By: Benjamin Cole
In this week's blog we are going to dive deep into what is a mind-body practice, examples of such, and the primary benefits of doing it regularly. Be sure to check out this week's corresponding Instagram post that covers three main points from why you should be engaged in some kind of mind-body practice.
What is a Mind-Body Practice?
Definitions from a brief internet search of the term "mind-body practice" provides a loose and vague definition of what it is and alludes that one needs a teacher or practitioner to show them. While a teacher is always beneficial, anybody can engage in a mind-body practice today. However, if one is to receive the full benefits of the practice of their choosing a teacher or practitioner is recommended.
A mind-body practice is one that, unlike traditional seated meditation or regular exercise, is a mindful way of unifying the body, mind, and breath in some form of unified harmonious movement. Yoga, Pilates, Reki, Qigong, and Tai-chi are forms of potent and remarkably powerful forms of mind-body practices.
They allow you to move your body with intention, be mindful of your breathing, and breathe in and through the movements prescribed by the practice. Each has a slightly different flow and set of principles that underlay it, but fundamentally the goals are the same: harmony in movement, mindfulness, resilience, and ease of stress or tension.
It's important to note that exercise like weightlifting or cardio can 'technically' be considered a mind-body practice because the body and mind are working together to achieve wellness. However, there is a disconnect between that and the practices mentioned here. These are typically done with the goal in mind of easing tension, generating healing bodily energy, and harmonizing subtle energy systems in the body.
What are some of the benefits?
Benefits of mind-body practices are wide ranging and abundant. Many people report feeling lighter, calmer, more aware or focused, and in some cases even healing injuries, their mental health, and altering or ending behavioral addictions. Major institutions are now recognizing mind-practices as a legitimate way to offset health issues like high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety.
Moreover, practices like this show you how to ease the mind and unify the breath with the movement of the body. Often we don't realize how our movements don't synchronize with our breath and much of our stress comes from poor breathing patterns and postural distortions. These practices seek to correct this by creating a space every day or every week where we mindfully harmonize all these factors.
One benefit that's overlooked is nervous system sensitivity. Many practitioners report being able to feel their body and their senses in a heightened fashion they weren't previously able to tap into. Things like intuition, gut feelings, and subtle knowings are all amplified with dedicated and consistent practice.
Lastly, by engaging in the practice of your choosing, you will likely achieve a very relaxed state that brings your brain into low brainwave states like alpha and even delta. These states have been shown to increase the 'bridge' between the subconscious and conscious mind, allowing practitioners information that may be helpful to their own or others healing.
What practice should I choose?
The mind-body practice you choose is going to personally rooted in what resonates with you and what values of the system aeew. As said, the fundamental goals are the same; what differs is what the practices teach as its underlaying value system.
For example, yoga's fundamentals are good posture, right breathing, and mindful mantra with meditation. The system itself is actually deeper than that: yoga is ancient Hindu practice that doubles as belief system with a lush, rich history steeped in tradition and culture. Yoga loosely means in Sanskrit 'to join' or 'to unite.' You are uniting the energy systems of the body. Many feel called to the practice just for the connection to the culture and some find themselves falling in love with yoga through the culture.
Qigong is similar in that in has a deep-rooted philosophy underpinning the principles it provides for practitioners. It teaches that human beings are the sacred bridge between earth and sky and that the practice itself is a way to unify the body, mind, and spirit to the energy of the earth and cosmos.
Both practices are to achieve the same aim: wellness, harmony, and ease of living. What practice you choose is up to you and what you draw to yourself. Oftentimes practitioners report that their practice "chose them." Maybe that'll be the case for you! Set your intention and you will find the right fit.
Mind-body practices have a rich history in many ancient cultures and this short piece is intended to show you some of the benefits and how you might be able to choose the right one for you. I hope this piece opened you to what's possible by harmonizing the body and mind and gave you some direction in what practice to choose.
And remember, all too often, it's the practice that chooses you!
About Benjamin Cole
Benjamin is a multimedia freelancer and health and wellness practitioner. He has been training the mind and body for nearly a decade and writes and speaks regularly about the benefits through various channels and pages. Through his work he hopes to inform people on how they connect to their inner guidance and higher self so that they may live more illuminated and inspired lives.
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