The link between physical and non-physical wellness

Posted on July 14, 2020Comments Off on The link between physical and non-physical wellness

In practicing physical therapy, I learned that the body’s will to thrive is strong. We can heal from tremendous injuries. But sometimes we don’t heal so easily. In learning how to help people’s body thrive, I started to see the bigger picture, the link between our body and mind.

When we have a physical injury, we will typically naturally do the things that help it heal. If you sprain your ankle, you naturally go through a few stages:

  1. don’t put weight on it, let it rest
  2. walk on it a little more as pain improves
  3. test it out a bit as it feels stronger
  4. do more and more of your usual things until you forget about it

Let’s talk about how this gets derailed. Sometimes, we are in denial about the issue. Oh it’s not hurt. I’m going to keep playing soccer. That is sometimes helpful, but sometimes it delay healing.

Another side-track is that we cling to a strategy that was helpful at a different stage of healing. At first, you didn’t put weight on your foot. And then, you started to never put weight on that part of your foot even weeks or months after. A habit you developed to protect yourself when it was vulnerable becomes a life long belief and practice.

The non-physical chains that bind you

In helping people overcome these stumbling blocks, I gained insight into the meaning behind them:

  1. denial- it represents a difficulty with acceptance, without which, it’s difficult to fully move forward from the injured state. Denial is the hidden fear that you cannot cope with the present reality.
  2. attachment – we cling to an idea, a method, something which may have helped us at some moment. But this moment is no longer that moment. Therefor this clinging to safety prevents us from moving forward. It prevents us from being in and working with the present. Attachment represents the lack of faith in your ability to take on the uncertain future.

So these are mental blockages that prevent us from healing physically. Yet at the same time these mental blockages also prevent us from healing mentally. It is the mental memory of the injury, mental memory of past trauma, or mental imagination of a negative future that causes us to live in denial, live with attachment. In overcoming this, we also overcome the memory of past trauma and the fear of undesirable futures.

Courage is the antidote

Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

There are no certainties. That is a truth that we simply accept. And the attribute that helps us is courage. My patients improve when they gain the courage to accept the truth, and the courage to face uncertainty. They might find courage in any number of ways: through spiritual faith, through a desire to be with and take care of their loved ones, through a desire to not want to let people down, to fulfill their dream to accomplish something, through belief in my knowledge or ability, and many many other ways. If they find courage, we can succeed!

Synergy of physical and non-physical healing

I initially learned that healing the body without healing the mind is difficult. As my understanding deepened I observed the synergy of healing both once the chains that hold us town are broken.

I find that as people gain physical strength, become physically more comfortable and more flexible, their mood and mind naturally improves with it. As they become physically well, they are more able and willing to tackle more painful or frightening topics in their mind. And as they free themselves of these mental bondage, their physical movement becomes more natural and free.

A synergistic cycle forms between healing the mind and healing the body. A synergistic growth begins and they thrive both physically and non-physically. (I use the term non-physical to include emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness)

Being approachable without trivializing challenges

This post is a brief summary but I don’t mean to trivialize people’s challenges. It can be very challenging and painful to remove the chains that bind us emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Wanting to tackle this challenge is why Yiyangmen evolved.

Our practices were developed to help people thrive physically: to move strongly and fluidly with natural coordination. And furthermore, we will accomplish this with simple, approachable movements. And they are! My patients with major surgeries or spinal cord or brain injuries have successfully practiced and improved their lives. We help people approach the daunting task of untangling their mind through practice of simple, dependable physical exercises.

And that is the motivation and guiding principle behind the Yiyangmen exercises. Have you had any experience of how practicing them helped overcome a non-physical obstacle? Share your question and stories in the comments!