“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” – Stephen Hawking
Welcome to Week 9 of our How Einstein Would Get Pregnant blog series. Last week we covered a special story from our friend Stephanie Fitzgerald, who “just adopt”-ed and lived to tell the tale. It’s a story about persistence, courage and ultimately love. I highly recommend to take the 20 minutes and read and/or listen especially if you are considering this alternative.
Reversing the Top Down Mind-Body Approach
This week we come back to our “brainy” fertility (and infertility) topic and want to delve into the realm of the body mechanics…the evidence pointing to the fact of the “Body-Mind” connection, or the fact that our our body can makes us feel certain emotions by virtue of its state of relative health. The mind-body connection, or the role of our emotions and thoughts on our bodies seems to be clear – but what about the mirror image of that statement? How does the state of our body, or our physical health, determine our emotions?
Robert A. Scott in his book Miracle Cures writes about the increasing number of studies showing the role of emotions in causing illness. “The link between negative emotions and poor health is a powerful one. Studies find that people who tend to inhibit the expression of emotions have generally poorer health than those with less repressive, inhibited styles of coping. Strong relationships have been found between anger and hostility and the incidence of coronary heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.” He goes on to discuss the link between extreme sadness to heart disease and cancer, and linking pessimism and hopelessness to ill-health.
What most of these studies assume is a very head-down link – the mind and brain, which presumably have these emotions and thoughts, subsequently impact the body in alarming ways. Is it possible to assume, therefore, that the body – if it has these illnesses or imbalances – subsequently impact the mind in equally alarming ways, causing a downward spiral? The body is sick, therefore the mind becomes sick, therefore the body becomes sicker still. I am not suggesting I have the answer, but let’s look at some simple life examples for an answer.
It’s clear in dramatic instances when we are sick with the flu, or instance, that we will “feel” miserable. And not just in the body, but in our thoughts and feelings. We aren’t jovial, nor we we smiling or thinking about our next big life goal in an optimistic fashion. This is an obvious example showing the direct correlation of this “bottoms-up” or body-to-mind view.
As Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes in her book Fingerprints of God – What Science is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience is “we often underestimate the effects of just relaxing your muscles…a good massage and suddenly, Hey! the rest of my life is good!” Our bodies are often overlooked except when we are sick. Do we take enough time during the day to “check-in” with our body? Ask it questions, help it release anxiety and tension in areas?
The Body-Mind Effect of Meditating, Exercise, Sleep and Diet
I was listening to a Jack Kornfield recording about meditating. He talks about the fact that many people when they begin meditating find discomfort in certain areas of their body. It seems as if when your thoughts goes quiet, the mind (intuition?) can actually begin to hear what your body is saying to you. This is important information to act upon. This communication within your mind-body is a two-way highway. Tapping into your body using methods such as meditating, relaxation – or even taking a warm bath – can be truly enlightening.
Another simple example is one of yoga or exercise. Stretching and using your muscles may be painful at first, but I guarantee there will be positive emotional benefits after the fact. This your body is telling you how happy it becomes when it is active. The bio-mechanics underlying this cascade involve various hormones such as opiates and cellular receptors – endocrine glands in your brain, thyroid and adrenal glands which then send these positive “molecules of emotions” to a myriad of cells in your body using such cell-surface receptors. It’s a thunder-burst of positive emotions that can be released through the stretching and exercising of your body.
Or take a day when you haven’t slept well the night before. Your body is under duress due to profound fatigue. Every single area of your body is impacted by sleep. How would you rate your level of happiness during this day in your life on a chart from 1 to 10? Another example of the body-mind connection. Your diet also plays an enormous role in your energy levels and state of well-being.
On a more profound level – and one I don’t have the answer for – what do certain conditions like PCOS, Endometriosis or blocked fallopian tubes produce to impact this body-mind connection? Research has linked higher rates of depression with PCOS, for example, but does the mind subconsciously react to these conditions from a physical perspective?
In summary, I do believe that the health of mind AND body are interconnected not just from a heads-down approach, but from a circular flow of complex interconnections. The balancing of the body – or health – may improve thoughts and feelings, which in turn boosts immune systems and keeps your body health. And unfortunately, the opposite may be true as well. But we can access mind-body health not just from a release of emotions or improving our thoughts (sometimes very very difficult to do), but by checking in with your body and helping it find balance as well. Both tactics would make sense and can work to help you empower your life, fertility and your future.
Next week we will do a little holiday cheer and discuss baby-making sex and libido…should be a fun week!