Our bodies and minds are linked to such an extent that they influence each other. It would, after all, be inevitable that this would not be the case. What is less obvious is that a particular state of mind may be visible from the outside in the posture we assume. If you are sad you will tend to keep your shoulders hunched, if you sense confidence you will keep your torso erect.
Mind and body converse to such an extent that the form taken by the latter sends signals to the mind. It is no accident that a seemingly wacky but very effective piece of advice is to run smiling, even when you would only think of cursing yourself for having the idea to make any effort at all.
This constant dialogue between inside and outside affects us in both senses: if we do not like our bodies, our minds suffer, and vice versa. It would be natural to think that having an ideal body would guarantee happiness or at least peace of mind, but this is not exactly the case.
Body awareness and perception
Sometimes dissatisfaction with one’s body stems from the deficient awareness we have of it. In short, we perceive it in a disturbed form. Why? For a trivial but obvious reason: we do not perceive it, or not completely.
According to Sandra Cerny Minton, dance educator, body awareness comes from proprioception, which detects how the body moves in space. But proprioception is only one of the systems that place our body in space and define how our mind perceives it. In fact, there are also exteroception-that is, sensitivity to stimuli from the senses such as hearing, sight and smell-and enteroception, that is, perception of the inner state of our body, that is, of our internal organs, muscles and everything that is not external to us.
Three types of perception govern the relationship that exists between the body, mind and reality. It is not easy to align them all in a way that makes them talk to each other in a healthy way.
Making them talk to each other
To establish contact and make the mind and body talk, one must first raise awareness of the latter. It is possible to do this by paying attention to the internal sensations of our body while filtering out the external ones. In other words, one should try to eliminate background noise and focus only on the internal voice, which is often covered by external stimuli. How to accomplish this? With some exercises, suggested by Minton.
- Body scan: lie down on a yoga mat and scan your body by sensing every single sensation, from tingling in one foot to twitching in the neck to.
- Sit bending forward first so that you form an arc with your back. Then assume an upright position instead, aligning your shoulders and torso: which one is more comfortable?
- Perform a random figure while looking in the mirror. Repeat it by no longer looking at your reflection. Do you get the same feelings? Does it seem that the body “occupies space” in the same way?
What is the purpose of all this?
The question, as always, is legitimate. What benefit can you get from perceiving your body better? One, for example, is the one we started with: the more dialogue between it and the mind, the more precise the congruence between one and the other.
In short, the dialogue is clearer and more understandable because perceiving one’s body means listening to it and better understanding the signals it sends. Imagine an extreme case: imagine what it would be like to run without having feeling in the soles of your feet. What would it be like not to feel the road, its surface, and how your body reacts when it touches it? Strange and disorienting.
These exercises serve to be more sensitive about it and to keep the communication channel between body and mind as free of disturbance as possible. For the two to understand each other well.
(via Psychology Today)