Every passion, every emotion, has its effect upon the mind. Every change of mind, however slight, has its effect upon the body.Hazrat Inayat Khan
What is Physiology?
Have you ever felt miserable or depressed? At the time did you pay attention to your body? How was it moving? How was it positioned? What were your eyes focusing on? What kind of gestures did you make? How were you breathing? What sort of facial expressions did you make? Were you even conscious of these signals? Or did you simply not care to give it any attention?
If you paid little to no attention to your physiology at the time, then you clearly missed out on an incredible opportunity to unlock the creation process of your emotional experience.
Your state-of-mind is intrinsically connected to your physiology. In fact the two are so closely intertwined that slight changes in one can lead to significant changes in the other.
Physiology is a broad term that refers to:
- Movement of the body
- Gestures made
- Eye-gaze or focus
- Rate and depth of breathing
- Level of muscle tension
- Facial expressions
- Position of limbs
- Alignment of spine and head
The Mind-Body Connection
The mind reflects your physiology by responding to its levels of tension, rate of breath, speed of movement, and to your attention and mental focus. Likewise your body mirrors your thoughts, feelings, mood, and responds to your state of mind, the questions you ask and the words you speak on a daily basis. Both are intrinsically connected and intertwined in an intimate dance that lasts a lifetime.
What Does All This Mean?
If the mind and body are intrinsically connected — meaning that one has a direct affect on the other — then it poses the argument that if we directly and consciously take control of one, that it will directly influence and transform the other. Therefore by taking the time to purposefully adjust how you use your body will immediately influence your state of mind, and could likewise dramatically transform the course of your decisions and actions.
The Physiological Experiment
To prove how powerful this can be, follow along and participate in the following physiological experiment.
In a moment I will ask you to experiment by adopting two states that are on opposite sides of the emotional spectrum. The first state is depression and the second state is confidence.
Take time now to experience each of these states separately by adjusting your physiology accordingly with the following guidelines. Please be sure to spend at least 2 minutes experiencing each emotional state exactly as described.
Experiencing a State of Depression
- Think about your problems and mistakes.
- Speak slowly, methodically and in a monotone voice.
- Walk rigidly and slowly while shuffling your feet.
- Make sure you slouch your shoulders, sink down in your posture and feel the tension building up in your body.
- Breathe in a shallow, uneven manner using your upper chest.
- Make sure that your eyes are looking down and have a very narrow range of focus.
- Wear a disheartening frown on your face.
Before switching to the next emotional state, shake your body out from head to toe for 10 seconds.
Experiencing a State of Confidence
- Think optimistically about solutions and positive outcomes.
- Speak passionately with increased volume and tempo.
- Walk quickly with purpose ensuring that your back and shoulders are straight and that you’re moving your body freely.
- Make sure to use gentle gestures and walk lightly on your feet.
- Breathe using your abdomen evenly and deeply.
- Make sure your eyes are looking forward and that you are using your peripheral vision.
- Wear a cheeky grin on your face.
Now that you have experimented with both states, what’s your verdict? How did each emotional state feel? Was there a distinct difference between the two states? What role did your body play in helping you transform your state of mind?
If you completed the experiment correctly you probably realized how small changes to your physiology can dramatically transform your state of mind. We actually make these shifts and changes all the time without even thinking about them. Maybe from this moment onwards we can do them proactively, consciously and with purpose.
Find Your Peak State
The most successful people in the world, whether in business, sports or any other career path are at their best when they are working from within their optimal peak state. This state means different things to different people. It’s therefore important to identify the peak state that is right for you — allowing you to work to your highest potential at any one moment in time.
Here are some guidelines that will help you find your peak state:
Start by becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions and current frame-of-mind. Also pay attention to your mental focus and how you perceive things and circumstances. This awareness will help you gain deep insights into your current state of mind, while assisting you with your search for your peak optimal state.
Extend Awareness to Physical Body
Now, begin extending your awareness to your physical body. Ask yourself:
How does my body feel?
How am I sitting or standing?
What is my body doing?
This awareness will help you manage your body more effectively as you strive to maintain an optimal state of mind.
Cultivate Empowering Traits
There are certain traits and characteristics that are naturally conducive to bringing forth an optimal state of mind. For instance, by taking time to cultivate charisma, passion, enthusiasm, curiosity, optimism, patience and persistence will instantly help empower your thoughts and transform how you use your body on a daily basis.
