Written by: Meraleigh Queener
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Mind is to Body, as Body is to Mind:
Our friends and our beloved family members have always told us that our thoughts determine our reactions and behaviors. And this hypothesis comes from psychology. You know, like if you tell yourself something enough times, maybe you’ll believe it. If we think negatively, we feel and perform negatively. A bad day at home could result in a bad day at work. We carry our burdens around with us holding way more baggage than we’re able to handle. We tend to avoid conflict to make the reality of the conflict seem physically less real. Reversely, when others deal with conflict, we are quick to feed them the hope and positivity that we so desperately crave for ourselves. This hope that we offer to others and abandon ourselves is valid and nourishing. More simply so, our basic thoughts impact our decisions on what to do and how to feel about it.
But what if I told you that the reverse is true; that our body impacts our thoughts and feelings?
I mean like your body knows more about you than you think. And when something is happening, it communicates that to you in various non-verbal ways, and therefore, you can gain control of yourself again by consciously using your body and physical capabilities to calm your sleepless mind.
Here, take a seat and a deep, nourishing breath. Let’s talk more.
Dr. LePera & Self-Healing:
As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Nicole LePera often found herself frustrated by the limitations of traditional psychotherapy. Wanting more for her patients—and for herself—she began a journey to develop a united philosophy of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness that equips people with the interdisciplinary tools necessary to heal themselves. After experiencing the life-changing results herself, she began to share what she’d learned with others—and soon “The Holistic Psychologist” was born. Now, Dr. LePera is ready to share her much-requested protocol with the world. In How to Do the Work, she offers both a manifesto for Self-Healing as well as an essential guide to creating a more vibrant, authentic, and joyful life. Drawing on the latest research from a diversity of scientific fields and healing modalities, Dr. LePera helps us recognize how adverse experiences and trauma in childhood live with us, resulting in whole-body dysfunction—activating harmful stress responses that keep us stuck engaging in patterns of codependency, emotional immaturity, and trauma bonds. Unless addressed, these self-sabotaging behaviors can quickly become cyclical, leaving people feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and unwell.”
The Hollistic Psychologist: SelfHealers Soundboard - Chapter 5
SelfHealers SoundBoard: Chapter 5
The SELF HEALER SOUNDBOARD is hosted by Dr. Nicole LePera author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller HOW TO DO THE WORK, creator of The Holistic Psychologist, and co-host Jenna Weakland, co-creator of The SelfHealer Circle. In this podcast, you’ll learn how to recognize your patterns, heal from your past, and create your Self.
Utilizing Your Superpowers:
In Chapter 5 of Dr. Nicole LePera’s podcast, “Mind Body Healing Practices,” she both assess and challenges the traditions of psychotherapy teaching us that our mental health impacts our physical health. Though this foundational study encouraging healthier emotional habits has been researched and validated through the work of traditional psychology. However, our body has the power to influence our minds, too.
LePera learned that multiple aspects of herself that she was struggling with are issues we also struggle with. Our:
all have a physiological basis. “They are the reactive impulses of a dysregulated body,” she explains. “I wasn’t bad. I wasn’t damaged. In fact, those habits and behaviors are learned responses that my body used to keep me alive.” These are simply survival mechanisms and so many of us are stuck in this pattern whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Our minds are constantly communicating with our bodies and this communication between the mind and the body is occurring all day long.
It’s about building a foundation from the body up and exploring ways our bodies affect our mental world and wellness. This is the foundation for true healing and holistic wellness in our minds and our bodies. Beginning at the base of this pillar is the gut.
Holistic Wellness Starts From The Body Up:
The Gut: The power of the gut is often left behind in the study of psychology and physiotherapy. It’s commonly referred to as our second brain. Our gut affects our immune system and the response that we feel throughout our body and our neurotransmitters, particularly the hormone, Serotonin. 90% of our happy hormone is produced in the gut. This led to the realization that we often suffer from something called a “leaky gut.” The fine lining of our gut used to nourish our organs can easily become damaged with our diets consistently intaking gut-damaging foods. When the gut becomes weak, oversaturated, sensitive, or intoxicated with unfriendly foods, your gut will release toxins into your bloodstream and cause harmful inflammation your immune system is working on overdrive to take care of. This is an immune system response to take care of your body.
Damage to your gut can cause:
These are the symptoms of your body being dysregulated. Dr. LePera explains that becoming consciously aware of what you’re eating while you’re eating it (before, during, and after) can work wonders in reducing stress and anxiety. Everyone is different as certain foods affect people differently, but reducing or avoiding certain trigger foods from your daily diet will get rid of your energy drops and spike the healthy energy you’ve been craving. You will have access to a clear mind. Our nutrition begins with how our organs are functioning and how our bodies are absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat. Once we become aware of what we are putting into our bodies, our physical health and mental health changes drastically for the better.
