12/06/2011 04:10 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2012

As We Think So We Become

Most of us tend to think of our bodies and minds as separate entities and treat them as such: we feed and water our body, take it for walks and give it exercise; we feed our mind with ideas and amuse ourselves with various kinds of entertainment. If anything goes wrong, we go to someone to sort it out, such as a doctor to fix our body or a therapist to treat our mind.

Yet, realistically, we cannot separate mind and body: all our thoughts and feelings get translated into chemicals that fire off, altering the chemical composition and behavior of our cells (see Deb's book Your Body Speaks Your Mind). Hence a sad feeling will influence our tear ducts so they produce tears, while a scary feeling gives us goose bumps or makes our hair stand on end. The limbic system is the emotional center of the brain, where emotions are translated into physical responses. This area also controls the appetite, blood sugar level, body temperature and the automatic functioning of the heart, lungs, digestive and circulatory systems, indicating the intimate relationship between emotions and physical functions.

"A basic emotion such as fear can be described as an abstract feeling or as a tangible molecule of the hormone adrenaline," writes Deepak Chopra in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. "Without the feeling there is no hormone; without the hormone there is no feeling... The revolution we call mind-body medicine was based on this simple discovery: wherever thought goes, a chemical goes with it."

Thoughts have energy; emotions have energy. They make us do and say things, act in certain ways, they make us jump up and down or lie prone in bed, they determine what we eat and who we love. As Dr. Candace Pert writes in Molecules of Emotion, "We can no longer think of the emotions as having less validity than physical or material substance, but instead must see them as cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality, literally transforming mind into matter."

So is there a real difference between one part of our being and another, or is the only difference the means of expression? H2O exists as water, steam, rain, sea, cloud or ice, yet is still H2O. In the same way, our feelings can be seen in our behavior and actions. When we cannot or do not express emotions or psychological states, that energy becomes expressed through the physical body. The emotion most often repressed is rage, as it is usually the most inappropriate or difficult to articulate. Invariably, rage is connected to a loss of control, which is the most prevalent problem in stress-producing circumstances.

"The skin is not separate from the emotions, or the emotions separate from the back, or the back separate from the kidneys, or the kidneys separate from will and ambition, or will and ambition separate from the spleen, or the spleen separate from sexual confidence," writes Dianne Connelly in Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements.

For instance, when Deb was eight years old she was sent to boarding school, an experience she was not too thrilled about:

"A few weeks after I got there I had tonsillitis. In those days having your tonsils out meant staying in hospital for a week followed by another week at home, eating nothing but mashed potatoes and ice cream -- good comfort foods! What those two weeks really did was reconnect me with security and a sense of belonging. I can now see that the nature of the illness -- inflamed and sore throat -- indicated that I was having a very hard time swallowing my reality. Boarding school was not where I wanted to be. The time at home was the healing I needed to accept what was happening."

To apply this to yourself, think back over times of illness and see if the sickness followed a time of crisis, stress or emotional difficulty. If it did, then ask yourself if there are any issues, such as anger or grief, that need to be acknowledged and released. Take some time to be quiet and reflective, acknowledge what was happening at that time and gently release.

Can you see how your feelings affect your body? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs every week by checking "Become a Fan" at the top.

Deb is the author of the award-winning

Also see our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kabat-Zinn, Byrone Katie, Jane Fonda, Marianne Williamson, and many others.

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