As mentioned in a previous post, a mind-body therapy is chosen from techniques designed to enhance your mind’s positive impact on your body. These techniques and practices include behavioral, psychological, social, expressive, and spiritual approaches. Ultimately, your goal should be to bring both mind and body in tune with one another, eliminating conflicts that result in physical, emotional or spiritual disruption.
Choosing a mind-body therapy will depend largely on what you hope to achieve through your more mindful practices. Are you trying to reduce stressor the risk of disease? Do you hope to reduce certain symptoms, or cure a specific disease? Knowing where you’re headed is the first step along any path to wellbeing.
Beginning any new health regime, including a mind-body therapy program, requires you to change your habits, your schedule, and your mind. Here are six steps to starting on and sticking with a mind-body practice:
- Identify what you want to change
- Set a clear and realistic goal for your wellbeing
- Recognize challenges you may face, so you can plan for them
- Create specific, measurable action steps
- Enlist support of friends or family
- Check your progress on your action steps as you move to your goal and adjust as necessary
Picking a Practice for Your Wellbeing
Next, you must decide what is realistic for you to do, based on logistical considerations as well as your disposition. If training or coaching is needed, is the financial burden too much to overcome? Do you believe in the efficacy of the practice? While a certain level of skepticism is healthy, doubt will likely defeat you. don’t begin anything in which you lack faith that it will help you.
In addition to meditation, here are three of the most popular and effective mind-body therapies for increased wellbeing:
- Biofeedback – trains patients to observe shifts in their bodily functions by using electronic monitors (i.e., heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, muscular tension, and brain activity). With this focus, patients learn to adapt and modify their mental and emotional responses to alleviate symptoms and regulate specific conditions.
- Imagery – exercises use creative imagination to “picture” scenarios that relax and heal. They can be done on your own, or with a facilitator guiding you, which is called guided imagery. A common relaxation practice is to mentally picture yourself in a pleasant place that puts your mind and body at ease.
- Breathwork – One way to master stress is to be aware of your breathing. When people feel panicked or unconsciously stressed, they tend to take short, shallow gasps of air. The resulting lack of oxygen restricts blood flow and causes muscles to tense. Full, deep breathing is an effective way to reduce tension, feel relaxed, and reduce stress. (University of Minnesota, Center for Spirituality and Healing)
Added to this list is the Orthopedic Manual Therapy and Christy’s Body Whisperer Technique, which combines the science of Craniosacral Therapy (nervous system) and Visceral Mobilization (organ movement), used at Christy Sanger Therapies.
Choosing the practice that works best for you may require quite a bit of trial and error. There is no “One-size-fits-all” solution. Be patient and seek professional advice, either from your primary physician or a mind-body specialist in your area.