If you ever feel like you’re constantly fatigued with headaches or other pain in your body, you’ve probably thought about the things that are happening in your life. Have you just taken on a new job or promotion? Have you moved recently or had any other big changes in your life? What about the stress of finances, relationships or work? We’re often aware that there’s a link between the mind and body, yet we don’t do anything about it. Today, we’ll begin to unlock the power of the mind-body connection through understanding it a little more.
If you’re unsure of what the mind-body connection feels like for you, think back to a time you were stressed or anxious. Have you ever felt that when you are anxious, your stomach starts to feel funny, you might get hot or sweaty, or your heart starts racing? What about headaches? Have you ever been stressed and then felt a headache come on? If you have had these experiences, this is what the mind-body connection feels like. It appears that something completely external and non-physical manifests itself into the physical. It manifests itself into your body. Likewise, have you ever had physical pain that then manifests into stress, and anxiety? Maybe you’ve had an injury or sickness and start to feel down about it – or even depressed? It could also be a different experience between mind and body. Maybe you’ve begun a new movement routine and feel so energized mentally afterwards. You went for a run and now have a runner’s high and a new perception of self. These again, are examples of how you might experience the mind-body connection.
Let’s talk first about the mind. The mind isn’t just the brain. The mind isn’t just the sensory input that we take in from the outside world. It’s also the application of our perception of the outside world. What we think, feel and believe. We see it all through our own perception which gives color to the outside world. When we begin to understand that we’re more than just the senses, we start to realize that we are doing something to the outside world and internalizing it through what that outside event meant. Your job is a job, with work and people and events that are constantly occurring. Yet, our experience of the job and the work and the events may be entirely different from the person next to us. This is the core of what we mean by the mind. Your mind is completely your own perception.
When we perceive these things as good or bad, we end up feeling good or bad about ourselves. That energy of thought manifests itself into our body, sending signals to release hormones through our nervous system or to tense up a part of our body as we get ready for fight or flight. I remember when I began to realize that I was overriding my mind-body connection, I was really sick and still trying to work. I couldn’t even process that I was sick and that I should take care of myself until a co-worker told me that my health was more important than my work and that I should go home. We often don’t realize there is a mind-body connection not because we can’t rationally understand it. It’s because we haven’t prioritized our health in this way. Something is always more important. The kids, the work, the job, the money, the relationships. Yet, if we’re not here to carry out what we believe we’re here to do, we won’t be serving anyone or anything for long.
Ask yourself these questions to understand if you need to focus on your mind-body connection:
- Do I have chronic stress in my life?
- Do I often feel physical symptoms of stress like headaches, tension in lower back or stomach, or digestive issues – that are unrelated to movement, food or hydration?
- Do I often have trouble sleeping?
- Do I seem to get sick often?
- Does my appetite seem to have changed?
- Do I often feel tired and fatigued?
Our body stores a lot of emotion and energy from the external world. If you’re starting to say yes to many or few of these questions, you might be thinking that you’ll want to explore this mind-body connection even further. Let yourself be curious and non-judgmental about why these conditions exist in your life. From this place, you can then begin to examine what habits of the mind are creating these imprints in your body. This awareness alone may help you feel better.
If you’d like to go even further, in this month’s Leadership group coaching, we’ll be covering the mind/body practices. How do we learn what our bodies are telling us, connect to these external experiences from a place of internal truth, and live our healthiest lives. If you enjoy these kinds of topics, you can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.