Examples of mind-body practices include breathwork, meditation, massage, guided imagery, energy therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, and music therapy. These practices build on the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, which is the rebuilding of neurological connections in the brain based on experiences, behaviors, thoughts, emotions, disease, and damage.
Mind-body practices induce the relaxation response, which counteracts stress throughout the body. The relaxation response can be strengthened overtime with regular practice. When the relaxation response is turned on individuals will often experience muscle relaxation, improved gastrointestinal motility, and enhanced cognitive functioning.
Skills to Practice
Mind-body skills are practices to be developed and strengthened over time. These skills may feel more or less difficult at certain times throughout life. The more the skills are practiced, the more the body and mind become entrained and the neurological pathways are strengthened through neuroplasticity. This allows the practice to become easier over time.
- Clinical Hypnosis
- Energy Therapy
- Guided Imagery
- Music Therapy
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Tai Chi & Qigong
Things to consider
Mind-body practices are typically safe to practice independently; however it is often helpful to seek initial guidance. Some mind-body practices require additional training before a practitioner can offer services. This is true for clinical hypnosis, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and yoga.
Many health coaches and mental health providers are trained in a wide variety of mind body practices. If you are recovering from or living with a serious illness, it's a good idea to learn more about mind body practices from credentialed health or mental health professional. Ask your social worker or nurse to refer you if they themselves don't offer this service.