Sleep: Sleep is another pillar for holistic wellness that is universally lacking in most of us as hard-working, tired, stressed and anxious, normal human beings. When we think of sleep, we first think about the time we are in bed rather than the accurate timings we are actually asleep. We think we are sleeping more than we are. Getting clear and honest about how much sleep we are getting each night is the first, crucial step to this healing process. Sleep begins before we get into bed. In order to receive the rest we need, we must shift into a parasympathetic state. This could mean that we need to separate ourselves from the flooding of thoughts several minutes or hours for some in order to get true rest. When we are on our phones scrolling through stressful information, we are hurting more than helping our ability to sleep. We are activating our sympathetic nervous system pulling us away from sleep trigged by anxious, racing thoughts.
Breath: Your breathing is so important for holistic wellness. We breathe without awareness daily every second. But when we do become aware of our breathing, it activates our vagus nerve and stimulates our parasympathetic state allowing us to shift from our constant “fight or flight” mode to a state of peace and safety. The vagus nerve contains the parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract and we are able to assess our body’s access to oxygen and sensation of safety throughout our daily lives with the intention and consciousness of breathing. Conscious breathing has the power to soften a stressed or anxious heart rate which isn’t always something we are aware of. Stress can be invisible and a silent killer of our mental and even physical wellbeing. Learning conscious breath empowers us to deal with daily stress and regulate our stress response. This harnesses us with stress resilience showing your body the stress it can take. A single breath can activate calm and peaceful signals in the brain. Shallow or holding your breath can signal stress responses in the brain keeping your body tense and stressed.
Simply lay down flat and place a hand on your belly and breathe deeply from the diaphragm. When you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning, take 5 full deep and slow deep breaths through the nose and out slowly with the mouth laying flat. This will help you go to sleep before bed and rebalance in the morning when you wake up.
This is a great exercise the next time you’re feeling stressed. When practiced daily, you can learn to take care of your body and ease daily stress and anxiety. This gives stress management and control over your panic allowing your body to feel and be safe, healthy, happy, and well.
Movement: Any movement, not necessarily intense exercise. A walk around the blog, a gentle stretch, or yoga is more than enough. This allows blood to flow, our heart rate to elevate, and for us to healthily manage stress. Yoga is a wonderful tool for this! When you focus on your breath and the present moment while giving your body to activate calm from a stressful situation, you’re allowing your body to manage and persevere stress. Teach your body to recover from a stressful state. This release from movement will regulate your body and bring you back into balance. Learn to twist and move your body in doable ways, even a slow walk around the block is so good for you.
Play: The simple act of doing something. Some call it “flow” when you’re so immersed in a moment or an activity that your mind drifts away from time. This is a state of presence. Most of us as adults cannot access this playful state anymore.
“In my relationship with my partner, she would actually tease me and I would become angry. It was hard for me to find humor and to find life playful” LePersa says.
The reason we struggle to find play in our lives is that we are constantly stuck in this phase of nervous system activation that doesn’t allow that humor or level of playfulness in our lives. We’ve built up so much stress. We need to learn how to regulate our bodies so we can allow play and creativity in our lives. Play can mean creating something for work or a project. For others, it can be dancing and singing, a board game, a sport. Play happens when we are present and safe. Do these small things that bring you happiness for the sake of doing it.
Teaching your body how to be safe is part of the journey to incorporating play into our daily life. These pillars help us to regulate our bodies so that the messages that are sent to our bodies are messages of safety, peace, and love and will help us regulate stress when stressful times come. We have to meet the needs of our bodies leading up to our moments of breaking points in order to make calm and conscious decisions in stressful times. Check in with your body daily and ask how it’s doing. Ask yourself, “is there anything that I can do right now that can help regulate my body at this moment?” Is there anything I can do intentionally now to recreate balance in my body? Meeting your body’s physical needs consistently will set us up for future moments and allows us the tools (be it through the Gut, Sleep, Breathwork, and Movement) to break old reactions, thoughts, and habits that harm us. This model of holistic wellness is so important to our minds, bodies, and self-healing in our lives.
DIY Steps to Better Health:
The Gut: Being conscious of the foods you eat and eating foods that physically feel good and right to and for the body. Listen to your body’s signals of when it’s hungry, when it’s full and when it needs energy.
Sleep: Being honest about how much sleep you’re getting and prioritizing enough sleep for yourself personally each night. Giving yourself intentional time to unwind before bed will teach your body to feel safe and relaxed and prepared for a good sleep.
Breath: Becoming intentional and aware of our breath allows us to regulate our stress response empowering our bodies with stress resilience and consistent nourishing signals of calm in our bodies in our daily lives. Yoga is a helpful tool for conscious breath.
Movement: Incorporating bodily movement in ways that serve you, however small, to regularly stress your body and teach it recovery from stress. Think of it as training.
Play: Daily as consistently as possible to allow us to enter into a state of flow, presence, peace, calm, and wholeness.
More About Dr. LePera and Holistic Wellness:
Visit Her Website HERE & Buy Her Book: “How To Do The Work”
Are you familiar with Dr. Nicole LePera and her work? How do you feel about Mind-Body Healing and what are your highlights and struggles? Tell us about it!