Our mind and body are inseparably connected to each other. The word “mind” here is not used as a synonym for brain. It concerns our mental states, our beliefs, our thoughts and our emotions. Our mental states are tied to our physiology, making it important for us to understand the very real ramifications of negative thinking and their physiological manifestation.
The history of mind-body connection
About 300 years ago, all system of medicine identified the mind and the body as one unified entity. It wasn’t until the 17th century when western medicine saw the two as distinct entities. Although the emergence of western medicine paved the way for the many benefits of allopathic medicine we gladly utilise today (including surgery, trauma care and pharmaceuticals), it significantly limited scientific inquiry into the potential of human emotions in healing. Research has once again unveiled the complex connection between the mind and the body. As psychiatrist James Lake of Stanford University articulately writes, “extensive research has confirmed the medical and mental benefits of meditation, mindfulness training, yoga, and other mind-body practices.”
How we think has a causal influence on our body
In the wise words of Buddha “All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” The implications of this statement may have been rather unclear to understand before but recent scientific research has shed new light on the subject. The evidence of the mind-body connection are in abundance. Whether we are able to wrap our heads around this convoluted concept or not, we sure do experience it in our daily lives. Involuntarily salivating at the sight or thought of delicious food or feeling “butterflies” in our stomach due to feeling nervous before presenting in front of people are simple examples of the mind-body connection.
If we allow ourselves to succumb to negative or self-destructive thoughts, our bodies will follow through as well. Emotional instability and mental imbalance can lead to headaches, sore upper back, insomnia, high blood pressure, unhealthy weight loss/gain, and tight shoulders. All of which arise due to stress. Research even infers that our emotional states can have a direct effect on the efficacy of our immune system.
Use your body to reinforce your mind
You can create a mental state of confidence for yourself just by standing tall with your chest out like a superhero. Your gait, gestures and even small movements have an impact on your level of hormones. Successful people have low levels of stress hormone (cortisol) and high levels of testosterone which brings about assertiveness and confidence. The next time you feel you could use some confidence, stimulate the perfect balance of hormones by striking a Superman pose!