Healthy food intake and regular exercise are the mantras of popular culture. So many of us have developed good habits of treating our bodies well. We care for the body internally with organic foods and herbal remedies at the first sign of illness or imbalance. We take care of the external body by tending to it’s surface needs with creams, massages, oils, and various other treatments. We care for the body by going to the doctor for regular checkups, knowing that early screenings can provide useful information and strategies for maintaining optimal health.
Why do we do all of this? For some, the answer is to live a healthy lifestyle. For some it is to live healthier into old age. For some it is to manage stress. For some it is because of external pressures, like doctor’s orders or family pressure. These are all motivators, some more positive than others.
Louise Hay, back in 1976 in her book “Heal Your Body” drew a connection between the health of mind and health of the body. For example, she identified someone experiencing a migraine headaches as someone who might also be engaged in self-criticism or fear. There have been many studies revealing a link between the body and emotions, particularly in the area of trauma. Feelings and emotions can be suppressed by the mind but the body can express emotions or as Bessel van der Kolk has written “The Body Keeps the Score”. Negative emotions have been linked to illness and disease, including eating disorders, addiction and pain.
With an optimally functioning body we have the freedom to bring balance to the other three parts of our whole system of intelligence. Emotions, Mind and Spirit in conjunction with a well functioning body can help us to make decisions that are based on subtle and not so subtle information from the whole system. Have you ever gotten into a discussion with someone and you start to feel anxious or threatened? Have you ever felt your energy drain by a conversation or topic that someone else brings up? In either example your anxiety is valuable sign that something is not right for you regarding the situation at hand. That feedback could be something that you look at more closely later or it might be giving you information to act upon more quickly. Maybe the anxiety is informing you that you need to give yourself a break from the discussion, or to let the other person know that the conversation is not one you choose to engage in at that moment. The anxiety might also be telling you to excuse yourself and leave.
Using the body to cope with anxiety by stretching stretching and deep breathing can also provide relief.
Next time: Key #2 Emotions