What Is Mind-Body Psychology?

A simple explanation of Mind-Body Psychology is how the mind affects the body. There is much more to this quickly developing field. A better descriptive name would be Mind-Body-Spirit Psychology, with mind incorporating both the thinking and emotional aspects of the individual. The interrelationship between the mind and the body have always been hiding in front of us. Now researchers are focusing on this connection and discovering the power each person has within them to affect his or her body simply by controlling thoughts, emotions and becoming spiritually aware.Doctors used to, and I’m sure many still do, say something is “all in your head” when they can’t find a physical reason for a pain. The term used is “psychosomatic.” What is happening in your mind is affecting your body.Now it is commonly accepted that stress can have a negative and destructive effect upon the physical part of yourself. For instance, high blood pressure is frequently stress related. I remember my dad, a pediatrician, saying that his blood pressure fell 10 points when he retired. One common stress related physical problem is muscle pain which is the direct results of tensing the muscles when stressed.Fear has a specific effect upon the body. Blood pressure rises, digestion stops, sex drive disappears and the immune system weakens. This has all been demonstrated by scientific research. When you feel fear the body believes it’s in danger and must do something fast to save itself. The result is shutting down all unnecessary systems of the body (digestion, sex and immune) to give it more energy to concentrate on surviving the now.The problem is that today’s current danger is not a saber tooth tiger that will soon be gone. It is longer lasting fears. This keeps the fight or flight mechanism continually triggered.This is why managing the emotions and thoughts to calm the body is so important. Fear can lead to run away thoughts. For instance, you hear a rumor there are going to be lay-offs. You become afraid you’ll be one to lose your job. You immediately form images of being out on the street with no place to go and nothing to eat. Your physical self, believing your fears for the future are a present danger, responds with the stress reactions mentioned above.When you learn to stay in the present with brief visits to the future to make plans, you keep your mind from over-reacting and moving you into stress. It’s crucial to keep yourself from thinking of every possible negative thing that could happen if you lose your job. It’s positive to develop a long-term plan for a financial disaster by regularly putting money in a rainy day fund.Research has also demonstrated that calming the mind through meditation has a direct positive effect upon the body. If you manage your thoughts, which prevents your emotions from running away from you, and have a spiritual practice, your physical self responds by being healthier.