The ‘Mind-Body’ Connection
Unfortunately, when people fail to look into the mind-body relationship, and how many many chronic diseases are a disorder in the mind-body system, they fail to find the tools they could acquire in order to heal. They miss out on an opportunity to experience deep change, spiritual growth, and renewed health and energy. I’m not sure where this resistance comes from, but my guess is that they’ve been told by various medical professionals that ‘it’s all in your head”. The only reason a doctor would say this is because there are no medical tests that can determine Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Although the patient is sick, they clinically present as someone who is healthy. And yet there is much that is physically wrong, and I can certainly attest to that. But at some point, when medicine doesn’t have answers, we have a responsibility to ourselves, and to our own lives, to, well, look elsewhere. In the book When the Body Says No, author Gabor Mate states, “we want to be the authoritative person in our own lives: in charge, able to make the authentic decisions that affect us. There is no true responsibility without awareness. One of the weaknesses of the Western medical approach is that we have made the physician the only authority, with the patient too often a mere recipient of the treatment or cure”. This perfectly describes the problem with a community that is so invested in science to somehow heal them.
I can think of nothing more powerless that being ill with CFS. I was literally at the mercy of my symptoms. My life became very small and confining, because I usually felt to ill to do much of anything. I was often housebound, and occasionally bed bound, I felt powerless to the extreme. All aspects and areas of my life were negatively affected. I was extremely ill, and very early on I realized my very open minded, holistically oriented doctor could do nothing for me. Nothing.
I was ready and willing to embrace anything that would help me to heal. I wasn’t going to beg doctors, clamor for research, and stay sick because science didn’t seem to have an answer. So I wholeheartedly, and with great interest, embraced the mind-body connection.
When we talk about the mind-body connection, people tend to think that we need to focus on the mind, if the body isn’t healing. That we somehow need to explore the mind. We need to meditate, think positive thoughts, believe, really believe…we need to somehow think right or twist our minds around to behave in accordance with the body. Or that we have to adopt a “mind over matter approach”. Or that we have to go to psychotherapy because there is something inherently wrong with our minds, and it’s affecting our bodies. That’s not it at all. What we are focusing on is the connection,between our mind and body. And in order to facilitate that connection, we need to put our focus squarely on the body, and on our bodily symptoms. For example, when I was sick, I would have good days and bad days…I could have bouts of energy and good feelings, only to be followed by days, maybe even weeks of bed rest and inactivity. It didn’t make any sense to me, until I learned to make sense of it…what was my body telling me? Why were some of my days good, and why were some of them bad? And so on until I learned my intelligent body was sending me, my mind, intelligent messages and was wanting my action and attention. An epiphany for me. And a route to healing.
As Kyle Davies so eloquently states in his book, The Intelligent Body, “Symptoms are Solutions”.
So to those who think we are saying “it’s all in your head”..it’s not. It is for certain in your body. And your body will guide the way out of your illness, if only you will open your mind.
As a bit of a follow up or addendum to the mind/body relationship, I’d like to point out that we really are not dualistic…we’ve been reduced to thinking of ourselves as dualistic beings….just mind and body, body and mind…but this is also false….and this is where it all becomes deep and wise…we are mind-body-soul. I don’t know of many physicians who completely appreciate this, nor do I know many people who deeply understand this, but this is why we have something called metaphysicians. When we heal, deeply heal, from anything, I would say, we become reconnected with our soul, our soul path, our truth. This is ultimately what happened to me. So spirituality and health are inextricably linked…I think the first time I came across this concept was back in the early 1980’s when I was still a teenager…my father gave me the book The Road Less Travelled written by psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, who argued that the journey from mental illness to mental health was ultimately a spiritual journey. So I would say any recovery from serious and incapacitating illness is a metaphysical journey.