressed, anxious, or upset, your body tries to tell you that something just isn’t right.
“An example many of us can identify with is having stress trigger a headache,” reports clinical health psychologist Lubna Somjee. “In this case, your mind (the psychological) is interpreting your stress during your day (the environmental) and based on the interpretation you make, you either are able to soothe yourself or end up with a splitting headache (the physical).”
Your own power
What you believe (what you tell yourself both consciously and unconsciously) affects what happens in your life. You actively create your own world, writes Dr. Eve Wood in her book 10 Steps to Take Charge of Your Emotional Life. How can you possibly have so much power? You may doubt that you do – especially since you haven’t consciously chosen the pain and suffering you’ve experienced, yet subconsciously you do create distress in yourself. Therefore, every choice you make and every thought you think has an instant impact on your life. And most likely, these choices and thoughts come from a place of fear -or a place of power.
When we make choices from what author Brenda Anderson calls our “fear zone,” these increasingly unsatisfying decisions build on one another, and amplify distress. They offer a low return on energy, she writes in her book Playing the Quantum Field. These fear-based choices include: head trips, getting stuck in a comfort zone, repeating the same patterns over and over, and creating drama from situation to situation.
A better choice
On the other hand, when we make choices from our “power zone,” we get a high energetic return – and our effectiveness soars. The empowered choices Anderson outlines include suspending judgment, tuning in to others, observing from a detached perspective, believing in what you believe in with all your heart, lightening up, and telling the truth.
If you have good emotional health, you’re likely aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and the effect they have on your body. And you’ve learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. You feel good about yourself, and you have healthy relationships.
Make a plan
Try this plan to strengthen your mind-body connection:
1. Identify the beliefs that keep you captive, and reprogram yourself. First, it’s important to recognize your emotions and understand why you are having them. Sorting out the causes of sadness, stress, and anxiety in your life can help. If these feelings are causing physical problems, keeping them inside can make you feel worse. It’s okay to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you.
Beyond the obvious, like “I am upset because I had a fight with my lover,” there may be some deep-rooted core beliefs that you are carrying around. These could affect your mind-body connection and the way your life unfolds. “We carry internalized messages and ideas about ourselves,” explains Wood. “We often re-create familiar (and often dysfunctional) family dynamics in our adult relationships.”
2. Look at your core beliefs. Do you think you aren’t good enough? Do you think your needs aren’t important? When one of these crippling beliefs pops up, replace it with a positive message. For instance turn, “I am fat” into “I appreciate the miracle of my body.” Say it over and over again until it becomes ingrained. You don’t even need to think the new message is true at first. But eventually you will. “Whenever you give yourself encouraging or positive messages, internal chemicals are released that calm the deep limbic system of your brain. This makes you feel happy and relaxed,” says Wood.
3. Listen to your body. Your body talks to you. You psychically express your emotional state. Every moment our physical selves are registering experiences, and communicating with us about what is happening. Even when we don’t realize it, we’re physically feeling things. “Our bodys’ symptoms are manifestations of our unrecognized psychic pain – of stress, depression, anxiety, grief, and fear,” says Wood.
When we’re out of touch with our emotional challenges and needs, our bodies feel and express these problems. We may suffer from sleep difficulties, muscle tension, or shortness of breath. We may become irritable, sweaty, short-tempered, and tearful. “Sometimes we’re carrying traumas that we don’t even realize exist, but our bodies struggle to let us know what’s going on by making us sick,” explains Wood.
It’s your job to learn what your body is telling you. What do you know about its language? Do you get a stomach ache when your gut tells you there’s something you’re doing that you don’t really want to do? Do you get a headache when you’re stressed? Pay attention to how your body feels when you are happy, sad, scared, or overwhelmed.
Remember, our deepest healing happens from a place of peace, presence, self-respect, solitude, and deep personal connection. While we are in this state, we can access our pain and inner wisdom to become healthier over all.