I started my morning today with an amazing 90-minute yoga session. Yoga has been a part of my lifestyle for the past 5 years, serving as a sanctuary for exercising my mind and body. I am always reminded of each one of the wellness kriyas as I arrive on my mat, striving to become strong and flexible in the body while being fluid in the mind. My instructor, Danny, began class this morning with an intention – “Miracles”, he said. “Be conscious of the miracles in your life, starting with your mind and body”. It took me back to our topic of gratitude, which we discussed last week. But this went a step further. “We always have a choice – to either create peace or create war by what we put in our minds and how we treat our bodies. There IS no neutral”, said Danny.
This got me thinking about the power of intention. In order to intend to think a certain way, we must exercise our brains in a way that perhaps doesn’t feel normal to us. Research now shows that our brains actually have more elasticity and plasticity than we once thought. Elasticity, or the ability to stretch and return back to shape, allows us to have flexibility, controlled mobility, and balance. Plasticity, or the ability to mold or form, is the way in which the brain can re-shape itself by the input and experiences it receives. This means we can actually create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones by our mental and physical exercise. I see this fascinating phenomenon daily in my profession, as I help to rehabilitate those that have suffered strokes, or injured areas of the brain that have been deprived of oxygen.
There is definitely an integrated system in our minds and bodies. Our brain communicates with our bodies through chemicals and hormones that it releases, thereby allowing for a particular physical response. Think about how a stressful day can make your head hurt or raise your blood pressure. Our bodies also signal our brains to process valuable information. When you stub your toe, there are pain signals that communicate to your brain. When you are at the gym working out, happy endorphins can swim upstream to create a lighter mood. The mind and body have this perfect feedback mechanism. But what we feed ourselves, both mentally and physically is truly what will impact our overall well-being.
This week, think about what you are doing to “feed” your mind and bodies. Start with your mind. How about beginning to feed only positive mental images to your life experiences for a day? This is what my yoga instructor, Danny, did. Maybe you meditate for 5 minutes and feel how your body responds. Perhaps, you think about using your non-dominant hand for daily tasks like brushing your teeth or using the remote control. You could also try a mentally challenging activity like a crossword puzzle or sudoku. It all may seem uncomfortable and awkward at first. But know that by engaging your mind and body, you are re-creating a newer YOU. And, to me, that’s a miracle in itself. ***Stay tuned for more on exercising the mind and body.
Deepali’s piece of wellness: Try at least one new way to use your mind or body this week. I guarantee one will benefit the other.