The Mind Body Connection
The human body is full of mysteries, and everyday science works to try and solve the hidden truths that make each and every one of us unique beings. We have all at times experienced phenomenons that we can’t explain but feel within our body. Feeling itself is a neurological process that sends sensory signals from our environment to our brain, and our brain, through experience, learns what that stimulus means and then responds with a motor (output) signal back to the body to deal with whatever the sensory nervous system is telling us about. It can be good, and it can be bad, but it will respond. If it is a painful stimulus like touching a hot stove, the body moves away from the pain; if it’s a soft warm blanket, we pull it closer to us for comfort.
So, how does the mind and the body really connect together and what does that mean for our health? The collective emotional centers of the brain are referred to as the Limbic system. The Limbic system is a phylogeneticly older part of the nervous system; using comparative anatomy it would be similar to the nervous system of mammals and reptiles. It’s the nervous system below the neocortex. This part of our nervous system works subconsciously and often causes reactions that happen before we even realize they are happening. Again, this is often good as it was designed to protect us and keep us alive, but unfortunately there are often short circuits that are wired into us because of physical or emotional trauma that causes us to continue to act as if we were in danger when we really are not.
We have all seen emotions cause physical reactions in our body. Some classic examples are when you are nervous and your leg shakes uncontrollably or your palms start to sweat or your face gets flushed. We have been surprised and felt our body jerk and jump or scream when we are afraid. We have felt our stomach tie in knots when we are upset. But, did you know that it could be even deeper and more uncomfortable symptoms that arise from emotions as well? Bad headaches or migraines, back pain, neck spasm, shoulder or knee pain, loss of balance and vertigo, irritable bowel and bladder problems all can be rooted deep in the emotions of the nervous system.
Thanks to Candace Pert PhD who wrote “The Molecules of Emotion” and was credited with the discovery of the endorphin receptor in the brain, we know that there is a physiological connection to how we feel! This physiological connection to feelings is how we start to connect the mind and body together. There are many other molecules of emotions also, and based on the different experiences we have, every person’s body can react differently to different situations. We have termed many remembered bad situations as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). We have heard stories of solders returning from war or victims of terrorism suffering from the memories of their trauma. Those are terrible, extreme cases of PTSD, but it can happen from children being bullied at school or abused emotionally, physically, or sexually. Those traumas can haunt a person all their life and truly affect them physically as well.
When it comes to treating patients who have emotional overlays to their health concerns, sometimes the hardest part is recognizing that the emotions are truly the underlying cause of the dis-ease. As mental health has become recognized as being very important in a person’s overall well being and is being utilized more and more, the tricky part is still getting the person to the right therapist and then recognizing the symptoms associated with their distress.
Luckily, now there is a therapy that can take us directly to the understanding of the connection between the mind and the body, and we can see there is a connection between the ailment of an individual and the emotional brain. This system is called Neuro Emotional Technique (NET). Dr. Scott Walker DC, an Applied Kinesiologist, developed NET in the 1980s. Using manual muscle testing, it is possible to see the neurological associations with the emotions and the physical body, and it also can be used to neurologically make changes to emotional patterns that are physically causing distress in the body.
Just like after a good cry or a scream in frustration, the body tends to feel better or at least different afterwards. Getting emotions to release appropriately brings relief to a person and can stop endless cycles of pain or dysfunction that the nervous system has been carrying around for a long time. Luckily, there is a lot of great information continually coming out on emotional health and healing, and I encourage everyone to look at his or her own emotional health. NET is a very quick and effective therapy to relieve emotional stress, but it is not the only therapy. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another great mind-body therapy available. Working with a counselor and therapist often can go hand in hand with these physical therapies, too. Journaling at home also helps us process our emotions as writing is a physical activity that can activate emotional centers and bring the subconscious to the conscious level.
As GI Joe says “knowing is half the battle,” and we don’t know what we don’t know, but now you know that chronic health ailments often can have an emotional underlying cause along with the physical manifestation. I encourage you to seek out and find a practitioner who can help you identify if there is something from your emotional past that can be worked on to help you recover quicker and live a more healthy, more natural, and more optimal life.