Body in motion Fitness

Can the body channel the mind?

Fit young man doing push-ups exercise in gym

Fit young man doing push-ups exercise in gym   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

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There’s a two-way communication between the body and mind, and yet, we put undue pressure on the latter to make our decisions

A lot is said about the mind affecting the body. Its power and potential to elevate or thwart performance is a not a new subject, though it’s been gaining traction lately under the umbrella of ‘mindfulness’. One cannot deny the role of the mind in pushing us to seek higher ground. But in the mind-body highway, is it a one-way street of influence?

We know that we struggle to start, continue, or excel at anything until we completely apply the power of our mind and attention to it. But ever faced a situation where you’ve realised that the best way to get started is… simply to get started? That thinking about it is only making you go around in circles with nothing coming out of it really?

Upside down?

The body and mind are interconnected. That we know. But what we sometimes forget is that this connection operates more in the nature of a horseshoe effect than linear. Meaning, the body has its own capacity to influence the mind in ways we may not give it credit for.

The body is the conduit through which we absorb sensory perceptions of the world around us. It also serves as a measure of our physical strength, position, balance and ability to perform movement: day-to-day or extraordinary. A body that looks, behaves and performs well is a source of pleasure and joy, while a sick or diseased body negatively impacts the mind and adversely impacts our emotional state. Any athlete and anybody in chronic pain or state of dysfunction will corroborate these opposite states.

What’s the point?

Not utilising the inherent potential of the body to serve you better — physically, mentally and emotionally — is only looking through half the prism. If we agree that the body is our vessel, then isn’t keeping a good, clean, healthy, functional vessel important? And the best way to maintain a good vessel is to do whatever it takes! An act is not really an act until it is performed, no matter how much in detail we may have thought it through or visualised it.

Movement provides a powerful tool for developing and practising mindfulness, in addition to the widely discussed health benefits. Perform an activity with focus and control, and you realise that the mind stops wandering amidst distractions, attention instinctively shifts to one’s breath and there is a heightened perception of one’s spatial being. Pay attention not just to the parts that are moving but also those supporting the movement, and you develop a deeper sense of control. All this helps centre the mind, and even emotions! A shloka from the Natya Shastra puts it succinctly:

“Yatho Hasta thatho Drishti, Yatho Drishti thatho Manah

Yatho Manah thatho Bhaava, Yatho Bhaava thatho Rasa”

Where the hands (hasta) are, go the eyes (drishti); where the eyes are, goes the mind (manah); where the mind goes, there is an expression of inner feeling (bhaava) and where there is feeling, mood or sentiment - experience (rasa) is evoked.

It’s said that the body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in. It’s also the only place you have to live. You need to take care of your body. And the best way to take care of it is to use it the way nature intended.

Vani B Pahwa is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist, a Master Rehab Trainer, a Functional Movement, Barefoot Training Specialist, BarefootRX Rehab Specialist, Foot & Gait Analyst, and a BOSU Personal Trainer. She is also a Mohiniyattam dancer

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 2:55:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/the-mind-body-connection/article25817750.ece

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