I strongly believe in the connection of body and mind. They are the two parts of a whole. I started getting interested in this topic about ten years ago as a consequence of my life story and my dancing.
I used to have a lot of body tension and rigidity back then. I was painstakingly trying to find ways to get rid of it because it stood in the way of my dancing and I also thought I was transferring all this body tension to my dance partners. That was a bad feeling.
One day, by chance, I came across to a tango blog post that talked about mental stress and body tension. It went on to talk about a body-mind discipline called bioenergetics founded by Dr. Alexander Lowen. I started reading his books and with that a new chapter started in my life.
I read all his books and started working on my own body. I had always been doing sports regularly like gym, swimming, biking, running but now I was more interested in listening to my body and through it my mind.
I started practicing yoga regularly, went under the full set of Rolfing treatment, started to seek osteopathy more or less regularly, went to a psychotherapist whenever in need, meditated and kept reading. I became a different person. Starting out with some body tension I went on to leading a very different life.
People around me could notice it, too. They kept telling me how calm and serene I was. I could confirm it myself. I am a typical southern person with a lot of temperament and passion. I no longer explode. All this work done over the course of my ten years of aging brought me tranquility and grounding which I am grateful for. I don’t mean it was easy. It never is. Confronting one’s own body and mind takes a lot of courage I humbly realized.
As a result of all these experiences I kept delving further into the connection between body and mind. Very recently I discovered Somatic Experiencing founded by Dr. Levine which deserves a writing of its own. My readings also made me understand how these different practices, methods and schools from Freudian and Jungian psychotherapy to bioenergetics, Gestalt therapy, somatic experiencing, yoga and spirituality build on each other or at least influence each other.
I found wonderful Dr. Gabor Maté. He is a Hungarian born Canadian clinician who loudly and clearly says that the way we are treating the patients today is incomplete. We treat patients’ bodies with medicine and with that we treat the symptoms only. We do not seek to understand what caused them become patients in the first place.
A patient doesn’t get cancer only because she carries the wrong genes and has smoked too many cigarettes in her life. In most cases of serious illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune or neurological diseases patients have had traumatic experiences, conscious or unconscious, which were never processed. Over the course of life, they turned into unbearable chronic stress and their bodies started saying no. In other words, their bodies started speaking when their minds and psyches did not.
If we sought to understand the reasons and the life stories of the patients with serious diseases, and treated both their minds and bodies holistically, the chances of recovery increase. Dr. Maté gives examples from long years of practice in his books and talks.
Gaining all these insights brings a lot of responsibility for oneself and others. On the one hand, it is a wonderful state to be as it feels like seeing the sunrise for the first time ever after having been blind the entire life. On the other, with all this knowledge, life is no longer simplified by ignorance.
Reflecting on my past, I had realized that whenever I ignored my gut feelings and instincts in favor of my mind, I ended up being unhappy. Whenever I ignored my body signals for the purposes of “higher priorities” I ended up being seriously sick. Now I know why. Our body is wise, much more so than our intellect. When we don’t listen to our body and through it our mind, it turns on us. I promised not to do that to myself to the best of my knowledge and ability, and built my entire value system around it.
Be kind to yourself, and to others.