How often have you heard someone say something along these lines: “I’m tired because I had too much to drink last night.” Or, “I’m stressed because I didn’t get enough sleep.” Maybe even “I’m depressed because my partner and I broke up.”
A spirit mind body connection is not just a fad concept… there is real science backing this.
The reality is that the body experiences its own emotions and sensations. They can play out in our bodies physically, emotionally, and mentally. The definition of mind body connection is therefore not so clear cut and can be somewhat confusing to understand.
It all comes down to science, biology, psychology, and the way we are interconnected to our physical environments which determine our mental states, and at the same time how our mental states affect our physical reactions.
A very good example to explain the mind body connection would be how mental stress affects us physically.
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Brain Mind body connection science – Our brains on stress
Mind body stress is a real thing. Stress is experienced on both and all planes. Your body is a complex machine full of trillions of cells. Our thoughts, feelings, memories, expectations, beliefs, experiences, and actions shape our bodies.
When stress builds up over time, it can affect us in ways both good and bad. Stress mind body connection could develop as, chronic stress increases cortisol levels (stress hormones) and can increase the risk of heart disease, depression, diabetes, obesity, cancer, stroke, anxiety, headaches, back pain, and fatigue.
On the other hand, managing stress improves mental health, boosts memory and concentration, keeps us from falling ill, and helps prevent premature death.
How does the mind body connection affect our emotions?
When you experience stress, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters (or chemical messengers), such as cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals influence mood, emotional regulation, behavior, and physiological processes. Stress affects every part of our lives and quality of life—from relationships to work performance to happiness. Stress can also negatively impact our health by continuously elevating our stress response and dysregulating our nervous system.
Even though our bodies are controlled by genes and hormones, our thoughts and emotions also play an important role in determining our health. Our moods and mental states often influence our immune systems, metabolic rate, sleep patterns, and even our blood pressure – this is mostly done through the Vagus Nerve.
For example, in some cases when you feel good, you tend to eat well. On the other hand, when you feel bad, you tend to overeat (emotional eating). The brain influences almost every aspect of our lives from sleeping and waking cycles to our appetites, desires, and motivations.
So is there then a way where we can change the nature of our brains, by changing our thought patterns which then relate to how we live.
Which begs the question…
How much of our thoughts and feelings are influenced by outside forces or random chance? Is there such thing as destiny or is our destiny directed by our thoughts that relate to our actions?
The power of mindfulness friends… the power of mindfulness.
Meditation, mindfulness, and the mind-body connection?
People often talk about the benefits of meditation, but they don’t get a clear picture of what it entails. What does it mean for you? How does it affect you? Most importantly how does it affect our mental state and physical bodies?
Meditation is the practice of directing your focus while being in the present moment. It’s believed that it can benefit you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Meditation also gives an insight into oneself through the practice of both introspection and retrospection.
It has long been said that the body and mind are intertwined. Through meditation, people can improve their mental health and even become happier. The relationship between your mind and body is intricate.
Do you believe that your thoughts affect your emotions? Many people think they control their feelings through their thoughts, but it isn’t always true.
The brain processes information using chemicals called neurotransmitters as well as electrical impulses. When these chemicals change, our mood, energy level, or behavior changes. Our minds and bodies are connected in numerous ways, from the way hormones are released to the electrical impulses that move throughout our brains.
This means that our thoughts influence our emotions and vice versa. This can cause problems because people often focus on only one side of the equation without considering the other. For example, someone who thinks negative thoughts will likely experience negative emotional responses. It plays into the idea of “the law of attraction” the energy you put out into the world (whether mental, emotional, or physical) is the same energy you will attract into your life.
In other words, negative thinking leads to negative feelings and behaviors. Conversely, positive thinking can create positive feelings and behavior.
Can meditation change our brains and even improve our memory? Or is it just another fad?
It’s no secret that stress has a negative effect on our health, causing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other disorders. Many studies show that stress increases blood pressure and raises levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes anxiety. Meditation has shown promise in treating depression, anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, insomnia, and many other conditions through managing stress and the way our bodies respond under stress.
How does this work on a biological level?
(1) Mindful meditation practices may change the structure and function of gray matter (the brain’s nerve cells), altering your mood and reducing stress.
(2) These changes may also affect brain activity and boost memory through the release of different neurotransmitters.
Studies on mind body connection
The way the mind and the body affect each other has been studied by scientists in many different ways. The most obvious one is how physical exercise is in fact mental exercise too.
