The mind-body connection
In a world that is off its center, it’s all the more important that we find our inner center. We often talk about the mind-body connection, but how often do we really get to practice bringing the two together? Over the past years, I’ve developed a powerful resource to connect mind and body through bringing yoga and writing.
To be honest, many years ago, I would have thought that bringing yoga and writing together would water down both the yoga and the writing. After all, how many of my favorite authors did yoga before they wrote? And wasn’t yoga about physical agility?
Ha! I had a lot of misconceptions. That’s understandable: we’re all products of our cultures. I’d gone to traditional academic institutions for 22 years and in those places of higher learning, the mind-body connection is not only not often discussed, but subtly looked down upon. We’ve been encouraged for the past many hundred years to elevate the life of the mind over the life of the body, and in doing so to prioritize those who could get an education over those who couldn’t–in other words, we’ve implicitly been taught to respect the qualities of the traditionally male over the female, the qualities of the well to do over the financially struggling, and in so doing, we prioritize the mind over the body.
Yes, my favorite authors didn’t do yoga before they wrote because those tools weren’t available to them. But thankfully, tools that help us bring mind and body together are now available to us. And no; I was wrong: yoga is not primarily about the physical. Yoga means union, and the physical movements were developed to help yogis access deeper mental and spiritual states.
I’m glad that I’m no longer stuck in a mindset that worries that bringing the mind and body together will water anything down. Now I can’t quite get back into that old mindset, but I can tell you that when we bring our mind and body together, we are able to tap into our full power and authority with ease—we’re no longer just standing on one foot trying to balance or trying to sing while wearing a girdle. We get to access our full self. And that’s powerful stuff!
The benefits of yoga
Many of us know the benefits of yoga—it helps us get comfortable in our bodies and our selves.
We do this not only by stretching and building strength and alignment and re-invigorating our energy flow, but also by bringing our mind to our body. In mindfully attending to our body, we are able to break out of old patterns, heal on much deeper levels, and access new levels of energy.
The benefits of writing
Many of us also know the benefits of writing: we get to communicate our full thoughts, access our creativity and express our voice. Writing can help change our inner lives and also change our outer worlds.
The benefits of writing and yoga together
And yet, many of us don’t think of the benefits of bringing yoga and writing together. In fact, still today, usually yoga and writing are in two separate parts of our life and world, and even today we’re still often given diametrically opposed messages in those two arenas:
In yoga class, we’re told to drop out thoughts, to let them go. In yoga class, we’re taught to let go of the mind.
By contrast, In writing class, we’re told to hold onto those thoughts, to follow them to their farthest point, to make them explicit and in writing class, the space of the body often not only doesn’t have a place, but is subtly looked down upon.
This is an old dichotomy: the life of the body vs the life of the mind. We’re encouraged to keep them separate. This goes back to the Greeks and was codified by Descartes, who believed that the human life was defined by its thinking capacities alone.
Today more and more people are talking about the mind-body connection, but have you noticed how few spaces actually give time and attention to both?
We go to one class for one and to another for the other.
But what happens when we consciously bring you mind and your body into conversation?
3 benefits of mind-body integration:
1) When you allow your mind and body to be in dialogue, you open yourself up to your deeper truths. Very often, your body knows more than your mind. When you invite this dialogue, this deep listening within yourself, your are able safely to listen to your own wisdom, insights and experiences. This deep listening might be challenging at first, but it ultimately allows for much greater freedom, growth and creativity.
2) When you allow your mind and body to be in dialogue, you can drop old, repetitive stories and instead access your full, authentic story. When your mind and body are disconnected, you can get caught in old, negative, repetitive stories. If you bring mind and body together, you have the power to look at your full story with greater ease and compassion. You come back to the organic life force and notice that your stories are vital, not static, and always open to change and growth .
3) When you allow your mind and body to be in dialogue, you can tap into greater energy. If your mind and body are not in comfortable connection with one another, you lose a lot of energy operating two different systems. You try to keep them separate, protecting one against the other. By contrast, when you bring your mind and body together, you become much more energetic. You can tap at once into both your ease and your power because you’re working in alignment with yourself. When we bring yoga and writing together, we change both our inner story, and when we do that, we change the outer story, too.
Read more about yoga and writing and mind-body integration