Use Your Body to Shift Your Mind from a Place of Fear to Empowerment
When your mind is calm, your body follows. The reciprocal is just as true. Your mind responds to what you do with your body. It is a constant feedback loop — what happens in one affects the other.
There are many practices that help our minds relax from the grip of unnecessarily stressful thinking, such as meditation. As we consciously let go of stress, our body can redirect its focus to healing and maintenance.
We can also use our body to bring more peace to our mind. Embodied cognition is a concept that relates how the body’s motor system affects the state of the mind. There are methods that can act as shortcuts to bringing on certain states of mind.
Depending on the mental state we want to achieve, here are 5 simple practices that can be of benefit:
1) DEEP BREATHING
During times of stress, our breathing quickens. When we consciously slow down our breathing, we are letting our mind know that we are ok. When our mind realizes we are safe, it is easier for our bodies to relax.
Our autonomic nervous system has two main branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic system. The first helps prepare us for action, activating the fight or flight response when necessary. The latter aids in relaxation, rest, repair, and digestion. Breathing in activates the sympathetic nervous system. Breathing out activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Consequently, lengthening our exhalations can help us relax further. This is why the advice to take a deep breath when we’re stressed is so common. It offsets the continuous activation of the sympathetic nervous system that we experience when we unconsciously breathe in more than we breathe out.
2) POWER POSING
We are all aware of the power of non-verbal communication. You can tell how well a friend is listening by their level of eye contact and their body posture for example. In the same way, the way we hold our bodies affects what we think about ourselves.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, widely known for her Ted talk on this subject, names this the “postural feedback effect.” When we hold our bodies in a manner that…