As a MindBody health practitioner, it’s natural that I’m always asked what is MindBody?
In its simplest sense, MindBody is the awareness that mind and body are one and the same. To illustrate the important meaning that is inherent in this awareness, think of the phrase “follow your heart”.
In our western worldview, “follow your heart” is a metaphor to convey the idea that we should do what we feel is right. It doesn’t refer to the physical heart in the centre of the chest, which modern medical science regards as a pump for moving the blood around the body. Rather, the phrase refers to the inspirational heart whose qualities are recognized in ancient texts and common usage alike.
Or does it?
The inspirational heart = the physical heart
In recent years, scientists at the Institute of Heartmath in Boulder, California have shown there is literal truth in the cliche; the heaving lump of muscle that is your heart also contributes to your emotions and the mysterious feeling of intuition in a very real way. Everything from your empathy for another person’s pain to the hunch that someone is being less than honest with you originates from subtle energetic signals in your heart.
In light of these findings (and many others besides), the idea that the mind and body are separate no longer holds up. Suddenly the literal phrase of “following your heart” conveys an embodied meaning. In other words, the inspirational heart and the physical heart are one and the same thing.
The example of broken heart syndrome
Did you know there’s a recognized disorder called broken heart syndrome? It’s a temporary heart condition that can be brought on with stress, most notably the death of a loved one. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack because there’s an accompanying disruption of the heart’s normal pumping function. Suddenly the phrase, “she died of a broken heart” has profound implications.
The problem with treating such things is that conventional medicine is very much in the head. Or if something’s not in the head then it’s in the body. With this limiting framework, we can never bridge the seemingly separate ideas of the emotional (e.g. a bereavement), the mental (e.g. “he broke my heart”), and the physical (e.g. change in heart function).
Unlike conventional medicine, MindBody does not separate the emotional, mental and physical. Rather, these are equally important domains of the same bodymind substance. And when these domains are simultaneously considered, story such as “he broke my heart” can emerge in the same context as a change in heart function.
That’s the miracle of the bodymind.
When you think of MindBody, it often helps to think of any given thought as having an accompanying feeling in your body. For example, anxiety (heart palpitations, cold or sweaty hands and/or feet, shortness of breath, dry mouth, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet) doesn’t occur just because you’re stuck in traffic. Anxiety arises because there’s an accompanying thought (e.g., I’m running late for work again and the boss has already mentioned my tardiness once already this week).
Moreover, the anxiety you experience while stuck in traffic may reflect a hidden core belief that was created when you were younger (e.g., in your excitement, you were early to arrive at a friend’s party and were berated by your friend’s mom for turning up before everyone was ready, leaving you with the belief that it’s not safe to be early). MindBody allows you to bring thoughts (and words) and feelings (and physical symptoms) together, which is the first step to releasing your distress (and your disease).
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