Each can't exist independent of the other. The mind takes form through the body by way of the brain and the central nervous system. The body needs the mind to animate it and to experience it.
All of our experiences in life involve some influence from both.
The good news is that we can use our understanding of the mind-body connection to achieve greater health, performance and overall quality of life.
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Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body and behavior, as well as the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual and behavioral factors can affect health.
Our knowledge of the mind-body connection suggests that physical sickness and health have corresponding states of mind. We know that thoughts alone can make the body sick, as in the case of psychosomatic illness. We also know that through the Placebo Effect thoughts can heal the body.
To the extent that we can control the nature of our thoughts about our health, we should try to keep them focused on thriving, consider health and vitality as part of our bodies' usual, enduring condition and view sickness as a temporary abnormality that will soon subside.
The mind's capacity to influence the body's health and healing is vast. It should not be underestimated. Rather, we'd be well served to use it as a viable remedy that compliments drugs and surgery.
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Success comes from doing the right things at the right times. We can prepare ourselves to make the most of our opportunities by repeatedly rehearsing perfect performances in our minds.
We know that thoughts create the same mental instructions as actions. So, we can use them to train our brains for actual performance. Top competitors and performers of all kinds have used visualization techniques to simulate perfect performances and have achieved corresponding results.
Use your creative imagination in preparation for your perfect performance. Compose a mental movie depicting yourself in top form. Charge your story with strong emotions and vivid details and replay it often. Later, try not to act surprised when you have déjà vu because what you think may well foreshadow what you do.
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Chronic psychological stress is the undoing of wellbeing.
Modern stressors abuse the fight-or-flight response we developed to protect ourselves from true threats to life and limb. Our minds interpret such stressors, like mail from collection agencies, in the same way that our ancestor's minds viewed a hungry bear arriving in their camp. To make matters worse, there is a lot more collection agency mail around today than there were hungry bears back then.
Our perception of being under continual duress triggers the fight-or-flight response far more frequently than it was intended. Consequently, our bodies malfunction and/or break down. Stress is a major risk factor in numerous illnesses from impotence to heart disease.
We may not be able to avoid some of the causes of stress. We can, however, respond to them better. This begins with our attitudes. If we can find a silver lining in a cloud of stress or laugh when it rains on our parade we will circumvent the stress response. Failing that, we can use deep belly inhalations combined with elongated exhalations to activate our nervous system's stress countermeasure, the relaxation response. And as our safety net, cultivating habits of regular nutrition, exercise and rest will fortify our physical defense mechanisms.
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