“I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think.” – Moshe Feldenkrais
The separation of mind and body has been a long-standing and, quite honestly, damaging philosophical discussion that we still feel the effects of today. The power of the mind body relationship is doubted at every turn. 17th-century French philosopher Rene Descartes wrote the now-immortal words “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), which served as the starting point for his argument of the distinction between the mind and the body. We now know that the mind and consciousness stem from the connections between neurons in the brain rather than an idea of a soul or spirit trapped inside a corporeal form. We daily see the effects that the mind has on the body and that the body has on the mind, such as when our heart races from some perceived danger or when our thoughts experience the calming tones of a musical piece.
Placebo and the Mind Body Relationship
Perhaps the best illustration of the inseparability of the body and mind and their ability to inform and influence each other is the measurable effect a placebo can have on a patient. We take a sugar pill or receive a false injection or undergo a sham procedure and our condition improves. Rather than a way to trick your perception into thinking you are healthier than reality suggests, placebos have been shown to create real, tangible changes within the body; even in studies where subjects knew they were receiving a placebo, significant changes occurred. In terms of our actions and movements, what does this suggest?
It is not a just matter of convincing the mind to cure the body. It would be silly, if not offensive, to suggest that cancer patients can “think” themselves better. For such a terrible physical disease, intense medical attention is needed. However, since we know that performing the action of taking a placebo changes our bodies physically, can we not consider that sufferers of psycho-somatic diseases and disorders, such as depression or ADHD, might benefit from further study of this phenomenon? And if a placebo can induce changes in the body, the same can be said for therapeutic somatic movement training like the Feldenkrais Method. But think. Does an efficacious treatment not cease to be “placebo” and become just “medicine” or “therapy”?
Focusing On the Mind Body Relationship
Consciousness, or the mind, is just one part of our body, composed of the many neural connections housed inside our head. It is in tune with what is going on in the body via the nervous system, from pleasure to discomfort and pain. Likewise, our body can feel the effects of chemical imbalance in the brain. Being aware of where our bodies feel discomfort or pain is the first step to finding a remedy. To become more conscious of our bodies, we must pay attention to how our movements affect the interconnection between body parts. By focusing on our movements, we can signal to the brain where we need reparative attention.
At Coach Somatics, we see the effects every day that proper movement can have on the entirety of the mind body relationship.
October is Physical Therapy Month, so there is no better time to explore your options. Call us today with any questions or to set up an appointment.
Carol is a physical therapist, a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence. Focus, Align, Teach and Inspire! These qualities not only describe her work, but they also describe her presence. She is passionate when it comes to reconnecting learning with human function and health. Carol is in private practice at MontgomerySomatics.com in Columbus, Indiana.