How our thoughts are so powerful that they can affect our health and posture…
There is an old saying that a friend of mine once told me, “Your body is your mind in 3D”
He told this to me at a time when I was experiencing intense lower back pain as well as what I would have described as an unrelated, but high amount of anxiety in my life.
He mentioned this statement to me because he was attempting to gently draw a link between the physical symptom of my back hurting with my feelings of intense anxiety.
This friend of mine is an experienced body works practitioner with over 20 years under his belt looking at the human condition and guiding them to wellness.
You see, my back was and is in good nick. I eat from the earth, surf every day, train my body safely and at the time I was just getting into personal training myself so it was a crippling feeling to not be able to simply run as fast as I can or do a cool handstand if I felt like it. So there was no real physical reason why my back should be hurting. What was bought to my attention in this time was that I had a set of beliefs and patterns of thought that were letting me down and limiting my potential, such thoughts as :
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t have enough
- I don’t like my job
- I’m not able to do what I want for a living
These beliefs and thoughts were draining so much energy from my body that they were literally putting a kink in the hose which nourishes your kidneys (lower back) and giving me a lot of emotional stress. When your body experiences stress there is an automatic survival instinct that kicks in called your “fight or flight” response, when this comes in it triggers a reaction from your adrenal glands which sends a burst of cortisol (Stress hormone) through your body to give you the kick in the butt to get moving and survive. When this response in activated on a regular basis it sucks the life force form your body so much that it can have myriad of implications to your health and in my case, lower back pain. I was not recovering from the training that I was doing, my body was rigid and I felt weak and tired all the time.
The point of this little story is to draw a link between your thoughts (Mind) and your body.
Another link between the physical and non physical of our being is the Charkra system. This system comes from an ancient Indian way of seeing the non physical energy centres throughout the body. It is said in most texts that there are 7 centres or chakras in the body the first beginning in the sacrum (Base of the spine) and then working their way up to the very crown of the head. Each chakra or energy channel has attached to it a set of values, a physical attribute as well as an emotional attribute. So what I was experiencing as a physical lower back pain may well have been just a symptom of my emotional stress.
It is said that when an energy centre is blocked in your body that there is a physical and emotional correlation to this energy centre. For example, the first chakra is concerned with such things as finances, base of support and tribal associations (Family, friends connection), the base is physically related to the lower back and organs of digestion.
When talking about thoughts and emotions its a hard one to quantify. What I encourage you to do is to take this passage with a grain of salt and if it resonates with you, delve deeper and begin to watch what your thoughts are capable of.
Have you ever walked down the street and seen a person with slumped forward shoulders, head staring downward, feet dragging along slowly behind? When I see this I think to myself man that person doesn’t look happy.
This benchmark of postural signs could tell you a few things,
The forward shoulders can indicate a closed heart or the need to protect oneself, the forward head and downward stare could indicate low self esteem. It could well be that this poor dude walking down the street had a terrible sleep and was just not ready for it to be Monday again, but either way, how you look on the outside is a telling sign of what is happening on the inside.
Think of a baby who is just learning to walk, they are so flexible, malleable and trusting of the earth beneath their feet that they can take a few steps, bounce on the ground, roll around, dust their bum off and get back up for more. Babies, as many know, are born with this perfection that life hasn’t yet taken from them. They trust the world, they move with fluidity and freedom, they move with confidence that they are going to be safe and their body language shows that. Beautiful poster, deep full belly breathes, usually laughing a few hundred times per day at least.
These traits are all beautiful landmarks for good posture and a healthy flow of energy throughout the body.
When fear, anger, rigidity or doubt come into the picture in ones life, our bodies awareness or consciousness also feels this and responds accordingly.
What is emerging that everyone is aware of is this: The mind is a very powerful part of oneself. It is essential to foster what you want your reality to be with thoughts that are conducive to that.
Some ways that we can support positive thinking to bring better health include:
Breathing: The exercise of breathing with mindfulness is an amazing thing to do. If for just 5 minutes each day before going to bed or upon waking, we simply watch our breath we can really gain insight to where our head is at. Simply slowing your breath down and placing your hands on your belly to encourage your breath to begin in the centre does wonders for your mental and emotional state.
Meditation: There are different types of mediation out there and there are no necessarily bad ones. The point is to gain awareness of one’s self. The more we connect to ourselves, the better. We can slowly learn to train our mind to think kindly of ourselves and the more we do that the more energy we have to be kind and loving to others.
Yoga: There is another old saying out there, flexiblity of the body brings flexibility of the mind. The act of Yoga (Meaning “Union”) connects the body and the mind, with movement that is done with intention to open the energy centres of the body and free blockages in our systems.
Strength training: Moving your body through resistance work stimulates the release of feel-good hormones and with that your always going to feel great about yourself. Try to sweat, if not each day, at least a few times per week.
Mindfulness: Simply being aware of the thoughts that go through our head on a day to day basis can do wonders to implement change. Not chastising yourself when you do experience negative thoughts but simply acknowledging them and choosing thoughts that are more true.
When you have a self negating thought, ask yourself. Is this thought true? Does it serve me in a way to make me a happy person?
If not, then think the opposite and get on with the day ahead.
Values: Assess what you hold close to you. Think of your ideal situation with regard to friends, work, money, love, fun, adventure and train your thoughts around making these things happens
In the end thoughts are like wishes. What is passing throughout your head day in day out usually materialises in one way or another on a physical level, you being aware of what your putting out to the universe is a sure way to begin to harness that energy and use it to what you do want instead of what you don’t. Put the focus towards there. You may find that thinking positively carries you forward in a way that effects more than just your posture.
References: Many thanks to my original mentor and dear friend Richard Paton, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.
This post originally appeared in North Journal, December 2015.