“Listen to your body.” Man, do people love that phrase right now. I mean, I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a wellness-related book, article, or conversation that didn’t extole the virtues of the mind-body connection. Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that, for most part, I’m totally into it: I try to practice mindfulness, and have written here before about the changes I observe when both my mental and physical space are in harmony. But it’s my very belief in the mind-body principle that’s exposed me to it’s underbelly, or the reality that this prescription du jour of Western and alternative practitioners alike is actually a lot harder than popping a couple Advil.
You probably knew this already, though. Speaking for myself, I have to be honest and say that my mind-body equilibrium is far from blissful. For every moment of connection, I expereince a dozen more instances when my mind and body feel totally severed. These periods manifest in different ways, but include scenarios like this:
Body: I’m hungry!
Mind: You can hold on till later.
Body: No, I really can’t…
Mind: Yes, you can. You’ll be so proud of yourself later.
Body: I’m satisfied.
Mind: No, must continue to eat/exercise/push myself.
Body: Um, no, girl…
Mind: Yes, I need to be punished/rewarded/disciplined for x/y/z…
And so on. With these dialogues going back and forth, I feel like the middleman between two frenemies. Lately, in particular, the tug-of-war between my body and mind has not only been prevelant, but a little bit frightening as well. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve found myself falling into patterns and habits I thought I’d ditched long ago. Without any exact reason, I woke every day as committed as always to honoring myself inside and out, only to falter before afternoon hit. It got to the point that I wasn’t “siding” with my body or my mind, but simply making self-destructive decisions that all parts of my being feeling crummy. As you can imagine, the emotional, mental, and physical side effects of my bahavior— anxiety, frustration, lethargy, headaches, stomach pain— sent me into a spiral of capital “S” for self-loathing.
Of course, there were a few glimmers of progress in the whirlwind. On Sunday, for example I succumbed to a nasty immune reaction I’d been fighting for almost 72 hours. I slept in, skipped my planned workout, and spent most of the day in bed. There was chicken soup involved. It wasn’t the day I pictured, but I managed to quiet my Type A mind for the sake of my body’s well-being. A couple days later still, I am finally able to sit down and write this post because I’ve emerging not only from my physical illness, but that dizzying sense of mind-body confusion. After a bit of an “enough is enough” moment yesterday, I woke up this morning determined to call truce between my mind’s badgerings and my body’s signals. Not going to lie, but I probably wouldn’t be feeling better if it weren’t for a yoga class at my favorite studio. While I do practice at home, I love the total surrender of a class setting. For one hour, it’s not my job to figure out what my next move is. All I need to do is show up on my mat and allow the teacher’s voice and my breathing move me, and I can feel my dislocated soul slide back into place. I left this particular class feeling both grounded and weightless— firmly rooted in my mind and body connection, and free of the burden of playing mediator between the two.
But how do I maintain that feeling? And, because I believe that it’s impossible to exist in balance 24/7, how to I make the stumbles less steep? That’s always the problem with me, I guess: I’m on top of the world or I’m stuck in the depths, without much action in between. My mom pointed this out to me on Monday (well, she applied the idea in a different context, but I’ll toss her creds all the same 😉 ), and I had to admit she had a point. I guess that’ll be a project for me the next few months, to find some kind of equilibrium, some balance. A way to make my mind and body hold hands, and stay out of fights for the most part.
Thank you for staying through this ramble-y post. I m forever grateful for the platform for allowing me to spread my soul the Kite Hill almond milk cream cheese…
Sorry, did that ruin the moment? My apologies. Guess my mind is telling me to fuel my body with some delicious toast in the a.m…I can’t wait to listen to it.
. . .
What your experience with mind-body connection? When you fall out of balance, how do find your way back?