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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Why You Need to Get in Your Body Now

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 7th 2012

yogaWhenever someone walks into my doors with anxiety or depression one of the things I always want to know about it what their exercise looks like and how they’re treating their body. It’s a well-known fact that a healthy body has profound implications for our level of energy and simply feeling good. However, I want to offer up another way working with the body benefits your mental health.

It’s my belief that engaging the body with gentle stretching or yoga can lead to a flexible mind. A flexible mind can help us break free from old habits that no longer serve us. This the basis for why I included a short chapter with a few easy yoga poses in The Now Effect

Here’s why this has a positive impact on us. Taking intentional time to stretch the body means we have to take time out of our daily busy-ness to pay attention to physical sensations of our bodies. This primes us to come down from the whirlwind of our minds and directly into a space of being aware of our physical bodies.

When we’re dealing with stress, anxiety or a depressed mood, an important skill to learn is to redirect attention from the thoughts in the mind and come to the facts of the moment. The sensations you are experiencing in the moment are factually happening. The constriction in the chest, tension in the shoulders, or turning of the stomach is actually occurring. The flight into thoughts is a subconscious strategy to avoid this feeling or try and fix it.

Getting in touch with intentional stretching during the day primes the mind to be able to engage with this skill during different moments. It’s basic learning theory that what we intentionally practice and repeat starts to become automatic. 

As we do this we notice that we naturally begin to see things from a wider perspective, this is The Now Effect. Not getting called back the next day after a first date may not mean the person doesn’t like you, but maybe that they’re busy today. A speeding ticket may not mean the end of the world, but maybe a reminder to slow down that saves you from a future accident.

There are many ways to train the mind to be more flexible, intervening through gentle stretching in the body is just one of them.

Don’t take my word for it, try it out today. You can even do it at work for a few minutes at a time.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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