As a yogi, the mind body connection has always been a keen interest of mine. But these last few days I’ve been thinking about it from a different perspective. Instead of linking the mind + body for greater expansion and control, I’m realizing the importance this connection has on day to day living and general wellbeing.
Last week, DH had surgery for his ongoing pain in the neck. This was my first time as the patient’s spouse, and it was all kinds of strange. Being in the hospital — around so much sickness — was intense. I spent hours in the waiting room with other family members who were…well, waiting like me. Then there was the recovery room. To see my husband amongst that cast of characters — and he looked like one of them — was unsettling, to say the least.
DH is home healing now. He will fully recover, and be better than ever. But this process has highlighted how the mind body connection can impact a life.
We don’t know exactly how his severe disc herniation occurred. The doctor couldn’t say. But DH is certain it’s from a lifetime of not listening to his body.
And even though I consider myself to be highly attuned to my body, that doesn’t mean I always listen to it.
Like when my stomach says it’s full, somehow my hands are signaled to keep putting more almonds and chocolate chips into my mouth. Or when my legs go another four laps around the running track despite the fact my left knee is screaming achey. And then there are the countless nights when my eyes shout SHUT DOWN, but my mind is determined to finish another episode of whatever show I’m currently binge watching.
The mind is a powerful thing, and sadly sometimes it takes a body in sickness, pain or injury to get it noticed. But if we can pay attention to the softer, more subtle signs coming from our bodies, it can help pave the path of living well.
Here, 3 more TO-DOs to help strengthen your mind body connection:
1. Meditate Meditate Meditate
And if you don’t feel like sitting for five or ten minutes then at least take little relaxation breaks to check in with the body. While waiting for the elevator, close your eyes for a few seconds and see what you’re feeling on the inside. You can also do this in the shower or when brushing your teeth.
2. Do Yoga
The mindful practice focuses on linking movement to breath which helps the mind and body work as one.
3. Be Positive
This doesn’t mean everything has to glow through rose colored glasses (though if you do want that, here’s a super cute pair). But by being more optimistic you’re sending good vibes not only to yourself, but to those around you creating a healthier environment for all.
4. Stay Active
Part of DH’s recovery plan from the doctor is to walk daily. When the body is moving, it keeps the blood flowing, and the channels stay open to keep the connection alive.
How do you keep your mind body connection going?
(Photo by Adrian Alston for TheProducer.com )
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No wonder you’re stressed Elysha! Best wishes to your husband for a speedy recovery. I have noticed that men seem to have an extraordinary ability to disregard their own needs (by which I do not mean wants – a whole other conversation!). In terms of connecting to myself, I would also add my own space, silence, journaling and time in nature.
I echo Sara’s comments. In addition, I find having a routine or something familiar helps to rekindle that mind-body connection for me.
Dear Elysha, So happy that your husband is on the path to better days! And sorry for the rough seas–I can totally empathize with you as the patient’s spouse and hope you are taking care of yourself. Easy to forget about but SO important. I love all of your tips–especially the movement piece. Hugs and love to you….
Sending you both lots of love! You and hubby need to recover, not only him. Any hospital issue is not something we can get used to.
Isn’t it amazing how yoga or any movement that we are passionate about seem to begin with the body, but through focus and commitment, the mind follows? I recently visited a friend in the states and went out bike riding (I had to rent). And he said to me – the only times I see you smile like this is when we practice and now seeing you ride a bike. I may be pedaling like a mad woman with the hilly routes we took or breathing so loud like Darth Vader as I stretch to whatever asana I am into… but I guess my face shows contentment and peace in those moments. And when my friend said that, I am able to access that moment, remembering the feeling, and taking it with me when I hurry to check in with 40 minutes left to spare, or pinching my finger in those retractable handles on luggage, or even finding that spot where to nod my head to pass out during flight.
I’m thinking this is one way of taking your practice off the mat. =) xo
Yes, Maia! Recalling those moments of connection is definitely a way to get back there. I love bike riding too…especially in the summer evenings. It’s different than yoga or meditation because it taps into more of my playful side. I guess yoga can be playful, but maybe since I’m not feeling so playful lately — cruising through the NYC streets at night is an easier way for me to get in touch with that. Thanks for your kind words and always for sharing your wise yogic insights. x x
ST, I remember you were recently the patient’s spouse….not a fun place to be. But for better or worse, right? And so true about taking care of myself…I’m feeling that I need some of that now…otherwise there’s nothing left for me to give. Your support and friendship definitely help. Thank you x x
Interesting…perhaps when we can focus less on the external it gives us more of an opportunity to go inside. I could have also added that running helps– I know you know all about this….there’s nothing like connecting the mind and body on a nice, steady run. Thank you, Terry.
Journaling, of course!! As writers we’re often turning to the pen (or keyboard) to connect to ourselves. I remember you recently posted on how writing is one way you make sense of things…I’m write there with you. 🙂 Thank you, Sara!
Awsome – this gave me so much clarity