A patient walked into my consulting room and my mental antenna started twitching. Her body language, the drooping shoulders and the look on her face told me that given half a chance this woman is going to fill my room up with tears.
The moment she sat down I said, “Before you say anything, just do as I say” She was a little taken aback but I surged ahead “Lift your head and open your eyes wide” she must have thought that doc has gone crazy. “Do it now” I said with an encouraging smile. Startled she snapped her head up and looked at me. “Now sit up straight, open your shoulders and give me a smile”. She followed my instructions. I saw a glint in her eyes and the smile slowly reached her eyes.
“Yes now tell me what happened” She understood what I had done. Smiling through her brimming eyes she said “You are a crook doc”. I just smiled at her “Life doesn’t seem too bad now does it?”
We all know that the body mimes the emotion that has gripped the mind, so much so that if you are walking your steps pick up the beat of the song running through your head. We can make out the mood of a person from his body language. Our facial expression, poise, stance, gait and bearing reflect our attitude. This is because only 7% of our communication is verbal the rest is conveyed through body language.
The good news is that it also works the other way round; change in facial expression, poise and posture can change our mood and our emotions. That is what I had done with the young lady who walked into my clinic. When an angry person storms into your office, make him sit down, offer him a glass of water, switch on the fan and smile at him. He will find it very difficult generate enough anger to start shouting.
All through life the body and the mind are engaged in a continuous duet. Sometimes the body takes the lead, sometimes the mind. The thing to remember is that the intellect is the music director. When I am feeling low I think of a song with a catchy beat and start tapping to the beat. My mood changes; try it, it works. Fake it till you make it.
We all have experienced this. When we come back from a funeral the mood is sombre and everyone is talking in hushed tones. But the small children enter the group the mood just has to change, and fast. Actually we all know that eventually the mood is going to change and we are going to get on with life but children actually do for you. I just invite the child within me to take centre stage. He changes my mood for me.
Sometimes the mind knows what needs to be done but the body drags it down. Each morning I have a battle on hand before starting exercise. The body is reluctant but the mind persuades it to start. Once we get going the enthusiasm kicks in. Now imagine different scene. You are in a party, the music starts playing and your feet start tapping to the beat. Your whole body is saying ‘let’s do it’ but your mind is shy, it is scared, there is fear of ridicule and making an ass of yourself. This time the body leads it has to persuade the mind to let go. I have this problem every Ganapati season. My body wants to but the mind refuses to budge. We all know that once we break through our inhibitions we can do it; and what’s more we also enjoy it. In both these situations it is the intellect that persuades the reluctant partner to do the right thing.
BKS Iyengar guruji in his book ‘Light on Life’ applies the same principle to yogasan. Sometimes the mind feels that it can achieve a difficult posture and the body gets stuck. At such a time the mind has to coax the body into expanding and extending that wee bit more. At other times the body is confident that it can achieve the balance needed for Shirsasan (head stand) but the mind is reluctant to let go of the wall. In both these situations the intellect has to take the right side. Guruji says that while doing the asan one has to allow the intellect to permeate each cell of the body, as well as the heart where the mind resides. Once the intellect succeeds the whole system falls in line.
When the body mind and intellect are synchronised life becomes a beautiful duet composed by the mind, performed by the body and conducted by the intellect.
By – Dr. Chandrashekhar Desai. Co-founder, HPS Wellness