There is a lot of talk about the mind-body connection these days, especially with the growing popularity of yoga and meditation. However, there isn’t as much talk about why this is an important ability and skill to develop.
I guess the best place to start is to explore what this connection even means, what does it look like? I believe that developing mind-body awareness is really about uncovering what is already there. When we have thoughts, they trigger emotions and emotions release neurotransmitters into our blood stream and tissues which create sensations we can experience.
Think of a time that you’ve been angry, how do you feel that? Do you notice tingling in your skin? Do you feel more alert? Do you start shaking? These are all normal responses to cortisol and adrenaline and they are natural signals from the brain that there is a threat or problem that needs to be addressed. However, more and more these days people are becoming separated from these sensations. Our culture has encouraged many of us to ignore difficult emotions, and the way that they feel in our bodies. We tend to value thought and logic over intuition and sensation which has lead to a perceived separation of mind and body. This way of being is called dissociation. For some of us this is a survival mechanism. It is the easiest way to ignore our needs and wants in order to maintain the status quo, to keep up with the Joneses or to simply just keep pushing forward. When it becomes extreme, some of us develop addictions to drugs, to shopping, to exercise, to food and even to unhealthy relationships to escape our emotions and our bodies. This tends to lead to more pain and suffering for ourselves as well as those around us.
So what would reconnecting ourselves do? By reconnecting, we get to explore our sensations and get to know the subtle signals our body is sending to us. With practice, we become more fluent in the language of our sensations and when we do that, we can chose to respond to the messages with kindness and compassion rather than running away or ignoring them. This takes courage, because often times doing the compassionate thing for ourselves isn’t the thing that others want us to do. Sometimes it means staying home and resting when you would normally go out to be social. Sometimes it means eating outside of the ‘normal’ lunch break times. And sometimes it means doing something really nice for yourself when you or others might think that it is indulgent or greedy.
I am willing to say it is absolutely worth it to be more in tune with your needs so that you can meet more of them. If your body is happy, nourished and well rested and you are enjoying activities you find fulfilling, you can only be a positive force in the world. By taking care of yourself and establishing your boundaries, you can actually give more.
I work with a technique called MABT to help you create a better connection and help you more easily meet your needs. MABT (Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy) has been effective in helping people recover from substance abuse and eating disorder and you can read more about it here .
If you are interested in trying a treatment to help you with addiction, anxiety, depression or just deepening your connection with yourself let me know and we can figure out if it is right for you.