What are mind / body therapies?
Commonly throughout, each form of mind/body therapy shares the underlying belief that the mind, body, and our behavior are all interconnected. The body influences the mind, and vice versa, to help create one, complete being.
Unified under one system, these therapies believe the mind and body could benefit from activities directed and intended to promote the wellness of both. These therapies and their various techniques have been created with the specific intention of promoting wellness throughout the whole mind/body system.
Why are mind / body therapy techniques important?
There have been substantial results in research regarding the benefits that each of these therapies can provide. They show that the techniques benefit, accompany, and even catalyze the journey toward wellness– even the path towards healing for some. Some mind and body therapies have shown evidence in study to improve sleep, ease chronic pain and illness, alleviate or assuage the results of emotional and physical injury, and many other positive side effects.
These therapy techniques are vast in the kind of approach they take to promote the wellness of the mind-body relationship. Below we’ve outlined just a few that we have tried personally, and a few others that we’ve only heard of, in hopes that you find the therapy techniques that work best for you.
Mind / Body Therapy Techniques
What is it?
While more popularly recognized today as a way to work out, Yoga is also a great tool for Mind & Body therapy. While there are many kinds of Yoga, if you’re using this approach to focus more on your mind/body health, we recommend focusing on more restorative flows whenever possible.
Restorative Yoga uses slow and passive stretching of the body to promote relaxation and release of the muscles. You can partake in this practice independently (we love using this video), or go to a class with an instructor, if available.
The goal of this specific type of yoga practice is more congruent to relaxation, release, and healing, rather than working out and exercising the body.
While most yoga studios typically have a Restorative Yoga class on their calendar, this practice is also ideal for practicing at home.
We linked to one of our favorite guided videos above, and the resource linked here provides several high-level considerations to use as focus areas before diving in.
Our top tip is to remove as many distractions as possible when completing this practice. In today’s day and age, we know that it’s hard to create silence and an area of solace, but do the best you can to give your mind just a few minutes of freedom.
What is it?
Massage Therapy uses techniques to manually move different parts of the skeletal and muscular systems to aid in the recipient in overall wellness. Typically, this involves a masseuse intentionally applying pressure to various muscles and skeletal points on the body with the intention of achieving release or relief.
This mind / body therapy can be used in conjunction to many other kinds of treatment for both physical and psychological ailments. Most commonly, massage therapy can be used to help relax muscle tension, or help in the healing of injured skeletal or muscular parts of the body. It can also be used to help assuage chronic pains or even anxieties associated to either physical or psychological issues.
Typically, this kind of therapy can release various toxins in the body with a goal to promote overall wellness. Massage therapy is also believed to help remove emotional blockages that may reside as tension or pain in the muscles or skeletal structure.
If you want to try massage therapy on your own, we do recommend going to a registered masseuse that is familiar with the deep intricacies of the muscular structure. There are many resources available online that can help in finding your massage therapist – we especially love referencing this website. From there, you can investigate your therapist, their credentials, experience or speciality to help find the best fit for your individual wellness needs.
What is it?
While writing a research paper on Mindfulness-Based Interventions and Practices, I was enlightened to the number of ways one could meditate. While there are different ways one could go about their meditative practice, they all share many common features and ultimate goals.
Most all forms of meditation require comfortable positioning of the body in a environment that is has limited distractions going on. Meditation also recognizes the importance of attention on behalf of the individual practices, thus focus on the activity is key. Some practices may promote specifically directing your attention, while others may just promote noticing what thoughts visit your mind while meditating.
Regardless of the type of meditation that you’re practicing, a open and adaptive attitude to what enters and exits the mind and body during meditation is critical.
There are a number of ways one can partake in meditative practices, however, the goal of meditation is nearly identical regardless of the method; balance. Meditation intends to connect the mind, body and behavior of the individual in hopes of promoting a more balanced connection between them. Meditation practices can aid in physical wellness, such as pain and various illnesses in the body. Meditation could also be used to aid in psychological wellness, enhancing relaxation and enhancing coping skills.
There are several resources available to aid in the education and practicing of Meditation as a Mind & Body Therapy. If you’re just getting started, guided meditations, such as the ones linked here, may be a great way to learn which method of meditation works best for you.
What is it?
The understanding and use of Aromatherapy is quite expansive. This particular alternative therapy utilizes the aromatic, or the smells, of different plants to aid in the progress of healing or overall wellness. The principles of aromatherapy outline different purposes and uses for different extracts.
Typically, the plants are extracted into an oil that is then used in various settings for a variety of different purposes, like in lotions, baths, perfumes, or oil diffusers (we use this wood grain oil diffuser in our home).
