When the notion of the mind in its relationship to the body enters into the realm of healing, something very interesting starts to happen. Although the connection between mind and body is either well-established, or under constant debate, new perspectives and new arguments seem to arise every day. This would seem to suggest that the very terms of the argument itself are constantly undergoing revision and new discussions. It would also seem that we are living in a time where it’s become something of an urgency to reconsider just what we mean when we talk about the body and the mind.
The most essential element of the argument does center on notions of the concrete versus the abstract. Or object and subject. In these terms, the body is an object to be discussed, and the mind is the subject, the lens through which we do our discussing. Although these are fairly straightforward ideas, they are not, by any means, universally accepted, and have been at the center of some fascinating arguments over the centuries. Whether or not these ideas will help with certain ailments, from fibromyalgia treatments to blood pressure modulation, is up to the experience of the individual. Generally, the wisdom of the past and present work together, where western and traditional medicine offer the best of all possible worlds.
In recent generations, there has been a gradual, and sometimes revolutionary, trend toward shifting toward a less dualistic notion of body and mind. Where traditional western medicine would posit that it is the mind’s function to help heal the body, and the healing comes from access to conscious thought, there are other views that have helped to complicate this notion very nicely. One of the best examples comes from Buddhism, or at least as it is presented in the west. In this structure, the mind is ethereal and subjective, and healing can be achieved through conscious thought, but also through a mindfulness that leads to emptiness.
In another vein, but still similarly body positive, the work of Wilhelm Reich has shifted the focus of contemporary psychology from an inner experience of mind to one that begins deep in the body. Although some of his ideas have been widely regarded as suspicious at best, the notion that the body is a center of knowledge is one that resonates with a lot of contemporary thought, as well as with some of the oldest healing traditions. From a purely psychological perspective then, the unfolding story is still more complicated than anyone could reasonably suspect.