The Mind Body Connection
The magic of your mind body connection!
Something that my Reiki practise and Cognitive Hypnotherapy has in common is a recognition that the mind is a powerful tool that can influence our thoughts, behaviours and even our bodies ability to heal or change in some favourable way. This is commonly referred to as the mind body connection.
If you haven’t experimented with this idea yet I suggest you give it a go, you could be very pleasantly surprised.
When I started thinking about this blog I was thinking in terms of using the mind body connection for healing, but this connection can be used for so many things, such as weight loss, achieving goals, building confidence, public speaking, reducing stress and even giving up smoking or other unwanted habits. So, I thought I would begin with a basic overview of this concept and the evidence of its power.
The concept that the mind and body are connected and able to influence one another, has been around for as long as we have.
It is at the heart of many, if not, all complimentary therapies. Only in relatively recent times has science been able to unravel some of the mysteries of the mind/body connection. The understanding of how our thoughts can affect our health, our bodies and vice versa. Something which is intrinsic in empowering your own natural abilities to heal and make positive changes in your life.
It should be quite obvious to us that the body is affected by our thoughts, though sometimes it is not until we actually sit down and think about it that we realise how true this is. When we have a sad thought we produce tears, a happy, fun thought and we laugh, our bodies shaking and feel good hormones are released. Women for centuries have experienced phantom pregnancies as a result of the intense desire to have a child, producing very noticeable physical symptoms such as an enlarged stomach, the menstrual cycle stopping and morning sickness. Hypochondria is another example of people thinking themselves into manifesting symptoms of illness or disease, when none exists.
“All illness contains a psychological element and often the cause of illness is a blend of psychological and physical elements and even the cultured symptoms are very real to the sufferer” Roger Thies, Professor of Psychology, University of Oklahoma.
Psychosomatic illness is a term that suggests psychological factors contribute to the development of illness, along with other more physical factors. Long periods of stress, anxiety or other negative emotions can contribute to the decline of the immune system and therefore the onset of illness. This fits perfectly with Orr’s law that “What the thinker thinks, the prover proves.” The mind is like two people, one who thinks and then the other who goes out of their way to prove the thinker right. It makes sense then that if our thoughts and emotions can have a negative impact on the body, they can also have a positive effect.
The placebo is another classic example of what we believe to be true having a direct effect on our bodies.
The placebo is a powerful idea that can be utilised in therapy. The placebo works because you expect it to and the person giving the placebo is convincing in their belief that it will do what it is that you need. This is why good rapport and trust between a therapist and a client enhances the effectiveness of the therapy considerably and applies to any type of therapy regardless of the general competency or effectiveness of the therapy or therapist.
The mind body connection is a fascinating and extensive topic. Its premise is particularly useful in therapy because it offers the opportunity to re-take control over our lives and the world we perceive ourselves to be living in. Many of the techniques used in cognitive hypnotherapy provide you with the tools to do just that. They bridge the gap between the unconscious and the conscious and utilise the mind body connection to encourage change.
The most successful examples of mind over matter seem to contain a sense of determination and a clear intention of what it is the person wants to achieve.
The next being able to create that idea in the mind, commonly we use visualisation but telling the story or going with a feeling can work too. Meditation and visualisation are skills that have been used in many therapeutic and spiritual practices for a long time. A guided visualisation is essentially a purposeful meditation. Many masters of these practises have demonstrated the ability to affect change in their physical bodies, such as controlling their heart rate, body temperature and pain. It’s something we can all learn to do for ourselves, like mindfulness and meditation it takes practise on a regular basis. Reminding the unconscious what it is we want to achieve regularly can have a very real impact on your reality.
What we are doing is changing the mental imagery, script or feeling from what we have to what we want.
We can create the change in a literal sense, so seeing a torn muscle heal almost as if you were imagining how it would look in a medical manual, or we can do it in a more metaphorical or symbolic way such as using a healing colour or a symbolic image. The important thing is that you use something that you relate to that makes it easy for you create that change in your mind. As you create that change in your mind you are basically instructing your mind to create that change in your reality. If you think about it your unconscious is designed to do just that, how it instructs our bodies to heal cuts, grow skin, mend bones etc.
If you already practise meditation, then creating a visualisation or story that represents the change you want as part of your meditation can be a very powerful way of working as you place your mind and body into an optimum state for this type of work. If not then learning a simple meditation technique could help you, but it’s certainly not necessary in order to get the benefits of this work. An ideal time to practise using your mind to create change is first thing in the morning after you wake up (especially for achieving goals such as weight loss or giving up habits) or last thing at night before you sleep (especially for healing).
So why not start now with something simple?
In the process of writing this I’ve realised that I’ve been putting up with whip lash symptoms for months without really using what I know consistently to change that. From today I will spend ten minutes focusing on visualising those aching and painful muscles to relax and repair themselves. What simple thing could you start to change? This is a technique that becomes more powerful the more you use it, as belief in your ability to do this will grow with practise and that belief will make your practise even stronger.