I don’t know who exactly posted it on twitter this morning, but when I clicked through to this link about the connection between the mind and the body, I knew that it and a further exploration of the mind-body connection was the perfect topic for the Week in Wellness post for this week.
I think I’ve long known that there is a connection between what is going on in our heads and what is going on in our bodies, but the time I spent working with massage therapists really brought that home to me. In looking at the graphic that accompanies the Elephant Journal post, I can clearly see where I have some issues popping up with regard to my major arthritis flares. I think it’s probably no coincidence that the times that my flares have been the worst have have been when I’ve been experiencing acute stress with regard to things like financial strain or burdens.
I was searching for further information about the mind-body connection and stumbled across this article. While I can’t fully support the notion that we can think away disease through the power of our mind (if that were true, does that mean that some folks aren’t thinking about it enough? Or aren’t praying about it enough? Do I not get pregnant because I’m not visualizing it enough? Not meditating on it enough? Doesn’t work for me to think about it that way), I can get behind the idea that our thoughts about our sickness or our health can make us better or worse.
Of the five self-healing practices listed in the Live Bold and Bloom article, I regularly practice meditation, deep breathing, and visualization/positive thinking (mainly through the use of affirmation). I have tried yoga a few times at different stages of my life and it does not strike me as something that I particularly need to incorporate into my regular practice to create a more fulfilling and healthful life for myself. It wasn’t something I enjoyed. I suppose I could give it another shot if it’s something that gives a good return on the investment.
I do know that meditation makes a huge difference in my life (I’m a proponent). I don’t know if I do meditation “right”. I find myself wandering during the course of a meditation, and I’ve created a little visualization that is a fishing pole that casts out and reels my mind back in when I find that it has wandered off and is getting lost in whatever it is caught up in. I meditate at night to rid myself of the day and prepare myself for sleep. It, along with with some sleepytime tea and the right combination of medication, has made falling asleep much easier for me. I’d like to get to a point where I can meditate for a few minutes to begin my day – center myself, clear myself, prepare myself for whatever is coming. I’m in search of a good guided meditation app. I’ve been using Simply Being, which is good, but I’d like something else. I liked HeadSpace, but I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee for it. If you have suggestions, let me know in the comments.
Deep breathing is a practice that is held over from years of vocal training and getting into vocal training has reinforced it. I’ve read enough about the calming effect of breath to know that slowing down your breathing slows down your heart rate and has a calming effect. I’ve tried it at doctor’s offices before having my blood pressure taken to no effect, but in almost every other situation in my life, it works.
With positive thinking and visualization, I’ve had to re-train myself to actually thinking positively because I believe that I tend to a more pessimistic personality. For the most part, I do that by working with affirmations. I first start by writing them repeatedly in my affirmations journal. Once I have the affirmation committed to memory, I find myself working with it throughout the day. It pops up whenever I have a moment of quiet or a little bit of downtime. And then as the affirmation is more and more embedded into my psyche, I start picturing it – how it plays out from beginning to end. Things don’t always happen the exact way that I want them to. I don’t always get the exact job I want. But I find that when I focus my energies on those affirmations and those visualizations, I come closer to the results that I’m searching for than I do if I leave things up to chance.
What are your experiences with the mind-body connection? What practices do you employ to enhance the quality of your life and build upon the way our mind influences our physical health?