Written by Nigel Ford
You’ve probably heard holistic therapists, counselors, or everyday individuals talk about the mind-body link in recent years. By now it’s fairly common knowledge that we need to address the health of both the mind and body – but what exactly is implied by this? And what is the mind-body link?
The Mind and Body Are Not Separate
According to reductionist theory and modern science, the mind and the body can be seen as separate entities. The mind, which deals with thought, processes emotion, and works with logic, is one part of the system. The body, on the other hand, deals with purely biological functions: digestion, immunity, and so on.
It doesn’t take much to see that this theory is seriously outdated. We’ve known for years that there is a connection between mental and physical health. Stress, for example – which is even today acknowledged by many as a mental problem – has a number of immediate and long-term physical effects ranging from increased blood pressure to an increased chance of getting diseases.
Emotions and Somatic Symptoms
We all experience emotions.
These emotions carry powerful energy with them. If this energy is released, then the emotion is generally cleared out of the system immediately. If the emotion is suppressed, on the other hand – such as what happens when a person experiences something traumatic – it doesn’t simply go away. It’s stored in the body, where it can create psychosomatic illness.
Psycho (relating to the mind or mental state) somatic (related to the body) illness can occur when people do not have a proper outlet for their emotions, or when repeated emotional stress starts to wear down on the body.
Understanding this is key to understanding why so many seemingly healthy people develop dis-ease or illness. While there are undoubtedly purely physical conditions, such as bacterial or viral infections, many people begin to develop diseases as a result of suppressed emotion.
When people live without understanding the impact of the mind on the body (and vice versa), it’s easy to blame problems on something external. However, this lack of understanding has led to the difficulties that we currently see in the Western allopathic medical system. People are prescribed medication to cover up the symptoms of physical and mental conditions without actually taking the time to understand why these conditions developed in the first place.
Holistic Mind-Body Work
Fortunately, there are lots of practices that work with both the mind and the body. Practices that treat these two seemingly disparate things like an integrated circuit are known as holistic mind-body therapies, and they can be immensely useful for helping to balance and integrate an individual.
- Acupuncture is a practice that has been used for millennia that helps to redirect blocked energy in the body.
- Somato-emotional repatterning can be useful for identifying psychosomatic patterns and the related behaviours or traumatic memories that caused them.
- EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, works in a similar manner as somato-emotional repatterning in that it allows you to identify and eliminate destructive behaviours, memories, or patterns that can impact your physical health.
If you want to develop a deeper understanding of the link between your mind and body, you could consider seeking a trained professional to help you with some mind-body work.