Research Paper By Christina Rauska
(Personal Coach, CANADA)
Our bodies constantly transmit codes and signals that help us understand the state that it is in. A peculiar rash may indicate a previously unknown food allergy. A headache may point to a lack of fluid intake. A fever may point to an infection. Since the writing of the bible and perhaps before that, our bodies have been referred to as our ‘temples’, meaning that they should be respected and treated as sacrosanct. However, like a church, mosque, synagogue or temple, the body is also a place that houses and relays deep knowledge.
Just as we create our own lives moment to moment with our thoughts and emotions, we’ve also decided what’s humanly possible and what isn’t. Similarly, we also think our morals and values are absolute, but actually they’re just a bunch of thoughts and beliefs that we’ve adopted over time as being true.(Moorjani A. p.150)
The body is a giant piece of intricate and infinite wisdom. When fully connected and aligned with the mind, our bodies can tell to gage what path to follow, which decision to choose and what we need to access our own healing just as much as our brain or understanding can. The strong connection between body and mind has the potency to heal our external lives in order to move forward from events deemed to be ‘holding you back’ and move on to live a life that is joyous, prosperous and rewarding. By using coaching tools, a coach is able to partner with the client in order to support them on the journey of awareness and connectivity between the body and mind.
The body and mind are connected and not separate entities. When the two are treated as separate, an imbalance is created in the person as a whole and can be the basis for life seeming to move out of balance. Our bodies hold a mirror up to the activity of both the mind and the ‘soul’.
People describe intuition as a feeling inside that must be listened too. Where in your body does that resonate?
When you consider the phrase ‘listen to your heart’, what does it suggest that the heart is capable of? Likewise, once often hears the term ‘it’s a gut feeling’ and ‘I can feel it in my bones’. Though often used as a mere idiom, these sayings insinuate that our bodies are indeed speaking or transmitting messages or intuition to faculties of understanding. This is because they do. In her book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’, motivational author Louise Hay writes about a time when she was an experiencing anger which she did not understand;
‘Experiences and emotions can get locked in the body. I had a pain in my shoulder. I tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t go away. Finally, I sat down and asked myself, ‘What is happening here? What am I feeling?’ I realized it feels like burning. Burning means anger. I asked myself, what are you angry about?’ (68).
In an attempt to uncover the source of this rage, she decided to strike her pillows until the reason surfaced. The next day, her shoulder did not hurt anymore.
Just as emotional symptoms can manifest in the organs, muscles, nerves and bones, your mind (wherein your emotions are felt) sends signals into the body signifying needs or changes that are required. The following study underlines the ‘full circle’ nature that connects the signals that the mind transmits and the symptoms with which the body reacts.
Hilgard and Orne have studied this. They placed participants in a hypnotic trance and through unconscious hypnotic suggestion told the participants they would be touched with a “red hot” piece of metal when they were actually touched with a pencil.
The participants in a deep trance had a skin reaction (water blisters) just as if they had been touched with burning metal. This is an example of the mind controlling the body’s reaction. Similar results have been found on patients given hypnosis to control pain.’ (McLeod, S. A)
In Anita Moorjani’s book ‘Dying to be Me’, she details how she made the choice to ‘let go’ of the cancer that had taken over her body. Lay prone in a hospital bed having been informed by doctors that she had just hours left to live, Moorjani entered a state of unconsciousness, in which she had an out of body experience. She explains the revelation which followed;
‘I realized that I can’t say this strongly enough, but our feelings about ourselves are actually the most important barometer for determining the condition of our lives. In other words, being true to ourselves is more important than just trying to stay positive’ (p.157).
Moorjani believed that her cancer was created by fears that she harboured. Her mind was listening to these fearful convictions and the decisions she had made based on them. The cancer was a physical manifestation of these irrational and unnecessary worries, created tangibly in a form that was about to end her life.
Our thoughts and emotions affect our bodies in the same way that our bodies are affected by our thoughts. Let us consider the following case from a client I coached as part of a 12 week coaching arrangement.
Sandra came to coaching with the express desire to feel more positive about her physical appearance, wanting to gain self-esteem, lose weight, and end her addiction to sugar. She wanted to stop feeling so tired of life and to gain focus on her application for graduate school.
