“The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed….If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought…” – As a Man Thinketh, James Allen
My interest in the union of mind and body emerged some years ago via my own health issues. Having survived a life threatening illness, I sought answers to my burning questions “why do people get sick and others don’t?” Along my journey of self discovery I noted the same issues arising for my clients as well.
Working in post rehabilitation meant seeing people who were generally at a low point in their life as a result of their illness or injury. Have you ever had that feeling, where you’ve been sick for some weeks, don’t feel like exercising and start feeling sorry for yourself? That’s exactly what I was seeing on a regular basis. In all fairness to my clients, they didn’t choose to be that way. Their physical situation had influenced their mental and emotional state. It’s like a short circuit in their mind body connection had occurred.
As a result of my personal and professional experience, I began exploring the role of thoughts and emotions as a basis to achieving health and wellbeing. We train our bodies but what of our minds? If you’re reading this right now and believe that you cannot influence your mental state, please continue reading.
The eastern principle states you are not your thoughts, rather the observer of the thought. This is what I mean when I instruct my clients to become mindful of their thoughts. I encourage them to consciously bring their thoughts to the forefront of their mind when they’re overwhelmed with incessant self talk. I instruct them to imagine standing on the sand observing their thoughts as though they were waves coming in to shore. Some waves arrive in a fast and furious manner, others slowly and silently. Yet they all disappear as they hit the shoreline.
Your thoughts have the same influence on your body. Your thoughts drive your emotional state. So imagine now for a moment that you are the observer of the thought. Standing at the shoreline noting and observing without attaching meaning or substance to the incoming thoughts. Remember the Viewmaster toy you played with as a child? That red box you looked into for hours, with 3D images on a circular paper wheel. You could change the scenery at the click of a tab and see an entire story unfold before your eyes.
Now imagine your thoughts are playing out in your mind like a Viewmaster. You are the watchful observer, instead of giving them meaning, just be still and observe. What is the theme of the story? Do they have a shape or colour in your mind? What do you feel when entertaining these thoughts? Where do these feelings reside in your body? Is it in your stomach, your chest or somewhere else? Don’t analyse it, just observe. Use the following mental phrase to remind you that you are a casual observer; “Isn’t that interesting” when overwhelmed with thought.
My program The Power to Navigate Life teaches people how to reclaim their mental and physical well being. Based on three fundamental principles I have found essential for healing from a life threatening disease to radiant health. Following these principles in their daily lives clients see a powerful shift from fatigue, unhappiness, poor skin, depressed mood to feelings of vitality, a renewed sense of life purpose and the energy to make it happen. My ongoing coaching and training cements the learning so that clients never return to their old habits and behaviours. Radiant health and vitality is an important factor for awakening our authenticity. I have written a comprehensive e-book called Mind Body Health & Wellness which distils the principles espoused in this article.
As James Allen suggests in the opening quote, become the guardian of your mind. Be mindful of your thoughts, for your mind has the influence over your body to represent the health you deserve. The reward is an internal balance, a shift toward harmony and bliss adding colour and meaning to your life. When you connect with your mind and body, you allow the synergy of life to find expression within. You become life itself as it unfolds through you.