Mind & Body by The School of Life
"Can mind and body be constructive companions rather than ill-tempered enemies? Can we learn to accommodate our varied selves with grace?"
MIND & BODY
I received this book courtesy of The School of Life, and was thrilled to dive into it. Having been a member of many yoga and wellness clubs over the years, I've heard the words, "mind body connection," but have often found myself wondering what that actually means.
Sure, I can breathe deeper by using my diaphragm, which is physical, and make it more intentional by counting the breaths I take, which is mental. Or I can use my physical body to get into a certain posture in yoga, putting myself into a pretzel position and taking some mindful breaths.
Is that a mind and body connection?
I'm not so sure. Sometimes it seems like my mind is thinking one thing, but my body is doing another. That there's a major disconnect between the two. What I'm hoping is that this book will help me better understand the connection between the mind and body, what it actually means, and what the benefits are. Most importantly, I'm hoping to find a way to reconnect my mind and body.
Mind & Body by The School of Life presents itself as "a practical and playful guide to balancing and maintaining physical and mental harmony."
Like all School of Life books, I went into this one with an open mind, not quite sure where it would take me, but knowing that I would at least learn something, and come away with a wealth of knowledge about the subject. The School of Life (TSOL) have a way of choosing a particular subject, researching it in depth, and presenting it in a highly readable way for consumers.
The introduction states, "One of the most peculiar things about being human is that we exist as both minds and bodies," and continues, "But the two sides of our nature are not only very different; they are also engaged in ongoing and often painful conflict." What they mean by this, is that while we may wish to be respected for our thinking, we are often more likely judged by our physical bodies.
TSOL asks us if there is a way that mind and body can be companions rather than enemies, and mention that at the heart of this book is "a journey to discover ways of reconciling mind and body in the name of leading more harmonious and less fractured lives."
As a yoga practitioner, I enjoyed reading about the importance of yoga postures, specifically lotus pose, in the introduction, and how these poses we put ourselves in are not primarily physical, as we might come to see them in our exercise classes, but that the purpose is to prepare our minds for higher states of consciousness.
Mind & Body is structured into six sections addressing mind-body centred challenges that we tend to face in our lives in areas of Sociability, Confidence, Modernity, Thinking, Beauty, and Mortality.
The sociability section, which is fantastic, focuses on overcoming isolation and loneliness. TSOL have designed seven specific exercises that have the power to free the more spontaneous parts of ourselves. The exercises includes fun things like sofa jumping, which addresses issues like seriousness in friendships, and a cleaning exercise, which takes an activity we would usually do alone, and turns it into a group project, bringing us together with others. This is "a chance for another person to step into the reality of our lives and to know us for who we really are."
The section that really resonated with me was the one on confidence. It's an issue that I struggle with daily, so I had a lot of key takeaways from this part of the book. I've always looked on embarrassing myself as some kind of failure, but TSOL looks at things from a different perspective, stating that we should see messing up as a standard feature of being human. Within this section are a ton of exercises such as singing, pillow fighting, hip swinging, and dressing up. There's even several costume ideas.
What I got from this section was that we should let our inner child out to play more often, and that things we might find embarrassing, can actually be perceived as "charming, enticing, and provocative."
In the thinking section, there's an exercise called shower thinking, something I do daily. I do some of my best thinking and reflecting in the shower. TSOL states, "the shower should be honoured as one of the best places on Earth in which to carry out serious reflection." The idea is that we're in a position that we're not supposed to be thinking, so we can think more freely and courageously.
The remaining sections on modernity, beauty, and mortality, follow a similar format, each with their own introductions and exercises that follow.
Again, The School of Life caught me off guard and deceived me (in a good way) with the title of this book. What I assumed would be all about reaching a higher consciousness through physical yoga postures and exercise, turned out to be something entirely different. This book definitely took me by surprise, and led me down a completely different path from what I was expecting, one I found both compelling and engaging.
The sections in Mind & Body are applicable to everyone, and the exercises that follow each one are not only fun to experiment with, but also extremely beneficial at addressing key issues and reconnecting the mind and body. "Some take very little time and effort and others require greater commitment, but all of them can edge us towards moods that will best help us flourish," the book states.
This is a fantastic book to have on your shelf, and a great one to gift to friends, family, and loved ones.
The School of Life is an organization built to help us find calm, self-understanding, resilience and connection - especially during troubled times. They place an emphasis on the need to understand ourselves better, so that we can secure serenity and make optimally reliable decisions, particularly around love and work.