The “mind-body” connection. It can help you stay grounded in stressful times. It can help you feel more at home in your own body. It can help you think better. And it can create the kind of holistic integration in your body that allows for exceptional physical performance, or an astonishing capacity for healing.
What the heck is it though? I’m sure there are many enlightened people out there who could give you a much more learned definition. On this, I can only go from my own experience. The “mind-body” connection is clearest and most accessible to me when my body, my mind, my emotions and my spirit are all playing well together at the same time. For me, it’s a grounding experience. It creates space in my world, breath in my body and room in my heart and spirit to really be myself. Because, let’s face it, for a lot of people, myself included, there’s often way too much chatter going on inside (physically, emotionally AND mentally).
Sometimes, in searching for the mind-body connection, you can get so caught up in reaching the goal that the connection you’re trying to find becomes elusive. It slips right though your fingers. And here’s the problem: I think that many people try to compartmentalize themselves.
There’s a physical you... which requires a certain kind of attention. You look after that and then…
There’s an emotional you… which requires a different kind of nurturing. You do what you need to support that, and then…
There’s an intellectual you… which you feed appropriately and then move on to the next thing… and then…
There’s a spiritual and/or energetic you… which you look after in whatever way suits you best.
But guess what? You’re MORE than the sum of your parts. These “pieces” of you don’t work in isolation. Each piece will have an effect on all the others – whether you choose to acknowledge it or not!
It’s a little like your physical body. Over the last several hundred years, anatomists got very good at surgically dissecting bodies to discover where the muscles attach, and what their respective individual actions are. Fitness professionals took that information and taught millions of people how to work those individual muscles; and we all got pretty good at “strengthening” these isolated parts of ourselves; thinking we were building strength in the whole body. In recent years, people have realized that the body doesn’t function with individual muscles working in isolation, and that working out that way really doesn’t build sustainable, functional strength in the whole body. The fitness industry is slowly coming around…
This is the case for the mind-body connection too. You are MORE than the sum of your parts. All these parts exist together, much like a hologram. There’s no conveniently separating them out. Like a hologram, there will be “shades” of colour and experience that shift and change over time. But they all exist together in space and time, supporting each other, challenging each other and actively creating WHO YOU ARE at any given moment.
Your mind-body connection is an EMBODIED PRESENCE. You don’t have to DO. Simply BE.
The next time you go to the gym or take part in a physical activity that for you has some GOAL attached to it, check in with yourself before you start. Are you tired? Did you have a fight with your spouse this morning? Did you just see your baby walk for the first time? Are you hungry or over-fed? Is there stress at work?
You don’t have to solve any of these things, or wallow in them – just acknowledge them. How does your body feel in this moment? Is your brain pre-occupied? Where do you feel your emotions in your body? Let those things live in your body – however they appear for you. And as you prepare to “work” your body, make a conscious choice NOT to stow those feelings away. Allow them to colour your physical work in the moment. Stay present. Feel what you feel, and move forward. It will change the feel of your workout. But if you acknowledge fatigue, stress, emotions etc. and figure out how to play with them, you may find you have more in the tank than if you had just pushed through refusing to allow them to interfere. Heck, you might even find something new.
If you’re tired, emotional, mentally stressed, spiritually depleted – allow those things to have a place to live in your body. They won’t take over. Instead, you’re likely to find that the other “parts of you” help to nourish the part that needs a little love. Be who you are, feel what you feel. And then do what you do. You’ll feel more connected to yourself, and to the people and the world around you. So get out of your head and FEEL. No analysis, no stories, no excuses.
Be who you are, feel what you feel and do what you do.
Here’s link to a 2-minute video where I talk about my views on Movement & Connection: Susannah Steers talks about Movement & Connection
How do you feel about it? Let me know by leaving a comment below!