Using Your Body to Transform Your Mind: A Practical Guide

Our own body is the best tool for demonstrating the age-old adage:

As you think, so shall you become.

This ancient truth has been expounded in countless ways over the millennia. It is what all of the great men and women of our history came to learn and believe without a shred of doubt through their own living experience. But, just like all of the other great and simple truths of life, few of us choose to really internalize, believe, and apply these principles of eternal wisdom. If we are lucky, some circumstance in our life will hit us on the head and offer us a glimpse into some aspect of the true nature of reality. Though ultimately great blessings, these situations can be extremely trying and difficult. If we are wise, we will constantly seek truth in our everyday life situations, and by law of the ancient principles, we will become more in line with that which we are seeking.

Okay, great. So, what does all of that have to do with the body?

Our bodies are living proof of the awesome reality that whatever we think and whatever we believe becomes so.

Consider the typical human condition:

We spend most of our waking hours rummaging around in our mind. The majority of our thought content is useless at best and systemically destructive at worst. The stories that we tell ourselves are often riddled with anxieties, fears, worries, and resentments.

As the mind sucks all of the energy out of the body to sustain our infinitely elaborate life story, physical tension begins to develop in the muscles of the head, neck, and throat.

Our body literally becomes a physical representation of the general quality or theme of our life story. When the quality of our thoughts is low, and the theme of our life is fear, we can count on our body to project a corresponding image to the world. We clench our jaw, we furrow our brow, we hold our tongue. The muscles in our eyes literally become fatigued from fixating on our mental images. Not surprisingly, the rest of the body begins to follow suit. The shoulders roll forward, the ribcage collapses over the abdomen, and the pelvis tucks itself in. We essentially live our lives out in the fetal position. As we age, our musculoskeletal system hardens and becomes fossilized in this primitive position of safety and security—a totally natural and predictable response to the messages it receives from headquarters (the mysterious gray blob that we call the brain). Unfortunately, the obvious effect of fearful thought patterns on the musculoskeletal system is just the tip of the iceberg. The quality of our habits eventually permeates every cell in our body, leading to insufferable suffering, and inevitably, our untimely demise.

“Well, that’s depressing.”

Or, is it? If negative thought patterns put our body in a state of physical tension, then positive thought patterns must do the opposite. But, anyone who has tried changing their thought patterns with the same brain that created them knows that this is extremely difficult, if not impossible. As Albert Einstein said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. So, how do we change our level of consciousness? Our thought habits are incredibly powerful, and they eventually override even our best-guided efforts. They simply have too much momentum behind them from years of re-enforcement. To add to this already bleak trajectory, our physical body is deeply entrenched in postural and movement habits that support our current level of consciousness. So, if we manage to change our thoughts for a few hours, our body will eventually remind our brain that we are just a small, scared fetus, and we will almost immediately revert into our dominant modus operandi. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Yeah. Profoundly depressing.”

Actually, not at all. We just need to work backwards.

If the physical state of our body is a product of the quality of our thoughts, then that means changing the state of our body will change the state of our mind.

You can experience a concrete example of this by consciously correcting your posture. This simple adjustment has a noticeable impact on your state of mind. You immediately feel lighter, clearer, and more energized. This is the miraculous feedback loop of the human system at work—first-hand evidence of “you reap what you sow”. Here’s a more scientific article about the enormous effects of posture.

So, how do we change the physical state of our body? Funny enough, the answer begins with the mind. We have to develop a forgotten type of intelligence, a fundamentally different mode of thinking. This involves using the brain as a tool of sensing and perceiving rather than labeling and categorizing. We have to decide to pay attention to the body and make a conscious effort to feel what it’s doing. We have to develop an acute and subtle awareness of our physical state.

photo courtesy of Happy Well Lifestyle

Where are we gripping? Where are we holding? Where is there a gnawing sense of discomfort that you’re not able to pinpoint exactly? We have to deliberately focus on the way we physically feel so that we do not get sucked back into the vacuum of our habitual mind. Eventually, we learn that cultivating this sharp and objective awareness initiates a fundamental shift in the way we use the body. As we continue this practice, the mind begins to loosen its grip on the body. We become more upright, and we break out of the fetal position. We begin to feel our blood and our energy flowing through parts of our body that we had previously been numb to. This makes us feel vibrantly alive. We start to believe that we can create real change because we are seeing it happen in our own body by our simple decision to put conscious effort on objectively observing our physical state of being.

As our body becomes more open, so does our mind.

We begin to think more clearly. We know how to solve problems that had previously caused us great trouble. We are less trapped in the prison of our mental stories. When we experience this first hand, we can move forward in our lives with the same confidence and certainty of all the great masters of our time. We will know the truth of the powerful maxim that whatever we think about, we bring about. We understand that the macro mimics the micro. That is, the same principles that apply to our individual reality also apply to the entire universe of reality. And the implications of this great truth are incredibly empowering, to say the least.

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