Body Over Mind: Trust the Source, Tame the Intellect
Dec 02, 2015 02:25AM
By Yudit Maros
There has been a good 30 years of confusion, or rather of misunderstanding the relationship between the mind and body. In the early 1980s, it did seem like a revelation that the mind has power over our bodies, specifically the power to heal. Affirmations, prayer, meditation do the job of recalibrating, re-writing the body’s pathways. That is all good and well, but only as far as healing is concerned. These “spiritual interventions” are just that, interventions applied under the threat of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses when the bells of doom are already ringing. How about their usefulness in everyday life? These methods only work so far. Over time, there may still be a disconnect between what we wish for and what we really believe or, more specifically, between what we preach and practice. This is because the body cannot be fooled and, as the pillar of our whole being, can only really be well to the extent it gets its needs met.
At the core of the misunderstanding is the implied definition of spirituality. In the common perception, spirituality is something of the mind, of the spirit, of intention; it is a belief that all that is interconnects, and that there is a higher intelligence that manifests in all that is. The question is how it manifests. In the most humble of forms, the answer is matter. Spirit is matter. Albert Einstein said matter is compacted energy. Spirit is energy. Everything is energy, in its myriad forms of manifestation dictated by vibrational frequencies. Matter, like our own bodies, is what carries that uncanny intelligence that knows past, present and future, and orchestrates the symphony of life. (Where matter comes from is a matter of persuasion, and it is not the topic of this article.) The tiniest particle in any living organism knows what to do, where to go, and how to act and react to keep the whole alive and well. That is intelligence.
So where does the disconnect come from—the one between our intentions and practices, our wishes and our beliefs? It is a gap between our minds and bodies, one that happens the moment we “disagree” with the body’s signals. Culture perpetuates this disconnect. Throughout our upbringing, we are taught to disregard and even distrust our own physical feelings, the ones that manifest themselves in the form of sensations such as comfort or discomfort. Pressure, tension, ache, itching, pulsating, heat/cold, restriction/expansion, tingling, wetness/dryness is the language of the body. Sensations are the body’s way to speak of feelings and needs. These are the signals that inform of that higher intelligence of inter-relationships, survival and thriving. Body sensations express feelings such as hunger, loneliness and love; these are code for needs to eat, reach out, touch and more. Needs are, in turn, precursors for the necessary actions to be well. Without these actions based on our feelings and needs—and originally on our bodies’ sensations—we would never do what it takes to be well.
Unfortunately, we are relentlessly taught to ignore, dismiss, reject and scorn these signals. From day one, we are indoctrinated through shame, guilt and doubt to label them as useless, selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, lazy, stupid or even evil. It is cultural training that turns us against our Higher Selves—against the very spiritual essence that we are, and that our physical selves “embody”.
The body knows best. There is no need to worry about it turning us into animals or antisocial criminals. The argument is not question of either/or; listen to the body or listen to the mind. Listen to both and put the body in charge. Let the body know, because it does, and it never lies. It is informed by the whole organism’s present-moment condition and inter-relationships, that is, by spirit. The mind simply does not have access to this level of intelligence. Our cognition is informed by other places, other times, other people and situations that, if all goes well, may only apply partially to the complexity of this present moment—or not at all. True guidance into the next healthy action, word, thought or attitude is in being present and surrendering to our physical feelings as they present themselves right now. Use the mind to make sure it is socially acceptable, but never to overrule, reject, ignore or otherwise discredit the body’s truths.
We cannot pray for health while we also poison our bodies with Alcohol or nicotine. We cannot say “I love myself”, and ignore our need for rest, kindness or attention. It is critical we make sure to ground our intentions with our practices— our words, actions and thoughts, including prayer, affirmation and imagery with the true needs dictated by our bodies. In this way, we will be able to sustain the power of our intentions, because they coincide with our experience. This alignment is only possible if the body is the master, and the mind a humble servant. The body knows what we need; the mind knows how to make it happen. First things first: matter (i.e., the body’s wisdom) over mind (i.e., the mind’s powers of reasoning) creates inner connection, which in turn enables the mind to influence the body. This alignment spells inner guidance, health, balance and authenticity.
Yudit Maros, LMFT, CHt, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Ridgefield. She is the author of Apple of My I: The Four Practices of Self-Love, a four-step protocol to tap into the body’s truths and live an authentic life. Connect with her at Center4AuthenticLiving.com. See Community Resource Guide listing, page 76.