When I was much younger I remember reading a book called Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams. It had such an impact on me at the time and I still get it out to read when looking for inspiration to this day. The passage that fascinated me the most was when he described his experience of overcoming his illness by using the power of his mind. He trained so that he was able to harness the incredible power of the mind to encourage his body to heal.
This inspired me to explore the intriguing and often underestimated relationship between our mind and our body.
It’s become apparent to me over the years through my work as an acupuncturist and as a tai chi instructor that most people are completely unaware of this link and how much the mind does affect the body.
In order to help us understand the link though I’d like to ask you a question.
What do you think are the key ingredients of a successful and happy relationship whether it’s a friend or close partner?
Well to me it’s all about Connection and Communication.
I want you to imagine for a moment being in a relationship where your partner just ignores you. They don’t talk to you and they don’t listen to you. How would you feel after a short while? Yes, pretty soon it would breakdown wouldn’t it? This may sound obvious and yet…
A lot of you may well be in that kind of relationship yourselves!
What am I talking about???
The longest and most important relationship we have in this life is the one we have with ourselves….
and yet it is the one which gets the least of our attention.
It is no surprise then that when we loose connection with ourselves and stop listening to the body that problems arise whether physical, mental or emotional.
It is in staying connected, listening and responding to what our body and mind are saying that good health both physically and psychologically can be maintained. Not only that when we become accustomed to staying connected with ourselves we become more and more aware of the unconscious patterns of conditioning that have been running our lives all these years which can be extremely self-limiting and self sabotaging.
So how can we become more connected with ourselves? How can we start to listen and be more aware of what the body and mind are telling us every second?
One of the most effective ways of not only becoming more connected but also more present and more relaxed is through listening to the breath.
I’d like to guide you through a simple breathing exercise that will provide a good foundation which you can then build upon.
1. First of all make sure that you turn your phone to silent so that you won’t be disturbed. Get yourself comfortable either sitting or laying down.
2. Stretch your legs out and relax your hips.
3. Stretch your arms down and relax your shoulders.
4. Take a deep breath in through the nose and sigh your breath out the through the mouth.
5. Then close your mouth and continue to breathe in and out through your nose.
6. Begin to observe the breath.
7. Notice when you breathe in and when you breathe out.
Inevitably when you first start this exercise the mind might be very busy and easily distracted. This is OK. Simply notice when you have wandered off in your mind and gently bring it back to focus once more on the breath. It doesn’t matter how many times you might need to do this. At the beginning the mind is a little like an untrained puppy which bounds off excitedly with every distraction. However with practice the mind starts to settle and the thoughts take less and less space and the moments of quiet focused attention gradually increase filling you with a deeper and deeper sense of calm and peace.
I use this technique a lot in my tai chi classes as it is so effective. It’s a simple way to start learning about the mind body connection, learn about focused attention, become more sensitive to what your body and mind are telling you and of course how to let go and discover a powerful sense of inner peace and calm.
Have a go and let me know in the comments section below how you are getting on.
As always take care and have a great week.