As mentioned in other articles, the mind and body are intimately connected and mutually influence each other in a myriad of different ways.
This means that with our body we can influence our mind, and through our mind we can influence the body. This can also be applied in our approach to mental and emotional difficulties. Through specific physical exercises and breathing patterns we can influence fear, anxiety and panic attacks.
For me personally, this was an eye-opener. Addressing a mental disorder through mental practices felt very stressful to me. When I was going through anxiety disorder, my mind was already such a jungle of difficulties, that I did not really want to spend any more time up in my head. What I needed was to settle down into my body, which I had neglected in many ways in the previous years, and to connect to its nurturing and calming qualities again.
We probably all have experiences of how our mind and body influence each other. To give an idea of how the body can influence the mind, and how the mind can influence the body, I give two examples from my own life:
Body influences mind: When I spend too many hours working behind the computer, my shoulders become tense, my neck sore. My whole body feels stiff and a bit numb. My mind becomes irritable, foggy and tired. Then, when I decide to go outside for a hike through the forest, where I breathe deep into my lungs, where my blood starts to flow and my feet start to tingle, my mind becomes lively again, with inspiration and existential joy.
Mind influences body: When my mind is filled with thoughts about not being good enough, about not being wanted, loved, or when I feel inferior to others, my body starts to feel dull, my breath weakens, my shoulders start to droop and I feel like rolling up in a ball somewhere in the corner of my bed.
Do these examples sound familiar to you? Of course, in reality, it is not just the mind influencing the body, or just the body influencing the mind in any given situation. There is a constant two-way communication happening in which they keep on influencing each other.
It can be difficult to perceive where, when or why a particular emotion or state of mind starts. We have such busy life styles, and so many stimuli from outside drawing our attention, that we rarely seem to have time to turn our attention inward. Neither is turning inward a skill that most of us learn in childhood or in school. We often have to find out ourselves, and sometimes the hard way.
When we practice turning inward, day after day, we will start to connect more to ourselves. By close observation, we will learn more about what actually happens inside of us as we go through life’s adventures, and how our body and mind influence each other constantly in every situation. Through practice, introspection can become a powerful tool for balancing ourselves.
Read this following article about how to become more aware of body-mind dynamics.