Several different mechanisms by which exercise might impact mental health have been proposed. People who undertake regular physical activity may experience improvements in their mood because they are more active and feel better about themselves. They may achieve this simply through the social contact associated with group activities, or through increased self-esteem due to improved fitness levels and physical appearance.
These people may then be less likely to develop depression or anxiety. Other factors linked to positive affective states include the increased release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), changes in neurotransmitters (such as serotonin), and hormones (like testosterone). Finally, regular physical exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, particularly memory retention and processing speed.
Another thing that has become apparent is the immune system mind body connection. It is our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and doings (as in physical action) that can all be contributing factors to how strong our immune systems are. Ever heard of someone say “I feel like I am getting sick” and then they get sick? Getting sick then means a physical response of body aches, blocked sinuses or disturbed digestive system, etc. A clear indication of our thoughts manifesting within our bodies.
The same thing can go for experiencing mind body connection chronic illness or chronic pain for eg. healing back pain mind body connection or mind body connection pelvic pain.
Our mind is largely determined by the reaction of our pain receptors therefore altering the state of our mind can alter the way we feel physical pain. So people that might have a “higher threshold” just have a slightly different perception linked to feeling pain.
Depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders have also been linked to compromised immune systems.
Do you suffer from digestive issues under stress? Well, this is because there is a gut-brain connection too. Again… every part affects the way the entire mechanism of our body works.
These are all good examples of mind body connections that most people can relate to or have experienced.
Importance of mind body connection
Mind-body-spirit means that our wellness comes not just from physical health, but from mental health and spiritual health as well. To be “healthy,” we must pay attention to all three aspects of our nature. (blogs.cooperhealth.org)
Humans are three-dimensional and we can all attest that living the human experience is a complex and interconnected one. We are greatly influenced by our external environment such as the weather, the country we live in and the way we live, our cultures and social norms, etc.
These external factors all influence our internal experience and how we relate and perceive our environment is directly linked to our emotional and mental wellbeing as it determines the lifestyle and beliefs we tend to follow. Our physical environment, therefore, turns into an internal state of being which further reflects how our bodies physically react and adapt to our environment.
This give-and-take between internal and external is a continuous cycle – a symbiotic relationship.
When we look at our overall health it is a holistic approach that makes the most sense because the way we treat our physical bodies relates to how we treat our mental bodies and vice versa. We cannot concentrate on bettering our physical health without giving attention to our mental health, emotional health, or even spiritual health. It is all one in the same thing.
Practicing something like progressive muscle relaxation, for example, relaxes our minds by relaxing muscle tension.
A simple example can be getting a massage.
A mind body connection massage relaxes our physical muscles through tactile touch as well as relaxes our minds in the environment that facilitates this so that we can let go of our stressors. There is a reason why this can be so effective in making us feel so great because we are showing care to both our minds and bodies.
Flipping that on its head – having a massage within a stressful environment isn’t quite the same because our environment sends certain messages to our brains that communicate a reaction within our bodies. Trying to squeeze in a massage in the middle of your day between meetings really won’t be as effective to destress.
These are the same reasons why mindfulness practices like Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or even some behavioral therapies such as art therapy and dance therapy are very powerful in elevating our wellbeing – our mind and our bodies are in constant communication.
Yoga for mind body connection
Certain types of exercise also have a mindfulness element to them eg. pilates mind body connection or the practice of Yoga.
Yoga uses deep breathing, physical postures, and mindfulness to provide our bodies and minds with a state of calm.
Yoga when looking at physical movement sits apart from the rest. Many people will argue that Yoga is not a form of exercise because of the element of mindfulness or spirituality. Yoga brings us to an introspective state where many forms of exercise are sometimes used to escape our minds – this however does not take away that all forms of exercise, as well as art, can be a form of meditation as it directs our attention to one objection.
The best way to take part in mind body connection training or deepen the mind body connection learning you might already have is to practice Yoga and science backs this up.
Yoga is a union of mind, body, spirit, and soul expression.
We have gotten into a lot of depth with how yoga relates to our brain chemistry and this brain-body connection, so we won’t say too much about it here. Read below if this interests you!
The mind-body-spirit connection might seem slightly complex but when we look at the different aspects of our lives and how they affect each other it makes total sense. Einstein’s theory of relativity – everything relates to everything. What we see on the surface layer is not all there is to consider. Our physical health is largely determined by what is happening within our brains through the mind body connection. A healthy Mind provides a healthy body. So the next time you are suffering from something physical can you reflect where mentally this might have manifested from?