Cultivating a Positive Mind-Body Relationship

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What if you had a longtime friend who never listened to you?  Every conversation was about them and their agenda. Most times they were ignoring, judging, or telling you what to do. Even when you felt sick or in pain, they resented having to slow down and take care of you. Believe it or not, this may describe your mind’s relationship with your body.

Even though you recognize the importance of a positive mind-body relationship, your thoughts, words, and actions may say otherwise. When your dominant mind sees your body as a tagalong- something it needs to monitor, boss, indulge, or override- you end up in a one-way relationship with little mutual understanding or trust. What if you could change your mind and interact with your body as an intelligent friend and valued partner.

cultivate positive mind body relationshipImage by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay

It’s easy to make the case that how you think determines how you feel. A piece of disturbing news gets stuck in your physiology and you’re out of sorts all day long. Personal or professional worries show up in shoulder tension and stomach jitters. Attitude effects both performance and outcome. Optimism feels light; pessimism feels heavy. Self-image influences posture, emotional turmoil saps energy, and stress undermines rest. Simply put, your body is listening to your mind. But, is your mind listening to your body?

When your primary attention is devoted to figuring things out or plugged in to media, your nonverbal body gets overlooked. To shift this dynamic, you’ll need to spend some quality time in physical space. To get started, change the channel from word-dominant thinking to experience-centered feeling. In other words, turn off the iPhone, sit in a shady nook for a wee bit, and tune in to your senses.  Shift from the busy-ness of your day to how your body feels in order to anchor your awareness in the moment. To do this, feel your feet touching the ground and the rhythmic motion of your breath. Close your eyes and notice the distinct sounds, smells and quality of light that let you know it’s summertime. Stay in this space for a bit and let your body show you a thing or two.

Giving your body your full attention helps you see things from your body’s point of view. As you go through your day, tune in to your internal dialogue now and then to assess your mind-body relationship. You might be surprised to hear what your mind is saying about your body. Some key times to listen in are: whenever you look in the mirror, stumble over a curb, struggle with a yoga pose, or discover that last year’s clothes feel a little snug.  You can also catch some pretty juicy self-talk when going to or from an important meeting or romantic rendezvous. Don’t be dismayed if you hear unkind, critical or disrespectful things. This is simply an opportunity to reprogram the self-talk and turn it around. Be diligent. Every single time you catch yourself bossing or dissing or judging your body, counter the negatives with something loving and supportive…something you’d say to a dear friend.  It may sound corny at first but, changing the self-talk builds trust and trust is an essential part of a good mind-body relationship.

Why not initiate a personal #BodyToo movement to give your body some respect and equal billing? This is important because, as research now confirms, your body is the other half of your intelligence. And, when your smart mind and smart body work together, they are quite a team. For example, listening to your intelligent body helps you evaluate your health and happiness profile. Certain foods and behaviors either work for you or not. Paying attention to how you feel helps you make good decisions and access intuition. And, tuning in to your body helps quiet the mind for spiritual practice. The more you explore, the more you’ll appreciate the powerful potential of cultivating a positive mind-body relationship.

I’ve used the above exercises in my therapy practice over the years to help people access their best self.  Whether addressing physical or emotional issues, a positive mind-body relationship, it changes everything. Now, instead of being at odds, your mind and body can be trustworthy allies in an adventure of a lifetime.

 

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Ann Brode
Ann Todhunter Brode is a body therapist and recognized master in her field. For over 50 years she has worked with people to help them understand and feel comfortable in their bodies. In addition to her acclaimed meditation CD, Body Breath (available on Amazon and iTunes), Brode writes a Body Wise column for The Montecito Journal as well as short pieces for Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and other online resources. You can find her book, A Guide to Body Wisdom- What Your Mind Needs to Know About Your Body (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018) through your local bookstore, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. She’s currently working on her next book of body wisdom for kids.

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