Weight Loss and The Mind-Body Connection

Why do some people put on weight more easily than others? Is metabolism, diet and exercise the whole story?

mind-bodyWhat about people who tend to put on weight in some areas of the body more so than others? What does it mean?

The mind-body connection contributes more to weight gain and weight distribution than most of us realise. The body responds to ‘issues in the tissues’ – in other words, we hold emotion in our bodies. This is the essence of the mind-body connection: our thoughts influence the shape, structure and functioning of our bodies and our bodies reinforce in our mental or emotional state.

How can the mind influence the state of the body?When we have an emotional reaction or an emotionally-charged thought, they become e-motion or energy in motion. This energy in motion causes an involuntary chemical and physical reaction in the body. A physical reaction to emotion occurs on several levels:

  • Certain muscles contract or release often resulting in a change in our posture;
  • The brain releases or modulates chemicals according to the type of emotion;
  • Blood flow increases or decreases throughout the body; and
  • Our breath becomes more shallow and/or rapid so our oxygen intake decreases.

These physical effects are instantaneous and often unconscious. The more extreme the emotion is, the more we will feel it in our bodies. Without our bodies, we could not feel; for a thought to have power it has to be anchored in the physical body as an emotion.

So how does this process of e-motion or energy in motion actually have a lasting effect on the body?The simple answer is habit. When we become ingrained in a certain pattern of being, living, reacting, interacting with the world, our body starts to manifest the habit in a physical form. When the same muscles contract continually over time, the dominant muscle tissue becomes stronger and can cause weakness in the opposing muscle, create lines (wrinkles) in the skin and can even pull the bone structure out of alignment. Structural changes in the face and body primarily occur during childhood given that the bones are still forming. It’s similar to living a lifetime with poor posture: the muscles take some time to retrain into their correct position.

So how does emotion cause weight gain? It all comes down to muscle tension. When there is long-standing tension in a group of muscles, the body’s natural reaction is to ‘de-sensitise’ itself to the tension. It does this by distributing extra fatty tissue to the affected area of the body. This process is similar to the emotional tendency we all have which is to ‘sweep it under the carpet’, or ignore the pain for as long as possible until we have no choice but to confront it. You will find that if you press hard enough through excess fatty tissue, that there is underlying tension in the muscle. It hurts!

Of course, even long-standing muscle tension can be released. There are several ways to do this from a psychosomatic perspective:

  • Bodywork that focuses on certain emotional release points in the body to ‘unlock’ the stored emotion or ‘cellular memory’.
  • Awareness of the connection between different parts of the body and particular emotions or life lessons and using this understanding to release any past memories that are stored in the body.
  • Yoga or similar physical activity that incorporates gentle stretching and mind focus to consciously release tension in the body.

It comes down to this: the more you shed your emotional issues, the less tension you will hold in your body and the more freely you will ‘metabolise’ life. When you become ‘weighed down’ by life, your body responds accordingly!

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! The potential for change on a physical and mental level is unlimited when we come to understand the link between the body and the mind. Psychosomatic therapy uses the knowledge of the mind-body connection to bring awareness to our unconscious habits in order to effect positive change in both our bodies and our minds. It provides a means for profiling a personality and using this information to effect change in habits.

Originally published here

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