Understanding the Mind-Body Connection in Addiction Recovery

By July 15, 2020July 31st, 2023Mental Health, Spirituality
Understanding the Mind-Body Connection in Recovery | Villa Kali Ma

Understanding the intricacies of our mind-body connection is so incredibly important to the goal of treating and healing women from the destruction of substance abuse in all aspects of their lives, mind, body and soul. Although we often think of the mind and body to be separate, they are actually deeply connected, and it is essential to address both in addiction treatment. Attention to each system in the body is necessary for true, holistic healing and recovery.

Again, to overcome any addiction, the mind and body have to both be addressed. However, in order to achieve lasting, sustainable recovery, there also requires specific attention to the processes of the soul. In order for true recovery to take place, we must understand and heal this triadic connection, which can be done through several different techniques that can be called upon to access and draw focus to these varied parts of us and bring them into alignment.

What Is the Mind-Body Connection?

Everything you think in your mind, your beliefs, values, emotions, memories, and habits influence both your mental and physical health. We know from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that what we think affects what we feel, which in turn affects how we act. We also know that the opposite is true, that how we act – and in essence, our physical being – affects how we feel and think. We can easily feel this connection when we focus on specific thoughts and pay attention to our experience of them in the body.

When we think about being worried, stressed, or scared we can feel unease in the stomach, tension throughout the body, a racing heart, and shallow breathing. These thought patterns and emotions have a corresponding biological function and can contribute to imbalances within the body. Because our physical and mental health is so connected, to heal any disease or discomfort we need to approach both to re-establish balance and health.

Addiction and the Mind-Body Connection

Addiction finds a foothold in that it impacts the reward areas of the mind and body, allowing us to feel good or euphoric for a short period of time. Whether it is used as a way to numb the uncomfortable sensations that connect to past pain and trauma or simply as a way to relax, through the process of our increasing tolerance and our desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms, our body soon becomes physically addicted.

Psychologically, we become addicted when we turn to substances each time we feel stressed or overwhelmed with life circumstances. Thus, addiction is neither a solely biological or psychological construct, it is both.

Trying to Escape the Mind and Body

Our emotions and experiences of trauma are not just stored in the mind but also the body. This is why many people feel their body has betrayed them as it holds onto the left-over pain from the past. Our addiction often functions as a way to escape the uncomfortable mental and bodily experience of emotional pain and discomfort.

Our natural instinct is to try to escape it as we do not understand how to heal this split. To heal emotional pain, we have to find safety and learn how to connect with others and soothe ourselves in a safe and healthy way. This is where having body-focused techniques that help us to stay present as well as a supportive environment and someone to guide us becomes invaluable.

Healing the Mind-Body Connection

Since these two systems are interconnected, when we focus on one it influences the other. If we focus on nourishing the body through exercise, healthy food, and healing mindful breath, it impacts our mind, making it clearer and more focused. Many holistic approaches help to heal these systems and release our dependence on our addictive behaviors and thus make it easier to move through recovery successfully. When our mind and body come back into balance, we reconnect to our true self and often to our spirituality as well.

This part of us is often buried when we are being controlled by our addiction and a desire to self-medicate. Bringing balance back to the mind and body allows us to once again take control of our life from a loving and caring heart-centered space. For centuries, traditional forms of medicine have looked to address the whole person, not just a part. Many treatment programs only address the mind and miss out on the healing potential of the body. Fewer still capitalize on the healing potential of the soul.

At Villa Kali Ma, our holistic approaches don’t just address the disease or addiction, but include avenues to access the mind, body, and soul and heal all the parts of us that have become separated in order to restore the whole system. In addition to clinical approaches, we pull from ancient healing modalities such as Ayurveda, Yoga, and Shamanic practices that are built on this philosophy. Check out our blog on holistic healing techniques to learn more!

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