We know from our own experience about the mind-body connection. For example, if you were to imagine or visualize sucking on a lemon rind, you may very likely begin to salivate. Even though that sucking on the lemon rind is entirely of the mind, it can easily generate bodily responses.
It’s possible, with a little imagination, to lay out some interesting symmetries or parallels between our physiological body and our psychological mind. For example, we know we have a physiological circulatory system….but, could we also have a psychological circulatory system? We know we have a physiological respiratory system, but could we also have a psychological respiratory system? We know we have a physiological digestive system; could we also have a psychological digestive system?
Our physiological circulatory system carries blood and oxygen to our muscles and organs. Perhaps our psychological circulatory system carries thoughts and emotions into different parts of our lives….our family, our work, our leisure. Our physiological respiratory system oxygenates and fuels our blood; perhaps our psychological respiratory system fuels and supports our thoughts and emotions through the meanings we ascribe to those thoughts and emotions.
Our physiological digestive system takes in, breaks down and assimilates nourishment in the form of food. It also eliminates what is waste. Perhaps our psychological digestive system takes in, breaks down and assimilates nourishment in the form of ideas, concepts, facts and knowledge. And, it too eliminates what is waste.
Psychological, or mental, health, like physical health, depends on these systems working properly. Though not generally recognized as much of a vital system as respiration or circulation, digestion is critically important, and perhaps the most important aspect of this system is elimination. Most people know how it feels to be bloated and constipated physically, but may be unaware that there can be a kind of psychological constipation as well. If we hold on to ideas, concepts, beliefs and information which is waste, which is outdated, which is not valid….which is not nourishing, it is waste. If that waste is not expelled, it becomes putrid and stale. And yet, it may continue to influence our thinking and emotions.
Mental health counseling is one good way to facilitate the elimination of psychological waste. By talking with a professional, old ideas and beliefs can be challenged, and discarded, making room for new, fresh understandings and perceptions. Also, because of the intimate relationship between the mind and the body, physical exercise (which is a lot like exorcise) can also be helpful in toning the psychological systems of circulation, respiration and digestion, especially elimination. Singing, dancing, laughing and crying, though physical in nature, and healthy, also has a psychological counterpart just as visualizing positive mental imagery has a physiological counterpart. There is a psychosomatic symmetry to our lives.