The more attached I am to certain ways of thinking or outcomes or the more fearful I am of new adventures, the slower the development will be, because I’m not open to the process. Am not allowing universal life energy to flow through me naturally. (Moorjani A. p.161)
Through the coaching process she discovered she was actually content with her size. She came to acknowledge her hips, her round legs, and her curvaceous figure. She released the judgement she had been putting on her body size and started to like how she looked. With the use of daily affirmations, her body began to respond to them and she realized her addiction to sugar was not the sole source of her consistent weight gain, but that it was her inability so far to appreciate the ‘sweetness’ in her life. This errant self-satisfaction was lacking because the negative light she held herself in. After identifying some of her underlying beliefs about beauty and food, and without even making a conscious effort or determined effort to diet or avoid the foods she believed she enjoyed, the weight started to fall off steadily.
Through coaching, Sandra dug into her values and the way in which they had shaped her life’s purpose. She came to realize that it was her father’s dream for her to attend graduate school and not her own. Her plans changed dramatically. As the mental and physical weight fell away, she gained more in the form of self-confidence and realised one of her own dreams. She started writing stand-up comedy routines in the hope of one day being confident enough to perform them on stage. This was something that she had always dreamed of, but negativity had succeeded in pushing this ambition to the back of her mind where it festered as failure. Her coach held her accountable and mutually, structures were put in place which created a timeline for her inaugural performances would take place. The wheels were in motion. Sandra felt the connection between body and mind and she listened attentively as it noted signals from her body. She expressed the feeling of being alive more than she had felt in a long time. Her body and mind were connected,
therefore her soul felt aligned.
The mind is the key to losing weight. When the mind is satisfied, the body quits craving too much food. –Deepak Chopra
Sandra could feel how her thoughts affected her body. When she was in a negative mood, she would be harder on her physical self in the mirror. She would remind herself she wasn’t as thin as she would like to be, and start to crave sugar, which she would end up eating. Those thoughts would spiral into thoughts of her self-worth as a comedian. Physically, she would feel ‘sick to her stomach’ when this type of thinking was chosen. Soon Sandra could see the difference between the choice of thought and how to read the sensations in her body in order to stop or change the thoughts to benefit her.
‘Notice how your body reacts to the introduction of a positive thought. Your body loves it. More serotonin gets released immediately the moment you choose a more positive perspective. You can feel the levels of stress and anxiety decrease right away, and all you did was say some words in your mind that were equally as true and valid as the ones that were causing you suffering.’ (Bancarz, Steven) Just as in this excerpt, Sandra could feel the effects of changing her thoughts, and the effect they has on her physically.
She started performing in small open mic events in which she was well received; she was making people laugh. She had never felt this great before. In no time at all, she was invited to open for a professional touring comedian. Life was being lived at a continual high. She was soaring, confident and in love with herself; body and mind. She had more energy and she was feeling good about the way she looked. She admired herself in the mirror and appreciated what was looking back at her.
This is a great example of how our bodies react to emotion, and vice versa. Sandra felt good; she lost weight easily. Sandra felt bad; it was difficult for her to lose the weight. Sandra listened to her father’s intentions for the path she should follow; she felt tired. Saundra listened to her own dreams; her body responded with energy and enthusiasm. This is the link between body and mind. When the client is able to clearly see and feel the link between body and mind, only then dreams are realized. As Sandra and her coach explored Sandra’s feelings and beliefs, they honed in on the connection of body-mind, and Sandra was able to use this connection when making other decisions that life had to offer her going forward.
In the article ‘Prime Your Gray Cells’ , Dr. Aubele states, ‘Your inner thoughts will always be reflected in your outer circumstances, because self-generated changes in your life are always preceded by changes in the way you think about something.’(Aubele, Ph.D, T., & Reynolds, S.) Having a coach to support the body-mind connection enabled Sandra to realize her dreams. Her dreams ultimately shifted and Sandra both felt happier and thought happier.
Another example of how a coach can support the body/mind connection is seen in a case involving a client named . arrived at coaching because she had been diagnosed with an immune deficiency disease. She made her very ill in a very short period of time. After being hospitalized, responded well to treatment and was released in 8 days. However, in a follow up consultation, was informed that she would need to remain on a combination of medication for the rest of her life if she hoped to avoid a relapse. The specialist also stated that her condition was probably genetic though could not state the cause and that it was in no way linked to the extreme stress Terrie had been under in the months before she fell ill. Terrie already held a strong belief in the mind-body connection, though this did not always prevent her from falling into negativity and stress. She needed support from her coach. She wanted to get off medication for good. Her doctor and family however wanted her to simply take the ‘magic pill’ and live the ‘safe’ way. It was very important for Terrie to have a life without medication and to support her health through proper nutrition and a healthy attitude instead.
Every thought you think and every word you think is being responded to, and the point of power is in the moment (Hay L. p.65)
Terrie firmly believed that she had created the disease; that her feelings and attitudes had made her body react and create this quality-of-life affecting illness. By believing this, she was certain she could reverse it. She wasn’t getting the support she wanted from her doctor besides a detailed and expensive prescription, and her family constantly expressed fears that a relapse would happen if she got off the medications.
