Many different types of healing use the mind/body connection as the basic idea behind improving someone’s quality of life. Massage works with the body and has been shown to have benefits for the mind. Meditation quiets the mind and has been show to reduce stress in the body. In counseling, there’s a type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which uses mind and body to change feelings.
According to CBT, how we behave changes how we think and how we think changes how we feel. The reverse is also true. How we feel can change how we think and how we think changes how we behave. This therapy works by either making deliberate changes to how we think or how we behave in order to change our feelings. This approach works because if we behave in a way that doesn’t match what we think, our mind will change what it thinks to match how we behave. And what we think about a situation changes how we behave.
For example, let’s say someone is feeling depressed. Because of the depressed feelings, this person stopped calling people or leaving their house. Because this person isn’t talking to people, he or she might start thinking “nobody cares”, which would make them start to feel more depressed. In counseling, the CBT counselor would either work on changing the thought “nobody cares” or she might address changing the behavior by requiring her client to start calling old friends or going out of the house. Changing the person’s behavior will change how the person thinks about themselves and changing how the person thinks will make it easier to change their behavior.
So for those of us not engaged in CBT counseling, what does the mind/body connection mean? Most importantly it means don’t ignore your physical condition or underestimate how it impacts your behavior. And be careful what you tell yourself about a certain situation because it will change how you act.