In this third and final article in the mind/body series we will explore how all that we think, say, believe and feel ultimately impacts the physical body, both internally and externally. Bodymind is a phrase coined recently to illustrate what is becoming the new paradigm in biochemistry and medicine, yet has been known by alternative practitioners for some time – that mind and body are inseparable. In fact, the body is really a corporeal extension of the mind, an idea briefly embraced by Freud.
Our mental state influences our health. Repressed emotions, buried deep within the subconscious mind, inevitably show up as injuries, chronic pain, and stress triggers. What is ignored by the mind and rejected by the brain is bounced back to other areas of the central nervous system, where they are stored in the autonomic system and somatic tissues, eventually materializing as physical ailments. Often what we repress is not conscious or deliberate, but occurs as a survival mechanism when we are on extreme overload or severely traumatized.
Here are some cases from my files revealing the dynamic link between states of mind and reactions of the body. As a specialist in hypnotherapy, I used age regression to tap into the subconscious mind in all three cases.
#1 A young woman in her mid-30’s consulted with me regarding her difficulty in losing weight, in spite of doing regular exercise and a maintaining a fairly well-balanced diet. She told me that she always had a poor self-image, even when complimented by others. In the regression, she goes back to when she was 7 years old and she overhears her pediatrician and her very slender and elegant mother discussing her mother’s concern about her hanging on so long to her “baby fat”. This becomes imprinted upon her subconscious mind and she unconsciously hangs onto her baby fat, thinking that she can never look good enough to please her mother.
#2 A male executive rapidly climbing the corporate ladder couldn’t wear a necktie without experiencing a choking sensation. Naturally, this was interfering with his career as he needed to dress for the image. In his regression, he went back to a pre-natal state, as a 4-month-old fetus. His mother had fallen down, causing him to be a twisted position for almost 24 hours, with most of the pressure on the neck area. The fear and discomfort of this experience was reproduced every time he felt any pressure around his neck. Remarkably he could start wearing ties shortly after this session!
#3 One of my students in Japan suffered from chronic stomach pain throughout her life. Her well-to-do parents had taken her to many specialists in the U.S. and Europe and they were never able to cure this pain completely. In a regression class, she was asked to go to the source of the pain and began to recount two separate past lives in which she had died from wounds to the stomach. I am not making any assertions here about the existence of reincarnation, yet, the simple recollection of these lives was sufficient to eradicate the pain. Somehow her mind had provided her with a metaphor for healing and she wrote a letter to me a few months after this workshop, overjoyed that she was finally free of the pain.
As Deepak Chopra cautions us, our minds are constantly eavesdropping on every thought that we have, every statement we make. So, when you say that a certain person makes you “sick to your stomach”; or, that you can’t stand your body, you’re getting old, that work is nothing but a headache – molecular messages are converted into energetic impulses and carried throughout your nervous, endocrine and immune systems.
This was empirically demonstrated by world-renowned biochemist, Candace Pert, who played a key role in understanding the function of the opiate receptor. She proved the linkage between these apparently separate systems of the body, referring to their interaction as a psychosomatic network. Thoughts and emotions trigger the nervous system, which in turn galvanize the endocrine system to secrete certain hormones. Consequently, the hormones alert the immune system as to the appropriate mode of action. Learning and intelligence are not just isolated functions of the mind, but also travel throughout the entire body, carried by the cells. Therefore the mind is in the body. Positive and loving thoughts translate into hormones of bliss (endorphins) and a strong immune system. Negative and fearful thoughts transmute into hormones of anxiety (adrenaline) and weaken the immune system.
It would seem, then, that there are no random thoughts and statements. So when you foster ideas of self-rejection and make self-deprecating remarks, you can indirectly be affecting your physical state or well-being.
Here are some exercises and techniques that you can do to gain more insight into your own mind/body communication and for dealing with persistent symptoms or conditions:
A. Food for thought: What are your deep beliefs about your body? About health and aging? What do you really feel about your body shape and physical appearance? Do you put yourself down often? Are you abusive to yourself within your own mind? Remember, every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts and gearing up for response.
B. Be aware of your thoughts: Catch yourself at least 1 time a day in a negative thought form and contradict it. It’s as simple as just saying or thinking Cancel!
C. Deep breathing: Conscious and focused breathing for just a few moments several times a day will help synchronize the mind and body. We have a biochemical potential for change, so take a few moments to get in touch with your body and send waves of comfort and acceptance to your whole being.
D. Dialogue with your body: Each pain and diseased organ has its story to tell, as Louise Hay teaches in her book You Can Heal Your Life. Do some deep breathing and relax your mind and then enter into conversation with the affected body part. Try to let your mind be open and “listen” for the response, without judgment.
- Ageless Body; Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra
- Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert