Mindfulness – how the mind and body are connected
Mens sana in corpore sano – “a healthy mind in a healthy body”, so the Romans said, and it turns out they were on to something.
As we have explored in previous blogs, mindfulness is about making your mind present in the activity in which you are currently engaged. One of the key messages we are going to look at in this article is the important role of the body when it comes to emotional and physical well-being.
To explore this idea further, let us look at the process of eating. We have seen before how eating is a good starting point when practising mindfulness: by concentrating on the way food tastes, feels and smells, we can truly experience what it’s like to be in the moment.
When we think about food, particularly food we enjoy, we may salivate and swallow. This shows how the mind has thoughts which then have an effect on the body. Think of a food you really enjoy: fish and chips, say, and you will notice how your mouth begins to water.
This shows that the mind-body connection is in fact much stronger than many of us believe. Not only is imagination powerful, our thoughts and emotions stimulate the production of certain chemicals that influence our physical and emotional health.
This shows how the mind-body connection is actually supported by science, so it will now be useful to consider other ways in which these things are closely linked.
When we feel mental stress, our body reacts. A tense mental situation – a tricky meeting, say – can cause us to hold that tension in our bodies and release certain chemicals. When we are not in touch with our bodies, we become detached from them. Left unchecked, these stress-related symptoms can cause digestive problems like ulcers or a rise in blood pressure.
How mindfulness helps the body
We all encounter stressful situations, it’s what keeps life interesting, so the answer to all of this is not to avoid life’s challenges. But it is important to address the physical side-effects of stress and make sure the body doesn’t suffer in the long run. Mindful meditation helps us to reconnect with the body and recognise some of the signs of stress or tension.
Signs of stress to look out for
Tightness in the neck of shoulders; jaw or fists that are inexplicably clenched during the day, these are all signs of built-up stress which is starting to affect the body. Mindfulness allows us to tune into the messages from our bodies which if left unrecognised over many years can be very harmful and lead to poor health. It allows us to reconnect with the part of us that we may forget – the body – and listen to what it is telling us. Many people are not in touch with their body and can even actively dislike it, whether that’s because of how it looks or works.
But we all have the body that we have and it’s time to listen to it again. Mindful meditation is a safe, fulfilling practice that anyone can do. Why not find out more today about what it could do for you?