What you believe about yourself, how you deal with your emotions, and what you hold on to has an impact on your mental and physical health.
Science is now understanding what Ayurveda has known for thousands of years about the mind-body connection. Ayurveda says that disease begins when we forget our true nature, knowing that we are Divine spirits. The relationship between what’s happening in your mind, and what’s going on in your body, is the foundation of good health or disease and a longer life. Different emotional states can positively or negatively impact biological functioning. This happens because the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems are linked by a common chemical language, allowing an exchange between the body and mind through hormones and neurotransmitters.
An example of this is how the neurological pathways connect to certain areas of the brain that are responsible for processing the way we feel emotions. This happens via the spinal cord, muscles, cardiovascular and digestive systems. This special way of communicating allows our experiences, stress, or negative feelings to manifest into physical symptoms in the body. Perhaps you have encountered this connection. Have you ever been so overwhelmed that your heart feels like it is exploding out of your chest, or been so nervous that it seems butterflies are in your stomach? I think we all have come up against these sensations during out lives.
These systems work side by side forming the link to our mind and body which directly influence the state of health or the development of illness. For example, anxiety releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, too much of these hormones can suppress the immune system; setting the stage for the development of cancer or other diseases. Emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, guilt, resentment, depression, and stress create ama(toxins) in the mind and can relocate in the body and contribute to imbalances and diseases.
When you experience any emotion, certain physiological sensations manifest in different parts of your body. Chances are you are already familiar with the way fear can cause stomach upset or how stress can lead to headaches. This association is multidirectional. Emotions and the way you experience them affect how you react or respond as well as the physiology within your body.
Studies are showing that repressed emotions seem to be especially detrimental to physical health. One study revealed that vitiations in how the nervous system regulates stress response, producing too much or too little cortisol, may cause early death in patients with breast cancer. The way you think and the deeply held belief patterns you attach to can very well contribute to how you recover from disease. If you do not acknowledge and face difficult emotions, they can begin to physically cause a disruption in the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
In order to restore health and prevent mental ama from accumulating, a combination of physical, spiritual, and emotional approaches are recommended. A healthy diet is also an important foundation on which to build solid lifestyles practices. Ayurveda is rooted in the belief that maintaining a calm mind is integral to longevity and health. Ayurveda and Yoga offer elegant insights to increase body-mind awareness and help you become empowered to manage challenging emotions and reduce their neurophysiological impacts. Some of these tools are:
- Pranayama- breath exercises
- Practicing graditude
- Daily physical exercise
Meditation is another valuable tool for becoming more present in mind. A daily meditation routine is a very effective way to assist the body to modulate emotional responses and the accompanying neuro-chemical tendencies that can otherwise overwhelm the system with potentially damaging stress hormones.
The traditions of Ayurveda approach health and healing in a holistic way. Because it places such importance on the connection between mind-body-spirit, disturbances of the mind should be treated in a much broader way than medicine alone. I invite you to seek out a trained Ayurvedic practitioner to help you restore balance to your body and mind so you can lead a happier and longer life.