a shade of mind

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This article was written for The Fullest.

Inside your head, there is a demon-like pinball mercilessly ricocheting from one wall of your skull to the other. This metallic sphere of rage exists as your thoughts: the list of petty chores; the mountains of paper on your desk; the regrettable comment you made to your BFF. Darting back and forth, perpetuated by the flashing lights and relentless clamor, the madness carries on with no signs of stopping. 

Making an appearance in just about every realm of wellness, from breakfast to pilates, the concept of the mind-body connection is a prominent feature in today’s quest to live well. We are surely aware that our mental state has an inevitable impact on our physical well being. The pinball fires; your heart races, palms sweat, head throbs.  

We are ceaselessly scrambling for ways to better handle the stress, quiet the mind, achieve that idyllic state of zen. In fear of aggravating the beast that is our brain, we douse everything in adaptogenic herbs and preach every Buddhist mantra we come across, but the madness ensues.

Imagine a child, painting. This child is extremely cranky, nap-deprived, and applying their artistic skills in a sort of frustrated, delirious manner. As child-like painting so often goes, too many colors are mixed together, and the result is some shade of swamp. No matter how many more dazzling colors are added, the hue only turns muddier. We covet every potion and ritual that promises peace, and yet, despite our best efforts, a state of unfortunate swampiness remains; the beast inside our head growing even more temperamental.

Our failure lies in our inability to achieve the very essence of the mind-body connection: the separation of the two. It is the saturation of tips and tricks that prevents us from knowing who’s doing the talking: our (rather manipulative) mind or our body, who just wants the loving attention it deserves. We’ve fallen victim to our own thinking; led to believe that because all of the resources are available to us, surely we must need them. As a result, our body hardly has a chance to provide input on the matter. 

Is the ashwagandha-laced tonic you sip every morning a reaction of your mind telling you what’s right (or trendy), or the result of listening to the signs your body provides? The latter is certainly possible, but the point is knowing how to tell the difference. Recognizing the two parts as individual players in the game—that is the power of the mind-body connection. 

Truth be told, today’s lifestyle doesn’t exactly provide a stress-free oasis, but with all the talk about our anxiety and our efforts to combat the issue, we’re making it impossible to escape, inadvertently perpetuating a state of overwhelm. As much as we want to be rid of the mayhem, we are completely obsessed with it.

That’s not to say the wellness paradigm is the villain in all of this. It’s providing for a much needed demand: the desire to feel good, be healthy, and live a well life. The problem is we’ve taken to the movement like our six-year-old selves in a candy store, unable to resist the dazzling assortment of gummy worms. 

Pretend it’s possible to undo a bit of the tired artist’s work: one by one, removing the colors from the mix. Eventually the darkness lifts, leaving behind a bright shade of—take your pick. That color is already there, it’s just been tainted with a little too much stuff. There will always be the next best thing: the answer to all your problems. It will forever be changing, but what remains constant is the fact of there being you, and your body. The entity that houses your very existence—that’s the thing worth listening to. Only there will you find the answer. 

This requires telling the mass chaos of your mind to stfu: a seemingly impossible task when we’re constantly inviting the noise—even the ‘useful,’ mindfulness-approved noise counts. Our mind, specifically our inventory of wellness-centric knowledge, is in need of some serious Marie-Kondo-ing. But first, before assessing for joy, just stop. Step away. 

Empty the mushroom elixirs from your shopping cart; close the browser playing the gua-sha tutorial; refrain from checking your favorite Instagrammer’s latest inspirational post; leave the self-help books stacked in the corner for a minute. Run through the hills, make some jam—whatever it takes to stop feeding quarters into the arcade game rampaging inside your head. Feel the soles of your feet on the ground, aware of your body, just as it is. 

Kelsey Gleason