Beginners Guide: The Mind-Body Connection

(Want to listen instead? Find the Mind-Body Mindful Masterclass recording here)

Now more than ever, as a collective society, we need to understand the power of our mind-body connection to begin addressing and changing our mental, physical and emotional health.

Most of the time people disassociate their mind from their body. This occurs when you are so in your head, you become entangled and one with your thoughts.

Individuals often struggle with dissociating their mind and thoughts, from their body. Which creates the feeling of living in your “head”.

The path towards healing begins by recognizing that the mind and body are one, and befriending this mind-body connection.

The Blurred Line Between Biology and Psychology

Before diving into the biology and psychology, let’s first distinguish the difference between the mind and body.   

  • The mind
  • The body
    • Our physical beings, perceived and felt by thoughts (this will make more sense soon).
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Many people forget the powerful connection and control that our mind has over our body. Let me remind you.

Try this simple exercise from How to do the Work by Dr. Nicole Lepera.

“Close your eyes. Picture a lemon. See it’s glossy yellow skin. Hold it in your hands. Feel its ridges. Put it in by nose, imagine it’s clean scent hitting your nostrils. Now imagine slicing a wedge from the lemon. Watch the juice jump out at you as you cut through the flesh. Now put that lemon wedge in your mouth. Your lips meeting on contact. Taste the acidity, the cool citrus, the freshness. Does your mouth pucker up with saliva? The mere thought of a lemon can provoke an entire sensory response. You’ve just experienced a mind-body connection.”

We are the only creatures on earth who can change our biology by what we think and feel.

The power to alter our biology solely by our psychology is the basis for the mind-body connection. This is scientifically possible due to electro-chemical reactions, when neurons release a chemical in the brain that is transported by neurotransmitters.

Ever hear of the term, “my neurons are firing”? That is where it came from.

When we have a thought, we have a chemical that goes along with these thoughts. We have receptors for these chemicals in brain cells and in all the cells in our body.

Scientists are still not certain on the direct source of thought, but they do know that once the chemical is released neurotransmitters carry it throughout our bodies, impacting our cells that affect our immunity, mood, sleep, stress, disease state and so on.

The Focus on Neurons

Every time we have a thought, neurons fire and we have a reaction (behaviors and actions) to that thought which develops into automatic patterns. Therefore every time our mind finds itself presented with that thought again, we subconsciously resort to a pre-programmed reaction.

When we are in situations multiple times, our brain automatically fires the same neurons resulting in the same reactions. That’s what causes us to have such trouble unlearning certain behaviors we feel “stuck in.”

Therefore, if we want to change our reactions we have to be mindful of our thoughts that get our brains to fire different neurons that can then change our behaviors.

The Root of Intuition

Think about the classic terms you have heard your whole life, “trust your gut,” “there’s a pit in my stomach,” or “there’s a lump in my throat.” These terms reflect moments in the life of extreme emotion; no matter how hard we try to avoid these emotions in our head, our bodies are preventing us from avoiding them.

As we mentioned, every thought you have is creating a chemical reaction (neurons firing) in your body which can impact your body on a cellular level and physical level causing these physical reactions. For example when you say you have a gut feeling, your gut is creating neurochemicals that regulate psychological and mental functions within the brain.

That is the science of intuition. It is your body giving your mind messages signaling fear, pleasure, etc, in the form of comfort or discomfort.

When you say your heart is heavy with sadness, your heart is literally flooded with sad chemicals. Feel like you are bursting with joy? Your body is flooded with happy, stress-relieving chemicals. 

Mastering Your Body’s Chemistry

So what this all means above is that we can control the TYPE of chemicals released in our body by our THOUGHTS.

When you have happy thoughts you produce antidepressant brain chemicals and anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer chemicals. The anti-chronic disease and anti-inflammatory drugs that people spend tens of thousands of dollars on can be naturally produced in your own body with your thoughts and mindset. How crazy is that?!

