The mind-body connection (called the psychosomatic effect in psychology and medicine) can help us do incredible things.
I learned a trick from a Tai Chi master when I was a teenager that is a perfect example of it.
At the time it was just a cool little trick that no one believed until they saw it (my anatomy professor in college used lasers to measure it because he refused to believe it was real). But now this little trick means something much more to me. It’s a perfect example of just how much our own mind can influence our physical body.
In case you’re interested, here’s how you do the trick:
Line up both palms with each other, making sure the top lines of your wrists align with each other. Stretch your fingers out – make sure you stretch them out perfectly evenly – and look at your fingertips. You’ll see that one hand is slightly larger than the other. (Feel free to do this several times, until you get a consistent result, to make sure you’re doing it right.)
Once you know which one is the larger one – close your eyes. Let your hands rest by your side or in your lap – not touching each other. Stay as relaxed as you can. Then start to visualize that the hand that was the largest suddenly starts to shrink.
It shrinks and shrinks and shrinks until it’s just a cold, weak little baby arm hanging out of your shoulder. (It’s weird, I know, but stay with me.) Keep visualizing this. Marvel at how small your entire arm suddenly is. Think about how weak it is. How frail. How useless.
After a while, switch your attention to your other arm. The one that used to be the smallest. It’s now growing. It’s getting huge. Bigger and bigger. Muscular. With thick veins and bulging muscles. It’s a strong, large, heavy hand – its size something the Hulk would be envious of.
Once you’ve played with these visualizations for a while (the needed time varies, I can now do this in 5 seconds flat, but in the beginning, it took me several minutes), slowly open your eyes. Calmly line your hands up like you did to begin with – and presto, size change.
Why does this work?
This is what’s often called the mind-body connection. Or the psychosomatic effect in medicine and psychology.
When you convince your brain that one hand is tiny, your body restricts blood flow to it because less blood is needed in a tiny arm. Your blood vessels contract – and since you have quite a few of them in your hand it influences its total size. Just a little bit, but combined with what happens with your other hand it tends to be enough.
On the other hand (see what I did there?), when your brain thinks your other arm is large it decides it needs more blood. Your blood vessels dilate, and more blood is pumped through. Which increases the total volume of your hand.
Some people can do this trick immediately. Others need to try several times and practice their visualization before it happens. But I’ve still not met anyone who wasn’t able to do it if they practiced it.
So, why am I sharing this with you?
Well, lately I’ve ended up having a lot of conversations with my clients about things like their physical energy, unexpected headaches, and sleepiness.
When we have eliminated some of the obvious causes like poor nutrition, dehydration, not enough rest, and so on – we’re quite often left with the simple fact that often we bring these things on ourselves by “telling” our body to do it to us. We’re causing a psychosomatic effect. Using the mind-body connection to make ourselves tired and in pain.
You can think your way into a headache – just like you think your way into changing the size of your hands.
I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you really want to, give it a try.
Start really feeling your head. Tell yourself that it hurts. Start focusing on every little uncomfortable and headache-like feeling you can find or imagine.
Before you know it, you’ll regret doing the experiment.
So my recommendation is to practice using this power for good. Instead of focusing on the moments that show you that something is wrong, perhaps practice visualizing the good things? And recognize that if your mind can create these experiences – it can also create better ones.
I’m not saying you’ll be able to fix everything by just thinking positively. Even I don’t believe that. I’m simply saying that by being aware of the power your mind has over your body – a lot can start to change for the better.