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Stress-free ways to enhance your holistic body-mind connection

By Seher Sikandar

When I first heard about the body-mind connection through my therapist, it was a game-changer for me. I learned how our bodies hold our feelings and how mental health far transcends just the mind. This understanding also helped prime me in a major way of engaging with other kinds of healing work. First, some background on this body-mind situation and what it all means.

Connecting the brain to the body

The body and the mind have a symbiotic relationship. The state of one impacts the state of the other. Our body is a repository for feelings, traumas, beliefs, and past lives. Our emotional state feels the impact of what’s happening in the rest of our body, especially the gut— ever heard of “grain brain?” While the mind holds wisdom in the conventional sense, the body holds often untapped, and greater wisdom. Many of us call this our intuition. Body awareness could be another way to put it in this context.

What this means is that our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health are connected. And unresolved anger whether conscious or unconscious can get stored in our bodies. This disruption can ultimately result in mental or physical illness. We’ll go to the doctor to get checked out for a very real chronic pain issue. We’ll get the tests and they’ll come back and tell us we’re fine “drink some water and take a nap.” They might even tell us that the pain is “all in our head”.

What does it all mean?!

In such cases, the pain in a certain sense is “all in our head”. If it is borne out of some buried emotions that have created an energetic stagnancy in our body. That disruption to our natural biorhythm manifests as chronic pain. Which can come in the form of a random rash, depression, an upset stomach, or disease. There’s a name for these kinds of illnesses. They are called functional disorders. You might have heard that “thoughts are energy”. Challenging thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and traumas carry frequencies. These can cause disturbance to the energy flow in our bodies and thereby possible illness. These energies are measured by electromagnetic frequencies.

What can we do now?

What to do, where to start? There are many ways to empower ourselves by navigating our wellbeing holistically. I’ve compiled a guide to some of my favorite holistic wellness modalities and resources. My hope is that it’ll help you decide what feels like your vibe with more confidence, clarity, and even excitement as you set out to identify healing tools for your own toolkit!

Naturopathic medicine

Holistic medicine. functional medicine. and probably some other stuff, too. these kinds of doctors are looking at the big picture of how everything connects. And most importantly, they are keen on identifying the underlying root causes of illness. They’re also here to show you what kind of lifestyle habits will be most supportive from a preventative standpoint.

dr. gabrielle francis has been my natural doc for almost 10 years. There’s a whole laundry list of things I’ve worked on with her at this point. But I first went to Dr. G to get my neurotransmitters tested (things like dopamine, cortisol, serotonin, GABA, etc). This combined with therapy was life-changing.


dr. mark hyman is a functional medicine doctor who’s great to follow on Instagram for tips and tools. He’s written quite a few books and offers other resources you can devour, too.

Holistic psychotherapy

There countless types of therapy nowadays. Whatever the primary method, integrating a body-centered approach is increasingly popular. It’s done wonders for my overall wellness and intuition. This benefits all areas of my life.

freda salamy, mft was my therapist for seven years. I credit leaps and bounds of personal healing and growth due to my work with her. She’s incredibly attentive. This really kept me in check and on track in more ways than I can count. Both as it relates to my body and mind.

dr. nicole lepera aka the “the holistic psychologist” provides insights on her wildly popular Instagram. Her content largely focuses on trauma, inner child work, emotional conditioning, and reprogramming.

Meditation

Meditation supports your brain and body in countless ways— truly, it’s a body-mind detox. It helps clear mental clutter, eases anxiety, improves productivity, and balances your biorhythm. Whether you’re doing something guided, mantra-based; you are going to benefit. This can be for five minutes or sixty minutes. A five-minute meditation can turn an entire day around. Trust me, I’ve lived it.

wherever you go, there you are by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a comforting, beautiful book on meditation and mindfulness. Easily digestible and still rich in the nuance of every word. This book alone provided my foundation on the concept of mindfulness and meditation, including how I approach it today. Mindfulness is a neutral awareness. Nothing is “good” or “bad,” it just is.

insight timer is an iPhone app with the largest library of free meditations. they have guided meditations, meditation music, and mini-courses. Per its name, it has a great meditation timer tool where you can choose a custom bell for a self-directed meditation session. You can track your meditation stats and sync with the iPhone health app. Plus you can connect with the community on user-created message boards organized by interests.

Fixing your vibe in silence

silent meditation retreats are a great opportunity to retreat for free or very low cost. You basically meditate most of the day and remain silent the entire time. No smartphones, no internet! You can’t sign-language the person eating lunch next to you either. The purpose is to quiet the body and mind, practice mindfulness, and be present. It can be tough but also rejuvenating, illuminating, and very rewarding. We could all disconnect more, no?

**Note that while these meditation styles are rooted in the Buddhist tradition, they are open to all and you do not have to practice Buddhism to attend a retreat and benefit.**

IMS (Insight Meditation Society) has two annual insight meditation retreats at a sliding scale that goes as low as about $100+ for a 7-day retreat in Western Massachusetts. The youth retreat is for people ages 18-32 and the POC-focused retreat is open to all ages.

the s.n. goenka tradition offers meditation retreat centers internationally. There are multiple donation-based 10-day vipassana opportunities each year. For people in the NYC area, their nearest retreat center is also in Western Massachusetts.

Now just breathe into it!

Take your time going through this. It’s all here for you anytime you need it and it’s not going anywhere. And no pressure to try everything! Only what speaks to you! Try closing your eyes and taking some long, slow, deep breaths. Settle into your body. Then ask your body, not your head, which resource from this guide feels most aligned for you to try first. And whatever it is, don’t question it. It doesn’t have to make sense to your mind. Trust your body, trust your gut, and take one very powerful step forward.

Seher is a Brooklyn based photographer, storyteller, facilitator, and creative strategist.  
At the root, her work explores the weaving of healing and social change into art, media, culture, and community— particularly in ways that spark creative dialogue, activate communities and help elevate the way we exist as humans. Seher’s work has invited clientele and partners including Adidas, Google, The Wing, Casper, 
Brown Girl Magazine, HBO, 
Red Bull, Refinery29, and HealHaus. 







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