The Science

The mind-body connection gets a bad rap. Individuals tend to group it with the “fluffy” and “unscientific” world of mediation, yoga, and mindfulness culture- far from the science-backed evidence people believe and trust.

Unfortunately, Western medicine is constrained by the belief that the mind and body are separate entities, and has long deemed the connection “unscientific”. This had resulted in Western medical practices heavily relying on treatments targeting the body separate from the mind, rather than the whole being.

Yet, in the past ten years scientists have discovered extensive evidence proving that “there is no difference between mental health and physical health,”  according to Lea Davis, who studies the mind-body connection at Vanderbilt University.

Influence of the Placebo Effect

As we mentioned, the mind can produce measurable changes in the body and the placebo effect is proof of this fact.

This is often seen in studies researching depression, when participants receive sugar pills they believe are antidepressants, they report a drastic improvement in their emotions and mood.

In a study at the University of Glasgow, researchers told 15 runners that they were being administered doping drugs and then asked them to run in a race. The runners’ pace times increased significantly, even though they were getting only saline injection.

When our body expects to get better, it sends out messages to start the healing process. Hormones, immune cells, and neurochemicals are all released.

The placebo effect provides scientific proof that when we believe we’re going to get better, we often do.

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The Significance of Stress

People hate to hear it, but it’s true; stress takes a significant toll on the body. Because, as we now know, negative thoughts physiology and physically impact our body, negatively.

When you experience constant stress and fail to address the cause, your body remains in a state of stress defense, preventing your central nervous system from relaxing fully.

This causes a rush of hormones and chemicals released throughout your body that leads to an upset stomach, indigestion, inflammation, nausea, diarrhea, stomach aches and other unpleasant side effects.

Over time, this overdrive of your central nervous system will lead to intense inflammation, leading to many other serious medical issues.

Our body tries to communicate with us when it is stressed through symptoms such as:

  • Change in appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • General aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low libido
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss

The issue these days is that instead of addressing the stress, we take Advil for our back pain, take appetite suppressants for our increased hunger, take laxatives for our constipation, take sleep medication for our insomnia… and so on.

We put a bandaid on all of these symptoms instead of holistically resolving them from their ROOT CAUSE.

When symptoms emerge, we manage them by treating them. Instead of listening to them. After all, symptoms are the body’s way of communicating with us, yet most individuals constantly seek to silence them.

And in the process of suppressing symptoms, we often suffer new unpleasant side effects. This puts us in a never-ending stress cycle.

Connecting Back to Biology and Psychology

According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, through each year, your body replaces 98% of its atoms. Every 6 weeks, your body generates a whole new liver. Each day, your body generates 500 billion skin cells.

Through utilizing the mind-body connection, you have the power to constantly be changing your body’s biology.

Ready to make the change? Begin with these exercises to strengthen the mind-body connection transform our biological and physical body:

  1. Top down, bottom up
  2. Healing the gut
  3. Healing sleep
  4. Healing with breath
  5. Healing with play
  6. Healing with meditation
  7. Healing with movement
  8. EDMR Therapy

In our next blog and training, we will go into more detail about these exercises and how we can begin to transform our biological and physical body through our mind-body connection.

Moving Forward

One more note to consider from Deepak Chopra, who stated, “Only 10% of happiness depends on the situation, circumstance, and what’s happening in the world… 80% is dependent on how we see the world and what we interpret as a problem or a disaster.”

The better relationship you have with yourself, both within your head and with your body, directly influences your ability to live a more fulfilling life.

Ready to begin that journey to connecting back to yourself? It all starts with the Wellpower Method. The Wellpower Method incorporates mindfulness into a holistic approach to your relationship with food and yourself.

Start having a more fulfilling life, and schedule a free discovery call with Gabrielle today.

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Hello I'm

Gabrielle!

I’m a virtual 1:1 Dietitian Nutrition coach who provides you with the highest level of accountability and support to quit dieting, find peace with food, fuel your body, unlearn unwanted behaviors, embody new habits and reach sustainable weight loss goals. 

Through the Wellpower Method, you will: