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Mind body healing--the powerful connection between our minds and our bodies--is a phenomenon validated by science. Most of us have experienced it personally as well. But how can we harness that amazing power for health and harmony? Below you'll find a mind-stretching exercise for doing that.
The physical body is often overlooked as part of the human energy field. But everything is energy, and that means that the physical body is energy, too. The physical body is denser than other parts of the energy system, but it's still an integral part of the energy field. The physical body has many correlates or "bridges" to energy anatomy. The glands of the endocrine system, for example, correlate to the chakras.
The physical body is created and sustained by the more subtle aspects of the energy system, rather than the other way around. Problems in the material body start in the subtler bodies, crystallizing in the physical body if they're not addressed.
You can affect your physical body by making changes in more subtle aspects of your energy. One way you can do this is by working with the energy of your mental body: your thoughts and beliefs. Specifically, you can affect your physical body by changing unconsciously held metaphors that you hold about it. This is a form of mind body healing.
Metaphors are figures of speech that make complex concepts easier to
understand. This sounds complicated, but we actually use them all the
Metaphors make a comparison between two words that are not very much alike. But although the comparison is not literally true or accurate, the comparison helps increase insight or understanding about the original word or phrase.
The line from the famous Robert Burns poem "My love is a red, red rose" is an example of a metaphor. Obviously, the speaker's girlfriend isn't actually a red rose, but linking the idea of her/his love to a red rose, the speaker is telling us that s/he is beautiful, colorful, soft and so on. Yeah, the speaker could just say "My love is beautiful and his/her cheeks are rosy (hey, there's another metaphor!)," but that's not as rich an expression.
Although we tend to think of metaphors as something used in poetry or fine arts literature, we use metaphors all the time in daily speech, in fact so often that we may not even be aware we're using them. "The freeway's a parking lot, I'm gonna be late." "You've been a real couch potato." "The mall was a zoo today." "I'm spending too much time on this."
We hold metaphors in our minds about many things, including the physical
body. These metaphors shape how we think of and react to these things.
University of California at Berkeley linguist George Lakoff posits that
we don't simply talk with metaphors, we think and perceive with them. And
to a large degree, as our thoughts and perceptions go, so our lives go.
Metaphors are especially likely to shape and influence our thoughts and perceptions when they are unconscious--and many of them are.
At this point in Western culture, the culturally/medically dominant metaphor for the body is a machine, with the brain as an advanced machine, a computer. It's so common that we use it without even thinking about it. In other words, it's unconscious. What impact does this have? I'd argue that on a societal level, it shapes our entire medical system. That's pretty powerful.
Other common metaphors in Western culture are body as prison; as temple or vessel for the soul; as dumb, brute beast; as slave for the mind; and as a tool for evil. Each metaphor seems to involve a hierarchy, with the body below—far below—the mind.
Those kinds of metaphors about our bodies affect us—not just psychologically, but physically, too. How so? It goes even beyond creating our own reality through our thoughts and perceptions. Our minds and bodies are so inextricably linked that they're impossible to separate. Modern science supports this view. For example, as the renowned neurologist Candace Pert has said, "Consciousness is a global phenomenon that occurs everywhere in the body, not just in our brains."
Thinking of our bodies as machines, or as any of the other negative images that our culture favors, demeans and diminishes not only their sacredness, but also their ability to use their vast wisdom and intelligence to rebalance and heal themselves. When we let go of demeaning and devaluing metaphors for our bodies and replace them with positive and uplifting ones, it helps us tap into these near-miraculous powers of self-restoration.
So what can you do to work with these mind-body healing principles?
First, I strongly encourage you to become conscious of the metaphors you use for your body and to evaluate whether they are serving you by helping you heal, stay healthy and enjoy your body.
Second, I encourage you to empower yourself by experimenting with other metaphors for your body. I think of my body as sacred, conscious, wise and capable of healing and re-balancing itself. Here are some other freeing, empowering, and/or interesting mind-body healing "lenses" through which to view your body:
The main point is to take charge of how you view your body. Be conscious about the metaphors you employ about it.
You can use this enlightening approach in every part of your life, but your own honest, wise friend, your body, is a good place to start. (And did you notice how I slipped that positive, affirming metaphor in?!)