The coach supported Terrie by giving her space to digest what had happened to her body and what it meant to her to heal naturally. Terrie continued on the medication, whilst she brainstormed with the coach and explored uses for alternative healing therapies to work alongside it. She found a naturopath, a healer and re-committed to the yoga practice that had waned in the advent of university exams alongside the birth of her first child. Both with her coach and in her daily affirmations, Terrie visualized a healthy body and mind; both free of disease. She started to feel their effects. She meditated and reflected in a journal. The coach helped Terrie create structures around her new routines and examined the meanings they had for her. Coaching was a supportive space outside the suffocating constraints of her family and doctor as Terrie was felt acknowledged and listened to, which in turn helped her continue her healing mission.
After only 7 short weeks, Terrie had regained almost all of the previous muscle mass she had lost to the illness. She was feeling vibrant and alive. She had convinced the doctor that she had control over this disease and he was beginning to wean her off the medication. He performed a test to look into her healing progression and used words like ‘miracle’ and ‘amazing’ when viewing the results. He told her that he had never seen a case where someone went into remission so quickly.
Conversely, as normality returned Terrie began to repeat her former mistakes of overloading her work schedule and not accepting help with care of her daughter. Immediately the beginning stages of the illness would manifest in various ways in her body. She recommitted to the process developed with her coach and health was immediately restored. The doctors had told her that any of these symptoms would lead to another full blown flare up of the disease. Terrie found that this was not the case.
Terrie had taken clues from her body on how to proceed with her healing. By getting the support she needed from her coach, through active listening, deep questioning, space, setting up structures and acknowledgement, Terrie remained confident that her body-mind connection was largely a tool for her healing.
How Coaching can help with Body-Mind Connection.
The coach creates a trusting, light and confidential space for the client to grow, reflect, dream and learn. The mind feels listened too and the body responds in kind.
The coach asks questions to aid the client in identifying what it is they want and need, what is important to them and why it is important. Underlying beliefs are discovered, walls are broken down, and perspectives are reframed. The body gives signals as to what it is that is true to the client. The client becomes aware of these sensations and discovers how to read them and use them.
When you connect to the silence within you that is when you can make sense of the disturbance going on around you.- Stephen Richards
The client and coach explore possibilities for goals to be met. The mind and body work together and act in synchronicity to help create the blueprint for the intentions to come into fruition. The coach encourages the client to remember that they hold the key to their desires. Within them lies all the answers and methods.
The coach acknowledges the client for wins small and large. This enables the client to feel lighter, satisfied, and encouraged to keep building upon their ‘wins’. By getting acknowledged our bodies feel the benefit physically, experiencing a lighter happier feeling; we feel worthy.
It’s absolutely likely that positive emotions can improve your immune function.’ After conducting a study, Collingwood determined that, ‘People with negative emotional styles would be more likely to develop the flu. (Collingwood, J.)
The coach helps guide the client into visualizations to support what the client desires to know or have. The exploration of the body and mind connection is encouraged through inquired feelings and sensations during the visualization exercises and how they are working together to get a desired outcome.
‘An exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads”. He found that a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. However, the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%). This average remained for 3 months following the mental training.’ (LeVan, A.)
There are many studies that prove that visualizations work toward achieving goals. When the mind and body are not used in separation, but are aligned, we become that much more powerful at achieving our dreams.
In Conclusion, the mind/body connection is a valuable tool for us to really know what our souls want and need in order to live a fruitful life. With support from a coach to achieve or maintain this incredible connection, the client is sure to profit.
Aubele, Ph.D, T., & Reynolds, S. (2011, August 22). Prime Your Gray Cells. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201108/happy-brain-happy-life
Bancarz, Steven, (2014) 5 Spiritual Practices That Will Transform Your Life! , Retrieved from http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/
Collingwood, J. (2014, October). Study Probes How Emotions Affect Immune System.Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/22/study-probes-how-emotions-affect-immune-system/70192.html
Hay, Louise L., You Can Heal Your Life, Unites States, Hay House, Inc., 1984, Print
LeVan, A. (2009, December 3). Seeing is believing: The Power of Visualization. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization
McLeod, S. A. (2007). Mind Body Debate. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/mindbodydebate.html
Moorjani, Anita, Dying To Be Me, Unites States, Hay House, Inc., 2012, Print
Bancarz, Steven., 5 Spiritual Practices That Will Transform Your Life! , Retrieved from http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/