The mind-body connection has been getting a lot of mainstream attention. Ancient practices like yoga, acupuncture, and meditation have become accepted complementary therapies and activities. For a long time, mainstream western medicine took the stance that the mind and the body were separate entities, largely uninfluenced by each other. Parts of the body, brain, and self were often treated as separate from the whole. Holistic medicine and practices, which have been gaining popularity and seeing a resurgence over the past several years, recognizes the intricate connections between all parts of ourselves. Holistic medicine can simply be defined as a practice that considers all parts of the whole person including mind, body, spirit, and emotions. By looking at the whole person and addressing the interconnectedness of the mind and the body, we can strive for optimal wellness and integration. To achieve health and an overall feeling of wellbeing, holistic medicine stresses the importance of the mind-body connection, and in fact the connection between all parts of ourselves, including the ways in which our environment might be impacting us. In this article, we’ll dive into the definition of the mind-body connection, why it’s important, and some practical ways we can strive to improve this connection.
What Is The Mind-Body Connection?
The mind-body connection is all about the idea that our bodies are, in part, a reflection of the state of our minds. This means that when we experience a physical ailment such as a disease or a headache, we shouldn’t look only to physical causes and cures, but also to mental and emotional stressors such as work, family life, and other non-psychical issues. The mind-body connection is a way of taking a bigger picture approach to problems. Our physical health is influenced by genetic factors, environment, social conditions, nutrition and food, and our mental and emotional interactions and states. When you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or upset, you might notice that your heart rate quickens, you start to sweat, and your body feels different. This is a simple example of the mind-body connection at work. Nothing happened directly to your physical body. However, you’re experiencing physical symptoms based on a mental or emotional state. Additionally, when we get a “gut feeling” about something, we’re referring to an emotion that’s causing a physical effect. We get a specific feeling in our stomach. There are countless examples of the mind-body connection at play.
Why Is It So Important?
The mind-body connection can be seen as a tool or a way of thinking that allows us to know ourselves more intimately. When we see ourselves as one connected unit instead of several dispersed parts, we might begin to feel more whole. Likewise, this connection with ourselves may help us to feel more connected with our environments and with other people. Additionally, when we understand that our mind and emotions impact our physical selves, we can feel empowered not only to be more aware of our mental, emotional, and physical states but to take action to make ourselves feel great.
What Can We Do To Improve Mind-Body Connection?
There are so many ways to improve and strengthen the mind-body connection. The first and perhaps simplest way is to become aware of your body and mind and get in-tune with its sensations and messages. This takes practice, so start slow. You can take a few minutes each day to check-in with your physical body. How does it feel? Are there any aches and pains? Do you have any strange sensations? Then, check-in with your mental state. How is your mental health today? Have your thoughts been largely positive or negative? Do you have much mental chatter? Next, check-in with your emotions. How are you feeling? Do any of these feelings manifest as bodily sensations? If it’s difficult to get a clear sense of your overall state at first, don’t worry. It takes time, but with consistent attention to your mind and body, you’ll become more attuned to their messages. Additionally, practices like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and mindfulness exercises all serve to strengthen the mind-body connection. Try taking up a regular yoga practice or a daily 10-15 minute meditation routine. You’ll start to see the mind-body connection muscle strengthening.
The Body-Mind Connection
The flip-side is also true. Our bodily states can greatly impact our minds. Think about the mental and emotional benefits of a great workout. It’s not just your body that feels the rewards. You also might be in a better mood, feel lighter, and experience more positivity in general. Conversely, when you’re in pain or sick, your mental state may start to worsen. The same goes for food and nutrition. More and more, studies are finding that what we put into our physical bodies has a direct impact on our mental and emotional health. So, it’s important to remember that we have a body-mind connection, too.
It’s All About Balance
At its heart, the mind-body connection (and the body-mind connection) is all about finding balance and harmony for yourself. There’s tremendous potential for increases happiness, wellbeing, and self-awareness when we realize the interconnectedness of all parts of ourselves. Taking time to get good rest, eat well, practice yoga or meditation, and getting regular exercise are all simple ways to achieve that mind-body connection balance. There’s no right or wrong way to get into the flow. You can pick and choose which practices work best for you and start to tune into the messages that your mind, body, and emotions are sending you. It’s fun, simple, and endlessly rewarding. Self-awareness and feeling a sense of connection are also extremely important parts of recovery. So, focusing on the mind-body connection is likely to add a boost to your recovery journey, as well. You’ve got this.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you – it’s never too late to begin taking steps towards a happier, healthier life.