My training and experience, now in working with clients across a wide range of issues, leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that the mind and body are all one system. What affects us physically, affects us emotionally and vice versa.
Think of the last time you had a physical symptom (e.g. pain/fatigue) and how that made you feel within yourself – pretty fed up, sorry for yourself – right? Think too of the last time you were really upset or worried by something. How did your body react? Usually we’ll notice muscle tension, maybe a headache and other physical manifestations of our emotional state, e.g. racing heart, tears, pacing around etc.
Many of us think of the body and mind being somehow different and separate parts of us but try this. Take a moment now to place your feet flat on the floor and notice any sensations in them. Maybe notice whether they feel hot or cold. Notice now the feeling of them being in physical contact with the floor. Does one foot feel heavier or lighter than the other? As you experience these physical sensations notice where is your mind? Do it again now and really notice where your mind is as you do this…. not in your head but in your feet - right? The brain, as an organ, is in our head but the mind is thoughout our body. Our muscles and cells have memory, the same as our brain does.
Think of emotions now. We often view feelings as being something experienced in our head but they happen to us physiologically in our body. They’re not just in our head. The conscious thoughts we have about how we’re feeling are in our head but the feelings themselves are physically in our body. Our emotions are actually a release of chemicals from the pituitary gland and each of our 32 main emotions is just a combination of different chemicals released into our physical body.
Next time you experience a strong emotion (good or bad) notice that it starts somewhere physically in your body, e.g. fear might start with a sick feeling in the stomach or a tight feeling in the chest. Once we know how our emotions are being experienced in our body we can much more powerfully reverse and change them at will. Clients are often surprised by this and it’s incredibly empowering to be able to change our emotions this way. It really puts us back in control.
Further evidence of the body/mind connection is that we often can tell from a person’s posture how they are feeling emotionally. Did you know it’s impossible to look up and cry at the same time and that by changing our physical posture, e.g. by sitting up straight we can actually change how we feel emotionally? It seems so obvious and yet we still tend to view the body and mind separately.
In my work, I often find that physical symptoms can have an emotional root. It’s not that the physical symptoms are imagined. They’re very real! However, although not always the case, they can point to an unresolved emotional issue. Take the example of tinnitus. This problem often arises following a traumatic event such as a bereavement. The person has heard some unbearable news and the body starts to protect them from hearing anything else that is so devastating by physically impairing the hearing. This may sound incredulous but I frequently see evidence of this kind of physical manifestion in cases where there has been a significant emotional impact. Often when the medical model cannot explain or really resolve ongoing physical symptoms, chronic back pain being another example, we’ll find that something fairly major has happened to a person emotionally. Once the underlying emotional trauma is addressed the physical symptoms usually start to improve and in many cases they can be eliminated.
The subconscious mind that runs all of our bodily processes is vast and powerful (we don’t need to think about breathing, it just happens automatically along with thousands of other life sustaining processes) and its main function is to ensure our survival. When there is emotional trauma to address it can send us physical symptoms to get our attention. It has no other voice. Pain and physical symptoms can be there to help us know there is something we need to deal with, so I also help clients change their view of the physical symptoms they’re experiencing. Once we can see them as something to guide us towards deeper emotional healing we can welcome them and then release them, having listened, understood and dealt with the underlying issue.
Hypnotherapy, NLP and EFT are all very effective therapies for addressing underlying emotional issues in a way that’s safe and with the minimum discomfort during the process. If you have (or someone you know has) chronic physical symptoms and, when you think of it, there has been a significant event that has had a negative emotional impact (e.g. bereavement, relationship breakdown, serious illness or injury, assault and so on) then some sessions could be really beneficial. The relaxation that comes with the therapies is great for relieving stress and so sessions should always be beneficial whatever the outcome in workng with any other symptoms.