The Mind-Body Connection: Practical Application for Self-Healing

A man cannot do good in one area of his life

whilst attempting to do wrong in another area.

Life is one continuous whole .

Mohandas Gandhi


As our title, "Mind-Body Connection" suggests, this series is about the connection between your mind and body. Actually this description is misleading because the mind and body don't need to be connected. They are in reality two inseparable aspects of the same thing. The only place they ever appear separately is in language and concept. In the real world you never see a mind or a body separately, one without the other.

It would be more accurate still to speak of yourself as being composed of several inseparable aspects: the mental, emotional, and physical. These are even more inseparable than your circulatory system, your muscular system, and your skeletal system. They are all inseparable parts of one whole "you".

Our intention in this lesson is to make the distinction between the reality of your "mind-body" unit and our cultures concepts of "mind" and "body" as separate entities, even more apparent for you.

Let us begin with this visual illustration. Picture a wheel with a hub and several large spokes. "You" are the hub, the spokes are your thoughts, emotions and physical senses. The tire on the wheel is the "reality" you experience. i.e., Your job, spouse, finances, body, food, dreams, movements, T.V., everything you experience. The only way this "reality" is ever perceived by "you" is as some combination of physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings.

You are the experiencer, the one who dwells at the hub. You experience your "reality" or "life" through these three aspects of your perception. You do not actually experience other people, or food, or events directly. When you perceive any aspect of "reality," you are actually experiencing some combination of your physical, mental, and emotional perceptions of that "reality".

With this visual model in mind we are now going to examine a variety of useful insights and practical applications of this model to improving your health.

Look into your experience and see if you ever have a purely physical experience, without thinking and feeling something at the same time. Or do you ever have a purely mental experience without physical and emotional aspects? At all times, all three of these aspects of yourself are active. The "you" who is at the center may choose to give greater attention to one or the other of these aspects of your experience, however, all are active at all times.

The reason some experiences seem to be strictly physical, while others appear strictly mental or strictly emotional, is because we, consciously or unconsciously, give our attention to that one aspect more than the others. If you will observe your experiences more closely you will see that each moment includes physical, mental, and emotional components. This recognition that every experience is a combination of mental, emotional, and physical has enormous practical applications for you.

Consider addictive or compulsive behaviors such as smoking, drinking or eating sweets. These may, on the surface, appear to be primarily physical activities. However, you are also experiencing "eating sweets" as an internal dialogue of thoughts and as various feelings/emotions. It is impossible to be otherwise. At first your mental emotional activity may be largely unconscious to you. However, with practice you can become aware of what you are thinking and feeling at the times you are physically "eating sweets". It may amaze you to discover that you are just as addicted to the patterns of thinking and feeling as you are to the physical act.

You can remarkably improve your ability to "control" or change your 'physical" actions (which in turn will change your physical results, such as your illnesses) by deliberately bringing your attention into the other aspects of your experience. In the case of eating, drinking, and smoking for example the physical action is often done while your mind or emotions are involved in other activities such as TV, music, reading, driving, socializing etc. By simply bringing the thinking and feeling aspects of yourself into the present activity you will find available to you a level of control that before was not possible.  As you relax and consciously direct your attention to the quality of your internal activities you will find your external physical actions change much more quickly and easily.

To use a personal example, I used to compulsively overeat at night after dinner. For years I was unable to "control" this activity. One evening, as I was sitting and eating some licorice that I knew would produce results I would regret the next day, it occurred to me to try a new approach.

Since I knew I was going to eat the licorice and I believed that I could not/would not stop myself, I decided that I would forget about trying to change what I was doing physically. I surrendered to eating the licorice. I promised myself however that I would not also injure myself mentally and emotionally with a shaming, self-critical internal dialogue. In fact, I chose to speak to myself with respect and care at the exact same time as I was physically engaged in an act that I knew was harmful to me. I vowed that eating poorly would no longer be a rationalization for attacking my character. Throughout the time I ate I said, "Charley, you are a good man. I love you and I respect you. You are good for even wanting to care for yourself and you are going to win at this." And I went on and on with whatever I could think of that felt great to me. After implementing this new mental "diet" I found that within three days I had changed my physical diet as well. I no longer overate at night and it was easy and natural. A healing accomplishment I had not been able to 'force" myself to do in at least five years of efforts to discipline myself by focusing on my physical actions.

By expanding the scope of your attention from primarily one aspect of your experience to include all aspects (the "whole") of your experience you access much greater power for healing your sick parts and behaviors. As you bring your caring attention to the whole of your experience, you will find your body more whole and your actions will become more accurate expressions of the whole of you (i.e. you heal).

In line with this discussion you may find it interesting to know that the word "health" is derived from the root word "Whoelthe" which is also the root word for "Whole" and "Holy". To "heal" is to become "whole" and the power to "heal" is truly "Holy".


Mind-Body Connections   Practical Exercises:

1.   Choose a dietary change you want to make such as not drinking coffee or reducing your intake of sugar or eating food with less salt or salads and with less dressing. Apply the same process as Charley did to eating licorice.

Make no attempt to change the physical activity. You are only to change the way in which you talk to yourself and therefore your feelings and emotions during the activity and observe what happens in your experience. Do this consistently around one activity for at least one week.

2.  Select an activity that you usually do in a more hurried fashion than you would ideally like, such as driving, walking, cooking, eating, shaving, dressing. Take five minutes a day and while you are hurrying deliberately speak to yourself, preferably out loud, in a manner that is respectful, caring and dignifying.

Be sure to speak to yourself about the way you would like to perform this activity and how doing this would benefit you if you were to do it consistently. Speak about how much you want to do this, speak with assurance and certainty of your ability to do this.

While speaking, resist any attempt to change your physical actions or slow your pace unless it is completely natural and comfortable. The purpose of this is to observe the effect on your physical actions and perceptions when you focus on changing the nonphysical aspects of your experience.  In addition to observing the effects on your eating or hurried movements notice other physical changes as well.  For example, in your level of muscular tension, pain or other bodily sensations, your breathing, the taste of what you are eating, sounds around you, what you are noticing visually.