First, let’s talk about ‘what is the mind and body connection?’
The brain and the body are connected through neural pathways. These are made up of hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters. These send signals between the body and brain that control our breathing, movement, thinking, feeling and everything else our bodies do every single day even when we are not aware (like sleeping, ever been woken up because you feel like you are falling? Your body jumps because your mind and body are connected).
The mind and body need each other to make decisions. The mind depends on the body to experience things so it knows how to make it react in the future. While the body depends on the mind to make the decisions on what to do. Without one or the other we wouldn’t be able to live a ‘normal’ life (imagine being extremely drunk and not being in control of your body).
The other ways that you can understand this mind and body connection is through the example of stress. When you are feeling stressed your muscles can feel like they are tightening, your breathing becomes quicker, you may experience stomach pains, nausea and shaking. This can lead to more serious problems if it is prolonged. The stress didn’t come from the body to start with. The mind found something that it wasn’t happy with and this is how the body has reacted.
The opposite example to this would be when you have done something very exciting and you have that adrenaline pumping through your body, you don’t feel pain as much. Not until your body stops pumping the adrenaline around it anyway and then the mind reacts to the pain.
This proves that our feelings, thoughts, reactions can change our bodies in a positive or negative way. Being healthy in our bodies can result in a healthier mind and vice versa.
Why is this so important?
Because when the mind and body are connected, we can feel balanced. We feel healthier, happier, more in control.
Control is such an important thing and if we can control our thoughts, reactions and emotions then we know that we are doing the best we can, we can manage difficulties in life, we can have healthy and happy relationships, we can control our behaviour and be a better person.
Sounds good? So, how can we start connecting our mind and body?
There are a few ways I am going to name but please bear in mind that these are practices, meaning they may take a little while to work, this is not a quick fix.
Here are 6 ways to connect the mind and the body
- Practice relaxing your muscles. Notice that when you mindfully relax your muscles what it does to your mind. Can you feel your mind slowing down? Does it instantly relax your emotions and thoughts?
- Meditation. This is similar to relaxing your body but you are trying to relax your mind. A great way to start meditation is to practise with guided meditations, listening to someone else tell you what to do. Over time you may start sitting in silence but for some people this is extremely difficult and listening to guided meditations is just as good.
- Mindfulness. Take a day to note what you eat, how you feel, how you react to certain things. Once you recognise things that negatively or positively impact you, you can do your best to reduce or increase them. For example, every time I eat bourbon biscuits I always feel heavy, no energy, and a shorter temper afterwards but every time I listen to music and sing while cooking I feel happier and less stressed.
- Do some Yoga. Yoga is a great way to strengthen the mind and body connection as that is exactly what yoga is all about. Every time you move, you are noticing how your body feels, you relax into the poses and it helps you take note of your thoughts. When you do yoga you’re being mindful of your body and thoughts and the more you practice the deeper that connection becomes.
- Become aware of your breath. Notice at different times of the day or in different situations how your breath is. Notice the inhale and exhale. The deeper the breath the deeper the connection. Really concentrate on your breath for at least 5 minutes a day and you will be feeling a lot more connected.
- Eating habits are also a very big one. Food plays such an important role for the body and mind. Eating the wrong things can disconnect you and make you feel sluggish but eating the right things will give you energy, keep your mind happier and have you feeling connected with yourself and everyone around. If you would like to know more about eating habits as a yogi, let me know in the comments and I will write another blog on this.
You don’t have to do all of these at once. Just practising one of these is great, maybe you add in more as the weeks go on. Remember these are practices they can take time to implement. The most important thing is trying and noticing!
Once you notice the mind and body connection you can start controlling it to improve your life.
If you want to see how yoga and gaining flexibility can help with the mind and body connection, check out this free 5 day flexibility challenge that is happening June 13th. We are going to be going over how flexibility can help with better mental health and some other amazing benefits.