For example, Lavender (as pictured above in plant form) oils can be diluted with water to create a “calming spray” that one could spritz on their pillows before bed. This could aid in the user’s ability to fall and stay asleep. Another great example is using Peppermint or Spearmint to combat headaches. One dab of the oil on either temple could provide quick relief to the individual.
I like to use Aromatherapy all day long in my home by diffusing essential oils. After many years of personal research, I have been able to discover and create my own combinations to fit my needs and likes. (We love using this essential oil set. And at only $11 for the set, it’s well worth the price!)
If you’re interested in implementing Aromatherapy techniques here’s a link to start finding out more about what specific essential oil scents you might best benefit from! From there, you can make your own, or your can purchase our favorite set online here.
What is it?
Derived from traditional Chinese medicine practices, Acupuncture is the medicinal practice of injecting tiny sterile needles through the skin. These needles hit into the muscles of specific points of the body to release stagnant energy and promote healing and wellness.
Acupuncture is most commonly used for those seeking to alleviate various physical ailments, such as headaches or to prevent migraines. This alternative therapy is also suggested to treat any kind of chronic pain, most commonly in the neck, back, and joints like knees, elbows, and shoulders. Personally, I have had acupuncture suggested to me by my chiropractor to help break up some scar tissue from an old injury that was causing me pain again.
While Acupuncture may seem like a Mind & Body Therapy that focuses more heavily on the body, it is believed that the treating of the body will allow or help in the mind’s healing. That is, if the body can feel free of pain, the mind may follow.
The main key to trying out acupuncture is to make sure that the practicing acupuncturist is licensed and credited, as there are many acupuncturists out there that are practicing, but are not qualified. We recommend using this resource to find a qualified acupuncturist near you.
What is it?
Hypnotherapy, is a technique where the individual is submerged deep into a specific thought in an attempt to help with a variety of problems, such as breaking a bad habit or coping with stress.
With the help of a trained hypnotherapist, the patient is submerged into a consumed state of focus, described as one similar to when we become very engulfed in a T.V. show or book. It is suggested that within this state of focus (hypnosis) the patient’s mind is more readily open and willing to work toward wellness.
Hypnotherapy is typically adjunct in nature, meaning that it’s a practice that is being use alongside additional mind / body techniques. Because of this, Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a number of psychological and physical ailments, such as but not limited to, anxiety, undesired behaviors, teeth grinding, skin disorders, or the effects of chemotherapy.
If you are interested in pursuing Hypnotherapy, similar to acupuncture, it is critical to find a professional who is trained and equipped to administer this kind of Hypnotherapy. It is suggested by Psychology Today that you should make it your goal find a hypnotherapist who is certified by the following organizations;
- American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH)
- Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
What is it?
Based on ancient Japanese techniques, Reiki is a mind / body therapy technique that seeks to reduce stress and promote relaxation and healing through the administration and manipulation of energy. Reiki is based on the principal belief that the therapist can harness and utilize energy flow in the body to aid in the healing on behalf of the recipient.
Reiki, like most of the therapies listed here, can be used in conjunction to many other kinds of therapies. However, the recommended uses for Reiki as treatment are vast, ranging from physical, psychological, emotional, to medical and spiritual ailments throughout the mind or body. From personal experience, I like to use resource this therapy when I feel particularly physically unsettled, such as when I have rigid muscles or trouble sleeping.
Reiki therapy is administered through the hands, however that is does not always mean physical contact. While I have had Reiki sessions where the therapist does make contact to my body, sometimes the therapist simply hovers their hands over different areas of my body, without making contact.
I’ve also received “distant”, or remote, Reiki, where the therapist sends energy flow to me from a different geographic location than where I am. The administration of this therapy could largely depend your need and the therapists preference.
Regardless as to whether you’re physical present in the room with the therapist or not, any touch to the body is largely stationary, unlike massage therapy, which typically involves movement and direct contact to the skin.
I have had incredible experiences that have enhanced my path toward wellness using this therapy. While there are a number of resources for the education about Reiki (tons of great information can be found here), from my experience, it can be a little more tricky finding out where you can receive this therapy.
A great place that I use regularly when looking for a Reiki practitioner can be found here. As with all the other Mind & Body Therapies listed on this page, it is suggested you find a trained professional, as there are many unqualified practitioners out there that you should be wary of.
Which Mind / Body Therapies work for you?
One piece that is very important to note when determining which Mind / Body Therapy techniques you should try is that they are all very individual. The technique that works for you, may not work for me at all.
We suggest trying out a few of them, or even a few combinations, before landing on which therapy techniques speak to you in this season of your life.
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