There are two rather divisive views of mind and body. One theory is that the mind and body are two separate entities that operate independently of one another. This theory was developed by Rene Descartes in the 1600s and is known as dualism. Those who subscribe to this philosophy believe that the mind does not impact the body and the body does not impact the mind.
The other theory, known as monism, is holistic in nature and states that not only are the mind and body connected and intertwined, but that the a person’s thoughts and state of mind have a direct effect on the person’s body and, inversely, the physical body can also produce changes in the mind. You might be familiar with Bruce Lipton’s “Biology of Belief” or maybe read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book: Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life. They are a true believers in mind-body connection. And many more people are applying this model to their own lives.
Power of Thoughts
A recent study conducted on a group of marathon runners measured various physical conditions during a run – including heart rate, muscle activity, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels. These conditions were also measured when the runners were not running, but were thinking about it. They were asked to visualize running a path they’d run before and think about how their bodies felt during the run. This suggests that our bodies respond to what is in our minds whether or not we’re actually experiencing it physically.
What does this mean?
Certainly one could argue that marathon runners have bodies that are so conditioned and primed for running that this could simply be an effect of all of their training. But consider, for example, a stressful situation you had. Did you notice physical changes in your body? Did you experience an upset stomach or a quicker heartbeat when you faced a deadline or had to give a presentation? If so, this intimates that the connection between the physical body and the mind exists.
What about in the opposite direction?
It may be relatively easy to accept that the mind influences the body. Our minds control involuntary physical parts of ourselves like respiration. You don’t have to remember to breathe, thankfully! But can our bodies impact our minds in the same fashion? Think of a time when you taxed your body. Perhaps you didn’t hydrate enough before doing something vigorous. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep. How did you feel mentally? Certainly your body felt something – maybe weak muscles or soreness; perhaps a headache. But were your thoughts fuzzy? Did you have trouble with your memory or other cognitive processes?
How can I use this to my advantage?
Knowing this creates an even greater need to take care of both our physical body and our minds. Maybe you’re an avid exerciser whose body is fit. Perhaps you love mental challenges like reading, learning new concepts, researching, or engaging in other activities that keep your brain busy and employed. But because we’ve identified ways in which the mind and body work together, it is in your best interest to optimize both. It should be noted that this connection does not deny that external factors can impact disease and illness; rather it recognizes that there are internal factors that are just as important. The maintenance of overall health and wellness means treating and considering the entire mind-body complex.
The food with which you choose to nourish your body also nourishes your brain and affects your cognitive processes. Up to 20% of what you consume is used for this purpose. Aerobic exercises not only increase the amount of oxygen in our blood cells, but also the oxygen that is fueling our brains. Conversely, the thoughts you have and your overall outlook can impact you physically. Negative thinking and a stagnant brain can lead to feelings of lethargy and an achy body. Consider changing the parts of your mind or body that are working in opposition of one another. A healthy mind may literally equal a healthy body!
Check out an amazing video from spirit science on how much power our thoughts really hold. Watch this and pass it on, it’s important more people understand how powerful their thoughts are. We are truly a reflection of our thoughts.