What Is Mind-Body Healing?
The term ‘mind-body’ is a little misleading in my opinion.
Ten years ago, while crawling on hands and knees in the A&E with a severe anxiety attack, I heard the following desperate words come out of my mouth:
“I can’t pinpoint anything that is mentally wrong. It just feels physical. I am being overwhelmed by this physical reaction. Please help me.”
Aside from discovering I had low blood pressure and dehydration, I now know that my body was in a state of fight-or-flight caused by a seemingly harmless scenario in my life that had triggered childhood trauma.
In order to process stress we first turn to movement, like people running from a burning building. Only once we are past the event can our neurological and linguistic reactions take over again. Think about the expressions “I’m numb” or “I’m speechless” or “I’m out of my mind.”
Trauma specialists are learning to start with the body (or certainly include it) to access trauma, process it ,and return to the present. The present is safety.
The body has things to tell us and we need to listen! So really, we should be calling it the ‘body mind’
Five Outstanding Books About The Body Mind
Fierce Medicine, by Ana T. Forrest
Choosing your own movement in life– i.e. being empowered to decide how and when you move and taking full ownership of your healing while still feeling safe to reach out for help – is the key to any mental or physical recovery. One place where you can do this is on the yoga mat. This leading yoga teacher and medicine woman shares her life story and – in her own words – breakthrough practices to heal the body and ignite the spirit.
The Body Keeps the Score, by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
A fascinating book describing a psychiatrist’s first hand experience of landmark psychological and medical treatments over the last 50 years – and how traumatic stress creates actual physiological changes within us. And how methods like yoga can help reverse these changes. If you have any history of trauma (most of us do) be prepared to find some of the first-hand accounts upsetting. But this book will change your perception of mental health forever and give you the confidence to know what to ask for from your medical community when you need help using your brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma.
When the Body Says No, By Gabor Maté
It is thrilling to live in an age where trained doctors are now able to talk about emotion in the body. This Hungarian-born Canadian doctor writes and speaks extensively about the connection between mind and body in relation to diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, IBS, heart disease and multiple sclorosis through the lens of solid scientific research. He is a particularly popular speaker on the subject of addiction which is one of many obsessive disorders that can be linked back to trauma. All of his experience culminates beautifully in this easily absorbed book which sets our health in the original context of adverse childhood experiences, discussing the role that stress and emotional make-up play in causing disease, and what we can do about it.
Quantum Healing, by Deepak Chopra
Many people don’t know that Deepak Chopra is both an endocrinologist and Ayurvedic medicine expert. He trained in Delhi, one of many places on earth where doctors are more than comfortable combining ancient medicine with modern science (and even have hospitals that perform both).
One of my frustrations in life is not being able to have more in-depth conversations with doctors about hormones. Our hormonal blueprint formed millions of years ago and influences our other body systems at a deep level, in a way that is so sophisticated it is difficult to describe and prescribe for. And like physics, human health relies heavily on well-founded scientific knowledge that is certainly opening the door to the universe of human health for us, but hasn’t taken us all the way through yet. In the meantime, we have books like this to expand our minds and remind us that we are still exploring the frontiers of mind/body medicine.
Love, Medicine and Miracles, by Bernie Siegel
Readers adore Bernie because he perfectly combines his medical training as a surgeon with the most gorgeous human empathy and joy that could ever emanate from one person, while discussing the amazing ways people keep themselves alive. He asserts that “all patients must be accorded the conviction that they can get well, no matter what the odds.” We all know there is tribalism afoot right now, and the temptation to relegate healing resources into the scientific or the holistic. The truth is, healing has always come from both of those spheres and they regularly overlap. But the most crucial element in any healing camp is you, the patient. Find success-oriented relationships who can make up your bespoke support team, whoever they are, to achieve your primary healing agenda – unconditional self-love.
*IMPORTANT: When reading… well… anything, please remember that you don’t have to agree with everything people write or say! Not agreeing doesn’t invalidate their offering. Just do what people in recovery groups are good at – take what you like, and leave the rest.
This is an opinion piece and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a medical practitioner regarding any health issues.