The interconnections of body and mind, stretch one, the other changes too
Accepted wisdom in the west seems to be that our mind and our body are two separate things. This doesn't much change, despite no-one being able to find the 'mind' as an entity anywhere inside the body. It seems to me (and to many others) that mind and body are the same thing, two different expressions of whatever it is that we are. When we change one, the other changes.
I was viscerally reminded of this when stretching recently. It had been having a tough few days, feeling tense and uptight, but not being sure why. During a yoga session I stretched out the front of my body, and felt a rush of energy spreading out from my chest in all directions. It was as if something had released. In the moment I enjoyed the tingling, but in the hours afterwards was taken by the anxious tension having gone, leaving me feeling balanced and open.
Clients often comment on the same process at work when they are in counselling. As they express what is happening for them, putting it into words, they feel their body releasing. Oftentimes a client's posture, muscle tone and/or facial expression changes significantly as a session progresses. They may leave walking taller, feeling looser or just sensing they are more relaxed.
When you are anxious and worried, it's easy to start worrying about your worrying. A vicious cycle starts where anxiety builds on anxiety. The physical expression of this is for the body to tighten up, as if to steel us against harm. My recent experience reminded me that the body offers a direct and effective way to break this cycle. Stretch. Whether it's yoga, the kind of stretches you do after exercising, or just a gentle set of movements that get your body flowing a bit, when you feel tight, move. Moving your body moves your mind, it can't not.
To work on the underlying issues that can cause and perpetuate bodily tension, counselling can be helpful. You might supplement this with other ways of expressing yourself too, from singing and dancing, to art or journalling. The important thing is to let emotions and thoughts flow through you, making sure they do not get stuck and fester.
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About Fe Robinson
Fe Robinson is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor working in Durham on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Her mission is to enable clients to find peace and contentment, whatever their life circumstances. Fe is UKCP accredited and BACP registered, offers EMDR, and holds a diploma in supervision.