One of the main goals of MBX-12 practice is regaining the balance within the body and achieving our global well-being and peace of mind.
The mind-body battle, however, is endless events, occurring when your mind wants to be in tranquility but the body can’t be still, or your body needs some rest but the mind keeps racing.
Job stress, family obligations, ambitions, financial distress, or obsessive worry about any of dozens of other things exacerbate the discord of the mind and body.
For the health and happiness of ourselves and our loved ones, we need to choose to stop this vicious cycle. We need to strive for the ideal balance: achieving tranquility in the midst of our busy life and reclaiming a dynamic lifestyle amidst sedentary modern life patterns.
Historical Efforts for Understanding Inner Balance
Attainment of inner stability of the mind and body has been a timeless assignment given to human beings. Hundred of years ago, Walter Cannon, of Harvard Medical School, coined the term ‘homeostasis’ to describe what the body tries to do in response to changes thrust upon us in order to maintain our inner balance.
If everything were constant and predictable, it would be easy for us to achieve inner stability and master our body, thus achieving true homeostasis. Our reality, however, is constantly changing. There are too many variables for us to even know, let alone control.
The old paradigm of homeostasis suggested that we may be able to rule over our reality. Yet, homeostasis cannot account for the unpredictable nature of our internal and external environments.
A new paradigm, however, states that we do not and cannot know all of the variables of our reality. The new model, called ‘allostasis’, proposes that we maintain stability through change rather than through a constant state of sameness. Allostasis encompasses all of the actively adaptive mechanisms of the body in response to stressors that are both predictable and unpredictable.
3 Ways to Restore Inner Balance
To find ways to manage ourselves in the middle of the unknowable, unpredictable, and ever changing environments, I attempt to bring out three actionable items for broad perspectives on how to maintain your inner balance. They are: 1) normalizing chemical imbalance, 2) tuning in to the biorhythm, and 3) having a bigger picture than you already have.
1. Normalize Chemical Imbalance As Soon As Possible
The adaptive processes of allostasis have a biological cost involving the production of adrenalin, cortisol and other chemical mediators. These chemical messengers help the body adapt to acute stressors in the short-term. When stressors are prolonged, allostatic overload occurs, resulting in “wear and tear” on the body and brain.
Ironically, allostatic overload can result from both insufficient energy to meet the body’s demands or an excess of energy for the body’s current needs. In both cases, abnormal physiologic changes occur. Ultimately, the chronic presence of allostatic load can lead to the development of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and various mental illnesses.
What to do: It is crucial that under stress you do something to resolve or reduce the negative impact as early as possible. Taking a few deep breaths helps. Spending a few minutes stretching your arms and legs lowers rising heartbeat. Simple things you do can change the chemical properties in your body, and your global health in the long-run.
2. Tune In to Your Biorhythm
The good news is that in the allostatic model, occasionally encountering unusual or never-before-seen variables is not seen as a failure of the body to maintain homeostasis (as it was in the old model), but rather a healthy response to predictive fluctuations. To cope with a changing environment at every level, the body needs to respond to internal and external cues simultaneously from the minute adjustment of hormonal levels to the synchronization of our biorhythm to diurnal and seasonal cycles.
What to do: Go with the flow of the inner rhythm of your body. Stay active at high energy levels, but rest when you are low in energy. If you are a morning person, do important things at early hours and use your lunch break for restoring your energy. In a high energy mode such as facing a challenge, use the rising adrenaline to your advantage, taking action to directly tackle the challenge. Riding the natural biorhythm of your body can be more useful for productivity and restoration.
3. Have a Bigger Picture Than You Already Have
The essential goal of allostasis is regaining the balance within the body and optimizing our global well-being via thousands of minute adjustments, many too small for us to even notice. Considering the enormous magnitude of the work our body must do to sustain optimal health, it is important that we understand the larger picture of how the mind and body are integrated. Rather than seeing allostasis as a low-level physiologic mechanism, we should consider the powerful capacity of allostatic adaptation for restoration of the body as an organic whole.
What to do: Worry less. We have no precise idea of what our body truly can do and does to keep us alive, and well. Trust your body and doubt less of yourself, allowing yourself to zoom out a little bit from where you are and look around. And see what you are missing on the other side of the mind.
Final ThoughtsLike the yin-yang diagram in which two opposing elements act independently yet interdependently for the harmony of the whole, our mind and body reciprocally act together and react against each other. In this way, they constantly seek to restore balance within the body as well as a natural accord with the outer environment.
Excerpted from Mindful Movement: Mastering Your Hidden Energy.