|Posted by kevanowen on March 10, 2014 at 2:30 PM|
In the western world for the past 500 years or so there has been a tendency to regard the mind and the body as belonging to two separate realms of existence. Whatever the truth or untruth in that belief there is no doubt that the mind and the body interact and influence each other. Or, they are two aspect of a whole system like the two sides of a coin.
What happens in the mind effects the body and what happens in the body effects the mind. If you follow medical news stories you can see example of this. Only this week there was a report about research that show how anger outburst can be a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease.1. Another report from Manchester University was about how mindfulness practice can relive the pain of rheumatoid osteoarthritis. 2
Clinical Hypnotherapy has been used successfully in treating irritable bowel syndrome and is now listed in the NICE guidelines as a valid treatment for IBS when other interventions have not provided relief. 3 And we all know about the power of the placebo; how a dummy pill can bring about significant relief in many medical conditions and can even improve sporting performance. 4
I’m not saying that it’s” all in the mind”. A certain amount of pain and discomfort is inevitable in life. When we feel aches and pains or fall sick these are signals from our body and it is important to pay attention to them and to respond with compassion. Conventional medicine plays a vital role in helping us to get better. It’s also true that mental attitude can play an important role in preventing ill health.
By becoming attuned with the ebb and flow of our emotional state we can develop the capacity to calm and soothe any excessive disturbance. When we do this we become more resilient to the stresses of life. This has a preventative effect in helping us to maintain optimum health.
This attitude of self-soothing can be cultivated. The first step is self-awareness; noticing our gut feelings. Whenever we notice disturbing feelings we can self-sooth and nurture ourselves.
The trick is, if we notice that we are getting angry, irritated, anxious or afraid in a way that might be out of proportion the situation, we can firstly take a pause and take a few calm breaths. We can take a few mindful moments to notice what is happening in our body and this helps to calm the Fight and Flight response and replace it with the Care and Nurture response which is just as powerful.
We can then take a step back from the heat of the moment and just observe with kindly curiosity how the body feels.
It isn’t so much stressful events themselves that can affect our health; rather it’s the way we respond to events. When we view life’s inevitable changes as challenges it can stretch us in a healthy way. We can start to view challenges as opportunities to progress, to rise to the challenge and to develop flow. This boosts optimism and self-efficacy, a can-do attitude to life. By cultivating these positive emotions we are also helping the body to function well.
The mind body connection is a two-way street. The mind effects the body and the body effects the mind. Our emotional state and how skilled we ate at regulating that can affect the well-being of the body. Conversely how we use our body effects our mind and our emotional state. If I develop the habit of walking around with a stooped posture, staring at the ground, then that will make me feel down beat emotionally. If I walk tall, with a spring in my step, and a smile on my face, that is more likely to translate into feeling good. So becoming aware of our physical posture and choosing to open up into more of an expansive stance can really make us feel more positive. 5.