This is a six-part series covering the vast and expansive subject of Mind Body Connection.
The mind body connection can sometimes be compared to the famous chicken-egg analogy… What came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, what came first or comes first in one’s life — the mind or the body or are the mind and body one? Good question!
In the study of psychology, moreover hypnosis, it’s important to surmise the effect and interaction one plays on the other. It’s a wonderful way to examine and explain the effect each component has on one’s health and healing process.
Furthermore, it’s interesting to also note the effect each part plays in illness and disease. Interestingly, when you look at the word “disease”, it is comprised of two words, “dis” and “ease”.
In this instance, the mind body connection is out of whack or in a state of dis-ease!
The mind body connection study has been going on since the beginning of time, or at least since the dawning of man’s intelligent, critical mind. Both Plato and Aristotle, ancient philosophers believed when one examines the philosophy of the mind, one’s intelligence which in their belief system is also the mind and the soul, could not be explained in terms of the physical body. They believed they were separate entities.
More modern philosophers like Rene Descartes believed the mind/consciousness was to be distinguished from the brain (physical body). Furthermore, their philosophies gave rise to dualism—the relationship between mind and matter, or in this case the mind body connection.
It wasn’t long after Descartes time that psychology became its own science and divorced itself from philosophy. Much of what psychology strived to achieved was quantifiable research and data which philosophy never endeavored in. Psychology developed its own set of assumptions and research standards to try and explain the mind body connection. They came up with a wonderful branch of psychology called “neuropsychology”. From this branch, came a more intense study of the mind body connection… NEUROPSYCOIMMUNOLOGY—
Try saying that fast ten times! Perhaps both the mind body connection might appear to have some great difficulties making the connection — Mind (being able to read the word) and Body (tongue-being able to pronounce it).
The study of how the mind affects health and disease in the body became the hallmark of this specific area of study. To simplify matters and make the study of this area of psychology easier, the overall study of the mind body connection in psychology has become known as PSYCOSOMATIC. When you break down this word into two parts, you get Psycho (Mind) and Soma (body).
Much of the research and studies in psychosomatics have been applied to psychology and stress management to help individuals better understand the role their mind plays in their health and/or their illness. Perhaps psychosomatic studies can best be described as an inroad to truly understanding the mind body connection. As a matter of fact, today one of the major catch phrases in health studies is holistic wellness — the mind body connection and how it leads one toward achieving optimal health.
Hans Selye was one of the pioneers in the field of stress management and the role the mind has affecting the body when experiencing adverse stressors. He demonstrated the mind body connection where he demonstrated how an individual’s mind copes with and adapts to the pressures exerted on them through injury and disease. What role does the mind play in the experience? Selye created his famous theory which is highly regarded today — General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
The key tenet of general adaptation syndrome (GAS) is that physical symptoms are perpetuated in the body as a by-product of the mind responding to stress. Incidentally, he found that most physical symptoms posed in the bodies of these individuals were very similar to others experiencing the same kinds of stress. There was a definite mind body connection occurring!
When you get stressed out, do you ever suffer from headaches, stiff or sore neck, aching back, heavy shoulders, clenched jaw or nausea? Welcome to the world of stress! In almost all of these situations, the precipitators causing physical ailments for individuals is STRESS!
Interestingly, these stress experiences and reactions people experience are common across generations and the globe. Stress does not discriminate in how it affects the body. It would appear there is a universal mind body connection which unconsciously stimulates how people experience stress. In today’s world, the conscious mind has accepted distress (the bad kind of stress) as a lifestyle. Furthermore, the unconscious mind has accepted the physical ailments and discomforts as part of “living”!
Perhaps the greatest living testament to the mind body connection was Viktor Frankl, MD, Ph.D. Frankl was a survivor from Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. Watching people around him die each day at the hands of the Nazi’s, Frankl wondered why he was “mentally stronger” than his fellow prisoners. From his horrid experiences in the camps, he developed a psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live, even in the most horrendous circumstances.
Frankl’s bestselling book Man’s Search for Meaning has sold in excess of 10 million copies around the world. The book offers hope. It is based on Frankl’s application of his own theories about the mind body connection. Frankl posed the famous question, “How was everyday life in a concentration camp and how was it reflected in the mind of average prisoners?” The answer: Horrific enough to make you want to die! And most did!
Why not Frankl? He learned the concept of hope and positive thinking in response to being a captive and facing the atrocities of the Nazis. Basically, you can torture/kill the body, but you can’t break the human spirit (the mind). It was at this point Frankl truly got “it” when he watched others around him dying, but not himself. Why was that? He accepted that he was the master of his mind and would not allow the Nazis to destroy his mind. He held onto hope. This hope kept him faithful and strong. His ability to process the mind body connection made him a survivor!
