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The Mind-Body Connection

By Jillian Sarno ND

The mind and the body are by no means separate – they are intimately connected anatomically, biochemically, physiologically, and even emotionally. Our mind – and our thinking – greatly effects the function, health, and performance of our bodies, and the reverse is also true: how we use our bodies has great significance for the mind. Surely you have heard news stories or read books or articles detailing the facts about exercise and how it improves mood, is a fabulous anti-depressant, enhances cognition and mental performance, improves outlook, and just generally keeps people in a more positive mental state. It is easy to see how moving the body and keeping the blood flowing throughout the system can perk up your mood; what is a little more difficult to grasp is the fact that how you think and the state of your mind will affect your body.

Remember the last time you were in a wonderful mood? Perhaps you got great news, fell in love, or got a pay raise at work. In the gym or during your training, you were likely on top of your game – feeling stronger, maybe even lifting heavier weight, going for longer before a rest, moving faster. Maybe you felt more powerful and adaptable, like you could roll with the punches or take more things on, deal with stress better. Maybe you even felt more connected to other people. What was happening there was that you were manifesting your mental state. A positive mental and emotional state gave you positive gains in your physical body.

Yet it goes beyond being in a good or bad mood. Your belief system can have positive or negative consequences for your training and performance. Fundamental, core beliefs about yourself will greatly effect how you operate in this world. In my experience, nothing is more influential. Many people believe that they are either not good enough or that they are lacking in some quality which is present in other people, but not in them. Identifying these core underlying beliefs (which can be tricky) and then questioning them, and sitting with them can change the entire way you view yourself, and the world. It is not about using positive affirmations or catchy quotes, it is about finding your own truth inside of yourself. Positive affirmations are a lie if you don’t truly/subconsciously believe what you are saying – and your wonderfully complex mind knows when it is being lied to.

What I am suggesting is this: if you can “clean up” your mental environment, the physical body becomes that much more powerful and efficient. Even using your attention during reps, “putting your mind in the muscle” so to speak, and visualizing the muscle you are training getting stronger and larger will help that muscle get stronger and larger and look more defined. While you are doing those sprints, visualize the fat melting off of you, and watch it do so. So what do you think happens when you walk around all day thinking: “I am fat”. Do you think that puts your body in fat burning mode or fat storing mode? Do not underestimate the power of your brain and your thoughts.

E-mail me with questions or comments to [email protected] – I’d love to hear from you!