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Understanding the Mind-Body Connection

Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach on your first date? Or experienced racing heartbeat when you got caught? Or even goosebumps when hearing ghost stories?

These unforeseen sensations are intriguing, aren’t they?

It’s mind-boggling to comprehend how our thoughts and feelings can positively or negatively impact our biological functioning, which makes it evident: “We” are not just our bodies.

Body

Our bodies have taken shape through physiological, biochemical constituents, and environmental factors, making it a powerful storehouse of immense impressions and energies. “WE” exist in our bodies to experience life and evolve consciously.

But, for our bodies to function efficiently and sustain, we need to follow certain healthy habits, like eating good food, exercising regularly, sleeping well, self-expression, etc. These actions are driven by our emotions, which in turn are controlled by our MIND.

Mind

The mind is a non-physical state of matter which consists of flow of information. Memory, perception, thoughts, reasoning, and attention constitute our mind.

Emotions

Emotions are a natural state of response to our physiological changes. Every day, our bodies are exposed to external and internal stress and experience complex emotions. To cope with the engulfing emotions and survive, our body’s fight, flight and freeze mechanism jumps to the rescue.

Fight, Flight & Freeze Mechanism

Our hormones and neurotransmitters are constantly trying to communicate about any signs of dysfunction or danger occurring internally or externally. But the number of hormones produced, or the neural connections established, depend on our feelings, expectations, and thoughts.

Thoughts

Thoughts influence our desire to act. What we think and believe have the power to either heal or destroy us. Researchers say that an average person has more than 6,000 thoughts a day. But how effectively we process these thoughts and use these to navigate our lives depends on their quality. Continuous positive reinforcement can alter our brain’s circuitry and chemistry, which in turn can change our perception and behavior.

Nutrition

What we consume daily can modify our brain’s chemistry. A person who has nutritional deficiencies tends to have poorer neural connections than the one who eats healthy. Nutrient dense food can help in production and maintenance of “good” bacteria in the gut, which in turn reduces inflammation, elevates moods, and affects the quality of our thoughts.

Illustration of woman meditating with lotus line drawings in background

How do we fuel our brain to optimize its performance?

Mindful eating:

Controlled breathing:

Physical health

Detoxification is as important as consumption. Every day, our body produces tons of toxins in the form of uric acid and other chemicals. It’s important to flush toxins out of the system as soon as possible to prevent physical illness and mental fog.

Along with the biological toxins, our body produces mental toxins in the form of pain, fear and negative thoughts. These toxins can be exterminated by releasing some endorphins, which is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for elevating mood and relieving pain.

How do we detoxify the biological and mental toxins?

Break a sweat

Catch some Zzzzs

Socio-emotional health

Nutrition is not only limited to food. It also involves interaction with self and our relationships. Every day, we’re exposed to irrelevant information and malevolent behaviors, be it through social media, acquaintances, gossip, politics, etc. All these factors can be detrimental to the quality of our thoughts and overall wellness.

How do we address emotional and social well-being?

Protect your energies:

Tune inwards

Seek professional help

Mental health

The difference between emotional and mental health is the effect of cognitive abilities on functioning of the brain. The way we think and feel can affect the way we deal with day-to-day activities. Our ability to manage ourselves, relationships, work, hobbies, stress, and difficult situations and our way of bouncing back from adversity speak volumes about our mental health.

How do we enhance our mental health and achieve peak mental performance?

Hit the brain gym

Mind-body intelligence

Our bodies constantly give internal cues, but most of the time, we are either in denial or disconnected from self. Mostly, we rely on external advice from Google or our friends to check our symptoms without actively listening to what our body is trying to communicate.

If you think you’re actively listening to your internal cues, then take this test.

  1. Write down your internal cues and close your book.
  2. Now, take the below mentioned test and make sure to observe your body without any judgements. Stay true to your feelings.
  3. Take 4 to 5 deep belly breaths.
  4. Release muscle tension.
  5. Count backwards from 30 to 0.
  6. Now, tell yourself “I’m safe here.”
  7. Once you feel safe and comfortable, place your hand on your safe spot; it might be your chest, belly, palm, or face.
  8. Now ask yourself: What are you feeling? Happy, neutral, anxious, sad, disgust, angry? Feel the sensation and rate its intensity on a scale of 10.
  9. Also, remind yourself that you’re in the safest spot and you’re here to listen to your body. There’s nothing to be scared of. All you must do is feel and acknowledge your feelings.
  10. Repeat this process on different spots of your body, from head to toe.
  11. You can try writing it down or marking the spots on a body map.
  12. Say this out loud: “I’m grateful for having a body that helps me fulfil my goals and dreams.”

How did you feel? Were you able to connect with your body?

Compare your results with step 1.

By now, you will have progressed a step ahead in strengthening your mind-body connection.

Mind-body intelligence cannot treat illness by itself, but it can help you become aligned with your inner self, face life’s challenges, build resilience, and assist medical care professionals to treat you better.

Mind-body intelligence is a gateway to achieve overall health and wellness.

Tell us: Which of these practices did you find interesting, and which one will you inculcate in your routine?


Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.

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