Obviously the example of Victor Frankl is an extreme one, but perhaps one of the most important examples for explaining the relation of the mind body connection.
Today we see examples of this mind body connection on a regular basis but don’t make the “connection” to iconic innovators such as Seyle and Frankl. Instead, we are amused and intrigued when we see individuals walk on fire/hot coals, put pins/sharp objects through their bodies, or are able to slow their heart rate down completely to resemble a near dead person.
But how is this possible?
These people have mastered the mind body connection. They have come to the realization to quote George Costanza from one of the most famous episodes of the hit TV show Seinfeld, they are “The masters of their domain.” The body cannot do anything or respond without the underpinnings of the mind. When the mind acts on the body, the body reacts. This reaction can be likened to “feedback” demonstrating to the mind that the body is working.
The mind is definitely a powerful tool to use, misuse or waste because it controls you — what you think, feel, act and become…who you are this moment!
In order to truly apply the benefits of the mind body connection to your life, you need to first understand and accept what you are currently is the result of your thinking. If you go there in the mind, then you will most likely go there in the body! Why don’t more people “go there”? This can best be summed up by discipline, or lack of it!
Do you ever wonder why some people are good at almost everything they do or try, or why they are so successful? The answer is focus. Most people understand that the body is just that — a body and nothing without the mind. The body is like the car but it can’t move without the mind, which is its keys. And once the keys are put in the ignition, you are capable of going in almost any direction.
Unfortunately, most people choose the same road — the low road… bad habits, addiction, negative thinking and pessimism.
How is it that successful thinkers are able to “think” outside the box? Why does “life” seem to work for them and not others who try? Simply, they are actors instead of reactors in the mind body connection.
Discipline and concentration are the keys for understanding and working the mind body connection. You realize your mind is your primary mover or catalyst which has the complete abilities to take you where you want to go. How is this achieved? It is best achieved through tunnel vision, a heightened state of awareness, highly focused thinking — HYPNOSIS!
Individuals who are the most successful masters of their minds use hypnosis. Since all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, individuals have access to this tool whenever they need it. Like anything, it’s a skill which requires practice and dedication. As long as you have a body and are conscious, then you can influence the mind body connection you possess!
Think about this for a moment. If you think about raising your arm and order your brain to do it, your arm will raise. Feedback (arm raised) demonstrates the process has worked.
Now what about when you are feeling happy or sad? When you are happy, you feel strong and powerful. When you feel sad, your body feels heavy and sluggish. In this case the biofeedback is feelings. Mind body connection shows you thought something, it made you feel a certain way and your body took on the traits. This is how stress affects your body. This is a good thing to know because if your mind can cause negative thoughts leading to physical stress, it can also create good thoughts leading to positive, happy feelings!
A good hypnotherapist can help you retrain your thinking and allow you to garner a greater sense of control over your very own mind body connection. The master key for making the process work is concentration and control which translates into controlled thinking. Did you know that we have on average 60,000 thoughts per day? That’s a lot! What’s ultimately more startling, it’s estimated that 48,000 of these thoughts are the recurrent, negative, non-productive thoughts we have day in and day out.
Hypnosis is a tool which has been used to aid and assist the mind body connection. Often times, the ones most successful using the process do not even know they are doing it because it has become a regular skill. Some call it perpetual positive thinking while others call it thought monitoring.
However way you slice it, at the root of it all is self-hypnosis. They have trained the mind to focus on the thoughts they want and these thoughts will take them in the direction they want to go in — a positive one!
In hypnosis, individuals are taught to enhance their concentration skills through learning relaxation exercises to quiet the mind. Skills are taught to displace and dissociate from negative thinking patterns thus creating new cognitive scripts for thinking. By retraining the mind and thought process, hypnosis helps the brain create new neural pathways for thought… good, healthy ones!
The way we think becomes embedded into our unconscious over years of repetition. Our thought processes become like grooves on a record, the needle always finds them. In this case, the mind is the needle that finds the thoughts, whether they are positive or negative. In the mind body connection, since the mind has the ability to affect the body with its thoughts, you would want good thoughts to create a healthy body. This is achieved through establishing a healthy mindset through creating new grooves the mind can find.
Hypnosis helps create these grooves!
How we think really affects how we feel. No doubt there is an intense mind body connection. The most important thing to consider is the connection can be strong irregardless of whether it is positive or negative.
When it comes to overall health, a positive connection will go a long way!
Read Part II of series Mind Body Connection – Mind Over Matter here.
Read Part III of series Mind Body Connection – Thinking, Feeling, and Becoming here.
Read Part IV of series Mind Body Connection – Seeing is Believing here.
Read Part V of series Mind Body Connection – The Power of Suggestion here.
Part VI of series Mind Body Connection – Putting it All Together here.
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