The Issue of Fragmentation: The Mind-Body Connection

Notwithstanding the innate harmonization of the body, many of us still perceive ourself to be fragmented. The mind, for one, is commonly thought of as other than the body, and it is this misperception I would like to address here. The universal phrase “mind-body connection” reflects the impression that the mind and the body are separate entities that need to be connected. In truth, however, there is only one body, and the head (where we consider the mind to reside) is clearly an integral part of that structure.

Because our thoughts tend to take us elsewhere mentally, it can feel like our head itself is actually detached from the rest of us. But this is only a muscular sensation which is exacerbated by our predisposition to tense the muscles of the head and neck while in deep concentration and activity. This habit distorts the skull-spine relationship by throwing the head into the space in front of itself, metaphorically giving a person a feeling of pulling away from him or herself, into the future prematurely, or away from the conditions of the present moment. In reality, however, the head is of course always attached to the neck and the rest of the body (all the way down to the feet!), no matter how physically compromised the relationship may be.

We can remind ourself of our physical unity by acknowledging the structural connection between the bone mass of our skull and the joint it makes with the top vertebra of our spine, or by examining a photo of the brain and its attachment to the brain stem and spinal cord, which travels through our entire torso, and into a collection of nerves that spreads widely throughout the rest of the body. More simply, we can look in the mirror or view another person to confirm our apparent wholeness, or palpate the skin of our face, neck, chest, hips, and lower body to validate their true junction.

Our head is always coordinating with the rest of us no matter what we are doing. It is interesting to me that we use the expression mind-body connection, because we would never say tree-leaf, bird-wing, or cat-fur connection, as in all of these the latter is an obvious component of the former. The misconstruction that the mind and the body are in some need of being joined feeds the illusion that we are fragmented beings, where in reality there is never a time we are not operating in one piece.

Bringing our attention to the singular aspect of our body can help us cultivate a more realistic psychological state when we are struggling with the misapprehension that we could or should be doing things differently than we are.  Understanding that we are not fragmented or multiple can help us affirm that we must always be wherever our one body is, doing whatever it is doing. This mandate can be sobering and useful, as it provides us with an unmovable truth to pit against our skeptical thought process that unremittingly tries to talk us out of our personal status.

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