This month’s newsyletter has been delayed somewhat for a few reasons. I was taking a clinical training course at Harvard on Mind-Body Medicine. I also linked that opportunity to see my family for a short while as well. Work and play, learning and living, colleagues and children – how to connect?
That’s it. If I can make one broad brush stroke that could bind the most vital aspects of the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ parts of my trip, it would be about connection.
While I’ve been experiencing the power of the connection between mind and body for many years now, to many others it seems to be a sometimes novel or new approach to health and performance – and these are some really smart, dynamic and forward-thinking players within the allopathic/western medical world. It’s just that the connection between mind and body, whether through training or exposure, hadn’t yet been made. That a mind that is relaxed (or at least acknowledged) can positively affect bodily function doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, but it is surprisingly new to others.
The important connection I received during the training, however, was access to a vast amount of scientifically evidence-based research that supported the mind-body connection. While there have been thousands of years to ‘prove’ the efficacy of working both with mind and body for general health, the studies done that show scientific results may help some people take the step to connect with this powerful yet relatively undocumented ‘phenomenon’.
Connecting self-care into medical practices may shift focus from disease and failings of the body (mind), to wellness, creating an impetus to promote both physical and mental resiliency for greater general (life) health.
Studies charting resilient people showed there were four points that seemed to repeat themselves (also Cs) – commitment, control, challenge, and community. All of these, when understood and practiced, support mind health which positively affects our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. So let’s just take a brief look at these four aspects connection to the mind, and see how the idea of connection enhances and supports them.
Commitment – it’s about full participation. I’ve spoken about the damaging power of the word ‘try’. With it the subconscious mind takes ‘try’ as a potential option ‘out’ or as anticipation of a failure (“Well I tried that and it didn’t work…”). Commitment to whatever you’re doing/being takes its lesson from the Yoda school of life/change – “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” Commitment means that you have to get off the fence and go ahead with whatever it is. It might mean that you still do fail in the end (which is one of the reasons people don’t commit in the first place), or you might succeed (which is another reason why people are nervous about committing as well) but in committing you give 100% of yourself to the goal – you become connected and committed to an outcome. I’ve taken a look at some of the projects and situations and relationships that surround me and am amazed to see some less-than-committed ‘tries’ I’ve been making recently. That’s ok, because at least by connecting to the present reality, I’m inspired to recommit in a number of areas and ways.
Control – it’s a matter of perception. We have control over our part in every relationship, business deal, exchange and event… Sometimes it’s our actions and at other times it’s our reactions. Even when we make mistakes or over-react, it is within our control to learn from them, connect with our worthiest and wisest parts and move on. It doesn’t mean that we need to take responsibility for things that have nothing to do with us, but acknowledging that we have a locus of control and really connecting with that allows us to deal with life in a more assured way. Substantiating this, within medical research, those patients who felt that they had some say or control in their own health situation tended to heal more quickly and completely. You might want to look at the areas of your life that seem out of your control and aim to find at least one way in which you have power to change, if not the situation, yourself.
Challenge – in the varied nature of life, the ‘tough’ times can be seen as challenges rather than obstacles. An obstacle is a block or a wall or an end that stops or delays us from what we (think we) want. A challenge, on the other hand, can be seen as a bonus, and extra, to help us build our ‘life muscles’ on the way to our destination. When we see difficulties as challenges, we connect with expansion and growth possibilities, broadening our scope and encouraging us to keep going. When faced with a challenge, you might want to ask “what can I learn from this?” or “what do I need to do/be/discover so that I can move forward” – when you phrase it that way to the subconscious mind, your super-computer will start working on solutions to those positive questions.
Community – we find it in different places. It has been shown that people who have support networks recover from the ‘downs’ and illnesses/accidents of life much more quickly than those without. This is where connection is most apparent – the human connection (made more difficult sometimes by advancement in technical cocooning ) is key in our resilience and general health. I’ve heard that 3 hugs a day boosts immune functioning – even if it’s an urban legend, I’d be willing to give it a shot. Take a moment and consider your community – both quality and quantity, local or distant, family or friends or acquaintances… are there ways you can enhance them, revive them or connect with people on a more profound level. Take a moment to be thankful for the connections you have within your own personal community and you may discover ways (a quick note or call, plans for an outing or experience together, an apology) to make those important bonds even stronger.
In any case, my training and time with my family have expanded my connection to information, professional knowledge, colleagues around the world; with cultural experiences, learning from the past, and bonding with people I love. And I look forward to many more valuable connections in the future.
Great to connect with you again,