Make the most of your mind-body connection by trying these practical ways to take control of your thoughts and put them to work for you.
What is the mind-body connection?
You use yours every day in very real, observable ways.
Think about it:
How do you make your legs move when you want to walk?
Do you ever wake up at exactly the right time without an alarm clock?
Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling depressed or down, you get sick more easily?
Even mainstream medical professionals and scientists recognize the power of the mind over the body.
The trend towards “holistic healing” continues to drive new research in the fields of psychology and even cancer research.
So now that we know the mind effects the physical body (and really, it’s pretty obvious), what are some practical ways to harmonize them?
1. Consider getting a regular massage.
Proper massage technique aligns the mind with the body in a powerful way that relaxes both.
If you can’t afford to pay a professional, consider exchanging them with your partner or a friend at least once a week.
Take the time to learn some basic acupressure—it’s sooooo worth it.
2. Try fasting.
Nothing brings the mind-body connection to your attention like fasting.
It isn’t for everyone.
You should absolutely talk over health concerns with your doctor before trying to fast (especially if you have conflicting health issues, like diabetes or an eating disorder).
But fasting to deepen the mind-body connection dates back almost to the dawning of religion.
I once fasted 23 hours a day for over 40 days. The experience changed my perspective about my body and my the capacity of my will forever.
3. Start a meditation practice—and keep it up.
A life-long meditation practice provides a multitude of physical and psychological benefits, including reduced stress, anxiety, cardiovascular disease and even increased compassion for others.
Start with a simple 15-minute meditation session before bed and/or just after waking up. In no time, expect to experience an uplifted mood, an easier time falling asleep, more restful sleep and even reduced conflict in your inner personal relationships.
If you find yourself frustrated by a wandering mind, try a guided meditation recording. A reader with a soothing voice makes a huge difference.
My absolute favorite of all time is Kelly Howell. Her speaking voice is amazing. You have to hear it to believe it. Try the Secret Universal Mind Meditation <——affiliate link. It’s my fav!
4. Stop criticizing yourself.
Correcting your mistakes and building on experience is a healthy approach to learning.
But constantly micromanaging yourself mentally is not.
Negative self-talk impacts the body as much as the mind.
Pay careful attention to your inner monologue. Make a conscious effort to redirect negativity. Restate harsh self-criticism in a positive way that promotes growth.
5. Scan your body for clues.
Try this simple exercise. Lie down, close your eyes and be completely still for about 10 minutes. Don’t move muscle, except to breathe.
Then, beginning in your crown chakra, mentally scan your body for areas of tension, tightness or pain.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives, we literally forget to check in with our bodies and ignore discomfort for months or even years.
Early detection of disease or injury very often leads to better outcomes and long-term prognosis.
Not all symptoms give off early, observable signals, of course, but sometimes, they do.
If you routinely tune into your body in a conscious way, you’ll be shocked by how much you ignore!
6. Try aromatherapy.
When aligning the mind to the body, consider all the senses.
Scent triggers powerful emotions—although not the way the essential oil industry wants you to think.
The reaction you experience when you detect an aroma arises from deeply personal memories.
Lavender may or may not promote a sense of relaxation for you. If you grew up on a lavender farm, for example, you may associate the scent of lavender with hard work and short summers.
Experiment with different essential oils or incense to find scents that work with your body.
Or, create a new association. If you burn eucalyptus oil during every full moon, you will quickly associate that scent with the full moon and attune your energy accordingly.
7. Experiment with lucid dreaming.
If you experienced lucid dreaming, you know it.
So if you’re not sure, then you haven’t. I promise.
It is amazing and the best part is, you can totally train yourself to do it.
Lots of great books explore the art of lucid dreaming. As always, I encourage you to look for them at your local library.
But if you are more of a couch-shopper, my personal favorite is Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.
8. Try a cold bath.
Again, not for everyone, especially if you suffer from conflicting health concerns.
But just a few minutes in a cold bath heightens the mind-body connection.
My recommendation is to not get in inch-by-excruciating-inch. Just force yourself to go in, and then spend a few minutes mentally going from head to toe, relaxing all the muscles (which will instinctively tense up).
This exercise forces a direct awareness of the mental control you have over your body.
9. Practice deep breathing.
Someone once said to me, “You can’t breath deeply and be anxious at the same time.”
I carry this bit of wisdom with me to this day.
Breath is an interesting intersection of the mind and body.
Most bodily functions are either voluntary or involuntary.
But breath is both.
Whenever you feel anxious or stressed, take a moment to slow and deepen the breath. All kinds of reactions take place as a result, including lowered blood pressure, slowed heart-rate and reduced stress.
10. Align your mind-body.
While Westerners tend to think of “working out” as a purely physical exercise, all workouts demand mental strength.
Some workouts, like yoga, pilates and tai chi, specifically address mental and spiritual well-being.
If you hit the gym on the regular (or want to start), consider taking up a workout that aims to harmonize mind and body. Work with your spirit, not against it!