From Soma to Psyche: The Body-Mind Connection Explained (+ An Exercise to Reconnect)
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We all have to deal with our emotions one way or the other. However, the particular way we choose to do it may very well define our overall well-being and happiness. Some may have their emotions largely on display while others keep them so tightly lid that they themselves are no longer aware of their existence.
I’d like to propose a simple exercise to unlock the emotional baggage we carry around in our body that is causing physical pain and health issues. But first, let us look into what science says about the body-mind connection.
The body-mind connection explained by science
Our brain has an emotional center, the limbic system, which is strategically located between the parts managing the higher functions and the very primitive parts of our mental being. It processes all the sensations we collect through our sense organs by first receiving these messages and then sending commands to the rest of the body as a reaction. It does not only produce emotions as a response to these stimuli but also manages our autonomous nervous system by regulating blood pressure, heart rate, intestinal functions and many other vital functions.
Therefore, our emotions and our bodily systems have a constant dialogue that we are not necessarily aware of. The old paradigm of the brain controlling the body is not valid anymore. Candace Pert, the brilliant mind proving the body-mind connection, says that emotional states are altered states of consciousness, and emotions are the link between the physical and mental realms. Stored emotions in the body disturb the health, whereas health disturbances influence the emotions.
In the end, a tight control over our emotions is not so good if it leads to suppression and gets stored in our system as a disruptive pattern. At the same time, it is not easy to trace such patterns by mere observation, since the data comes from subconscious parts of our mind. But we can go the other way around and use the body to release blocked emotions and bring healing. That is why yoga and many bodywork therapies have profound healing effects that are beyond expectations.
A simple exercise to connect body & mind
I would like to suggest a very simple way to release blocked emotions in the body, which does not require any technical knowledge. It is inspired by experiences from amazing bodywork techniques such as Feldenkrais, Alexander or Skinner Release techniques. It is ridiculously simple, so you should give it a try too. Here it goes:
- Lie down on the ground and take a few minutes to focus on your breath, allowing the air to travel into the abdomen and the chest. Exhale fully and slowly, taking more time for exhalation. Then, find a natural rhythm for your breath while keeping the exhalations longer.
- Start scanning your body from the toes upwards very slowly, imagining that all the liquids in your body are trying to get closer to the ground, melting into the ground. Whenever you feel a tension or a resistance, imagine that you are breathing into that area and exhaling out the tension.
- Once you reach a state of relaxation in the ground, allow the parts of the body where you felt a resistance or contraction to move very slowly. It does not matter which way or in what form the movement evolves, just listen to the desire of your own body part. The only job is to preserve a relaxed awareness. The deeper the concentration and presence, the more awareness of the profound connection between all limbs, muscles and tissues can be perceived.
- The slow pace and the depth of the work can trigger states such as agitation, numbness or drowsiness, especially when we work with an area carrying emotional weight. Maintain a mindful state observing these reactions. Once we can move beyond them, we may be rewarded with a body that feels as light as a bubble as we flow through this life with ease, feeling vibrant and powerful, all the while supported by a relaxed mind.
- If you feel inspired, you can stand up into bigger movements or conclude this practice with a short awareness phase observing the physical sensations and your emotional state.
Get in tune with your emotions and identify the root of any potential imbalances in your body and mind on a life-changing yoga health retreat!
Dijan currently offers consultations and yoga retreats in Europe and Asia under her brand, Rasa Lila by Dijan. Join her at her ‘ The Feminine Way – Tantric Yoga Therapy Retreat for Radiance, Health and Authenticity’ in Ubud between November 4-10 to have a taste of her delicious, holistic approach.