I’ve learned a ton of useful information in my psychology undergrad studies and yoga teacher training. I now try to use the amalgamation of that knowledge to help myself in my day to day life. I have always been a strong believer in the old adage “knowledge is power.” So I am happy to have an outlet where I am able to share this empowerment with others.
Over the years I’ve come to honor the fact that the mind and the body are intimately intertwined. When we are feeling stressed and our minds are racing, the body responds to this as if we were in physical danger. Our muscles tense (often our shoulders, hips, and jaw), our heart rate increases, our breath becomes quick and shallow. Exactly the things any other animal’s body does to prepare for a real or perceived threat.
The only difference is that unlike other animals, humans have the tendency to get stuck in this fight or flight response for far longer than nature ever intended. This is extremely taxing on the body, causing all sorts of medical issues eventually. While it can be difficult to figure out a way to make the mind calm itself, we can use this mind-body connection to our advantage.
The mind is able to send signals to change the state of our bodies, but the body is equally able to effect our mental state depending on what we do with it. If we think about the ways the body reacts when the mind is calm, we are able to consciously create that state in our bodies even when the mind is feeling agitated. Taking mindful deep breaths and scanning our bodies and relaxing each muscle sends signals to a worried brain that we are safe. It is impossible for opposite states to exist in the mind and body simultaneously.
It can be difficult to stay grounded in the body and apply these mindful physical changes when we are distressed. But with practice, it becomes easier to return to the body when the mind feels frantic. Make yourself comfortable, breathe deeply, relax your shoulders, un-clench your jaw, let the body’s wisdom quiet the storm in your head. I hope you will remember this the next time anxiety emerges in the mind.
Take care of yourselves, dear ones.