What is a true mind-body connection?
Mind-body therapeutics is a way to enhance the mind-body connection. This means opening the communication pathways used by our abstract minds to communicate with our physical bodies, via the nervous system. While it’s tempting to think of ourselves as mere minds wandering around in flesh suits, making things happen, and having things happen to us, that doesn’t begin to explain the multi-dimensional experience of being. Being is more than existing. It’s the underpinning of our aliveness. Being isn’t passive, it’s not just witnessing. Being requires our engagement with the world around us. And, most importantly, our bodies are the conduits between us and the world. Thus, to exist, to be, is to have a conscious, embodied experience of being in the world. A strong mind-body connection enriches our lived experience.
The first step is always to ensure basic needs are met. We look at the six types of self-care essential to living a good life and build from there. For people who struggle with their relationship with food and their body, these building blocks are foundational. Not only do mind-body practices help is establish this structure, but a continued set of practices helps maintain it and leads to recovery and well-being.
Curious how we do that? Learn what it’s like to work with me here.
Why a mind-body approach?
“The body is our general medium for having a world.”— Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception
My approach using mind-body therapeutics considers multiple dimensions of experience: sensory, emotional, cognitive, relational, and spiritual among them. I seek to understand who we are in terms of what is. Working together we strengthen a friendly connection between body and mind by opening the lines of communication between the two. When we listen to our bodies, we gain access to information about our being-in-the-world that isn’t available to the mind alone.
This valuable knowledge strengthens our trust in our ability to accurately interpret our bodies’ feedback and know how to respond appropriately. In fact, knowledge from the body is thought to be a form of intuition, a concept not only supported by neuroscience, but philosophically sound. Alas, the analytical mind just isn’t equipped to make decisions at the embodied level. Thus, all aspects of experience are interconnected and should be addressed integrally in order to achieve heightened levels of well-being, mental and physical health, and flourishing.
How do we strengthen the mind-body connection?
The tools available to a practitioner of mind-body therapeutics are grounded in polyvagal theory, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience and include parts work (Internal Family Systems, Inner Relationship Focusing), somatic and relational dialogue, movement, and contemplative practices. This work arises from present-moment, direct experience at the embodied level. A session with me may include one or more of these modalities when looking at a specific issue related to eating behaviors and attitudes.
We must look at both mind and body in order to have a coherent approach. Neuroscience continues to make it clear that the dominant Western view of the mind-body problem is all wrong. The body is fully innervated and without a clear locus of total control. The gut and heart, for example, also have a role in our nervous system regulation. Cognitive therapies, including secularized mindfulness practices, are not enough on their own. Movement therapies, like postural yoga, often aren’t integrated at the cognitive level. An embodied way of living facilitates a grounded and connected experience of being-in-the-world.