To begin cultivating each of these states simply ask yourself:
How would I use my body if I was filled with passion or enthusiasm?
How would I use my body if I was curious and fascinated about my problems?
How would I use my body if I had an incredible amount of patience?
How would I use my body if I was the most charismatic person alive?
What would I say to myself?
What would I focus on?
How would I focus on things?
What gestures would I make?
How would I breathe?
What would I think about?
How would I walk?
How would I talk?
How would I interact with others?
What kinds of decisions would I make?
What kinds of actions would I take?
How would I look?
Focus on the Positives
It’s very easy for us to get completely absorbed in our day-to-day problems. In such instances we tend to focus on what’s not working or on what’s difficult. This often leads to limiting emotions and likewise physiological changes.
In order to experience our peak optimal state we need to always focus on solutions and opportunities that will naturally encourage us to keep moving forward towards our goals and objectives.
Model Successful People
In addition to everything we have discussed thus far, it’s also prudent to model the peak states of successful individuals whom you admire. These people are successful because of the states that they are able to maintain consistently over time that help them perform at the highest levels.
Study these people, model their states, and soon you too will begin replicating their results.
Writing Out Your Physiological Recipe
In the previous section we identified a number of empowering traits that are critical for success in any field of endeavor. We’ll now take a look at traits that you personally believe are absolutely critical to your success in your area of expertise. Let’s unlock your physiological recipe.
1. Select Critical Trait
Select a trait that is required to achieve your goals and objectives. It could for instance be confidence, creativity, enthusiasm, passion or motivation. Choose just one empowering state that will have the greatest lasting positive impact on your life.
2. Identify Time You Experienced State
Think back to a time when you experienced this state. Reflect upon this experience and identify how you used your body and gestures, where and how you focused on things, how you breathed, what you said to yourself, etc.
Go through all the reference points we discussed in the previous section and identify in detail on paper the exact psychological and physiological recipe you used to get into this particular state-of-mind.
Also take time to consider what events, people or circumstances might have triggered this state and how you responded at the time.
3. Adjust Your Physiology
As you think about this peak optimal state, begin shifting your physiology to match your past experience. While you’re doing this, ask yourself:
What am I thinking about?
What am I focusing on?
How am I focusing on things?
How does this affect or change my physiology?
Make a mental note how your body is responding to this emotional state. This will help you unlock your physiological recipe.
4. Practice and Anchor State
Once you have unlocked your physiological recipe, now comes time to lock it away for good in the recesses of your mind. To do this, you must ensure that you form a new habit that is lasting and transforming. This is best achieved by creating an anchor that involves physically anchoring the desired state to a part of your body.
As you think about this optimal state and adjust your body accordingly, lightly tug on your earlobe when you feel you are at the peak of your emotional experience. Do this several times per day over a period of a few days. If done correctly, you will establish a lasting anchor that you can use at any time to call forth your optimal state and physiology.
Rapidly Shifting Your Physiological State
When we feel disheartened and miserable it’s easy to fall prey to our emotions and very difficult to find the motivation to change our physiology and movement. However, if we want to maintain the highest levels of productivity, then we must as often as possible maintain a peak emotional state.
Here are some quick and easy ideas that will get your body moving and help you dig yourself out of a lazy slump:
- Listen to energizing or inspirational music.
- Start dancing and moving your body to music.
- Hit a punching bag.
- Do some exercise.
- Go for a walk.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Sit still and breathe deeply from your abdomen.
Each of these suggestions will help you shift your physiology and improve your focus and concentration. As a result you will become more active and productive throughout the day.
Hazrat Inayat Khan once said that:
Every passion, every emotion, has its effect upon the mind. Every change of mind, however slight, has its effect upon the body.
There’s no denying that both mind and body are intertwined in a remarkable way where the fate of one lives in the hands of the other. This is probably quite unfortunate, because it means that there are no longer any excuses that could justify cultivating a miserable heart. 😉
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and that you took the time to download the physiology of excellence mind map, which is available as a printable pdf poster from the IQ Matrix Store. I’ve designed it as a reference guide you can use to help you understand the key concepts and ideas presented within this article. I look forward to hearing any comments or questions you might have.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Would you like to keep these concepts at the forefront of your mind? If so, then you might like to download the accompanying mind map reference poster to your iPad, tablet or computer. The map presents you with a quick overview of this article. It’s designed specifically to help improve your memory and recall of this information so that you can better integrate these concepts into your daily thoughts, habits and actions.
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