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 Mend The Body, Tune Up The Mind

The mind and the body are one integrated system.  They interact with each other in constant and intricate detail.  What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences affects the shape of the body and the chemistry within it.  The converse is equally true:  the body is continually influencing the mind.

"The face you wear  the thoughts you bring 
The heart may heal or break." Daniel Clement Colesworth

Check it out:

Clench your fists and jaw, and wrinkle your eyebrows. At the same time, think of something you don't like, and repeat firmly in your mind, "I can't stand this!" You will soon begin to have feelings of anger and frustration. Maintain it long enough, as we frequently do, and you will have physical and chemical changes that show in rising blood pressure and a faster heart rate.

Make some positive changes in your posture: tuck in your tummy, let the chest fill with your breathing and stick out, jut out the chin, stand and walk with firmness in the feet, and smooth out the skin on your face into a gentle smile. Quite easy. As time passes, you will notice that you think more clearly, talk with greater confidence, and feelings of calmness and security increase.

Change the body and you will have comparable changes in the mind.

Starting from the mind, part of the combination is equally dramatic:

Just to experiment: for a couple of hours, decide to have thoughts that neither blame you, nor anybody else. Pause on thoughts that give you and others credit for doing well or making the best effort. Dwell a little longer on situations and memories that amuse you. And start your tasks, little or big, with positive affirmations. We are talking here about thoughts that express kindness, compassion, amusement, and a positive outlook. Soon you might begin to notice changes in your feelings, and your body posture. If it were possible to observe, there will be chemical changes within the body too.

With this activity we have demonstrated the feedback loop between the mind and the body (if you like fancy words, you can call it the "psychobiological loop"): thoughts and feelings create a specific pattern of muscle use, which in turn reinforces the thoughts and feelings, and thus a particular set of related physical, mental, and emotional reactions is perpetuated.

Being aware of the mind/body connection can greatly increase your chances of well-being. The potential of personal satisfaction and improvement is almost without limit. Here are some pointers for your consideration:

Regular physical exercise has obvious physiological benefits. But it also has enormous benefits in psychological health: lessening of anxiety and tension, relief from depression, increase in self-esteem, buffer against stress, feelings of greater vitality, and improvement in intellectual functioning. With a program of regular exercise, you feel better, look better, and do better! "Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness." Edward Stanley, 15th. Earl of Derby

A healthy lifestyle supports mind/body health. In 1979, Julius B. Richmond, M.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. at the time, stated in his report that half the premature deaths in the U.S. may be due to unhealthy behaviors or lifestyle. Of the 10 leading causes of premature death, at least 7 could be substantially reduced if people altered their bad lifestyle habits, including poor nutrition, smoking, lack of exercise, and unhealthy responses to stress. A landmark study extending over four decades in the U.S. identified sedentary lifestyle, smoking, stress and obesity to be the most significant contributors to heart disease.

Psychological and emotional reactions affect physical health. Calm, peaceful thoughts give rise to compatible emotional reactions and similar physiological behaviors. We construct our world with our thoughts. As Carlos Castaneda says: "The world is suchandsuch or soandso because we tell ourselves that that is the way it is." I like very much Ken Keyes' statement: "A loving person lives in a loving world, a hostile person in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror."

Stress management is fundamental to mind/body health. Stress contributes to every mental and physical problem. Therefore, we must find ways to address our stress reaction. An effective strategy would consist of a healthy lifestyle, constructive social attitudes, and positive thoughts and feelings.

Mind/Body Calming Techniques. A great deal of research has shown that practicing a technique to quiet the mind and body sets in motion a positive spiral of thoughts, feelings, and chemical reactions. It is important to integrate such a technique into your mind/body health plan. Examples: meditation, relaxation response, Yoga, Tai Chi. We suggest the following mindbody integration that is both enjoyable and quite powerful:

Adopt an exercise system that allows you to move in a rhythm, e.g., walking, jogging, running, swimming, and climbing. Combine with it a pattern of breathing that is in harmony with the rhythm of movement. Finally, integrate a focus word or prayer that fits with the rhythm of movement as well as breathing. The effect for mind/body health is quite wonderful.

We have said that the mind and body constantly talk with each other. They are one interconnected system. For our health and general well-being, we need to address both of them.

taken from the Healthworld Wellness Centre web page