We’ve touched on the the mind-body connection in past blog posts, as we talked about being present while performing work and play activities. But what does paying attention to your body really mean?
First you should understand that the human body is designed in such a way as to be self-sufficient. Much like a computer, our body is constantly monitoring our well-being, scanning the system and making adjustments and recommendations. But like a computer, if you don’t listen to the warning system (error codes, memory to capacity, virus detected etc.) the whole system could crash. All the tools we need to be whole and healthy are contained within the system, right within our grasp, provided that we listen when the body sends out the signal. Body awareness is about tuning in to those messages.
The body’s warning system is also designed to get your attention utilizing pain, tightness, swelling and other indicators, when we are out of balance (the body’s natural state of being.) That is why it’s important to be aware of your body when these signals come up, because pain is not the problem. Pain is only the alert that something is wrong. Figuring out what caused the pain that is the root of the problem and adapting accordingly — the solution.
So Why Do We Tune Out?
Years of marketing over the counter medications may have you believing that if you treat your pain the problem is solved. But that’s a bit like seeing your bathtub overflowing but just shutting the door and going for a walk — just because you can’t see the water spilling onto your floor anymore doesn’t mean your house won’t soon be flooded. If you are out of touch with your body or suppress your symptoms with drugs or some other form of tuning out, your body will have to compromise for that imbalance, which will inevitably lead to further imbalance or dysfunction.
The Mind Body Connection and PNI
Eastern medicine has long known about the mind-body connection. But in recent years, Western science has begun to document the link between such mind-body issues as stress and how it effects heart health and the immune system — acknowledging that what you think and feel can directly affect your body.
Now there is a whole new and exciting field of science developing called Psychoneuroimmunology otherwise known as PNI. PNI explores the relationships between our thoughts and feelings, and our central nervous and immune systems.
PNI studies reported at a conference on “Brain and Immunity” held in Naples, Italy show that Natural Killer (NK) cell activity was reduced in those with high levels of overall stress, meaning lowered immunity for these individuals. Subsequent studies led researchers to suspect that this NK depression is a direct result of person’s response to that stress.
Reducing stress, both emotional and physical stressors, as well as reducing or eliminating those things that cause us to tune out to our body’s messages, can help to improve the body’s overall resilience, immunity and ability to recover.
Getting regular massages is an excellent way to reduce stress and keep in touch with your body, making you aware of where you hold stress and aiding in it’s release, detoxification and recovery.
Contact us to assist you in strengthening your mind-body connection.
For more information on PNI visit the links above, read about some of the recent studies and the science of mind-body connections.