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The Mind Body Connection - Understanding Body Symbolism

Updated on December 13, 2017

Body Symbolism and Alternative Healing

Many people who are into energy healing,Reiki and new age philosophies, believe that our bodily dysfunctions or dis-eases can help us understand our emotional and psychological problems through body symbolism. In other words it's a belief that our physical illnesses are a reflection of our emotional or psychological states and that through healing our emotions we can heal out bodies.

Energy healers work with a strong belief in the mind body connection and will work with individuals and sometimes groups to help restore energy balance in a holistic way. A holistic approach to health means that the whole person is taken into account and all systems are seen as interconnected - mind, body and spirit. Each aspect of the self impacts on every other, therefore symptoms are seen as part of a whole picture,

The basis for the belief in body symbolism is that emotions that are unexpressed and/or unacknowledged get stored in the body and then show themselves as an ailment or physical problem. To heal ourselves we need to get to the root of the emotional difficulty, deal with it and then the physical problem will disappear.

Mind Body Connection
Mind Body Connection

Examples of Body Symbolism

Here are some examples to show you how body symbolism works. As with all symbols and archetypes it's best to discover your own personal meanings (see below on how to do this), but these will give you an idea of the type of thinking that is required to understand body symbolism and the mind body connection.

Athletes Foot - itchy feet - would you like to be somewhere else?

Stomach Upsets - is there something in your life you just can't stomach?

Hemorrhoids - is someone in your life a pain in the butt?

Earache - is someone giving you earache by going on and on about something or is there something you don't want to hear?

Stroke - do you need physical or emotional stroking? Are you lonely or disconnected from others?

Arthritis - have you "stiffened up" mentally?

Back Problems - having difficulty holding yourself up and possibly overdependent on others?

Mouth Ulcers - gossiping

Sore Throat - feeling unable to speak your truth.

Constipation - fear of letting go

Eye Problems - not wanting to "look at" a problem

Urinary Infections - feeling angry and pissed off about something

Connect to Your Personal Body Symbolism

If you would like to take the time to connect to your physical problem and discover how it's reflecting your emotional or psychological state, find some quiet time when you won't be disturbed and ask yourself:

  • When was the first I felt this pain?
  • What was going in my life?
  • What emotions did I feel at the time?

Really try to connect to your emotions and thoughts, no matter how ridiculous or "out there" you may judge them to be. Experience the full force of the emotion - cry, laugh, be angry - do whatever you need to do.

Using body symbolism as a method to connect to old emotional pain can be an effective method for energy healing in a very personal and holistic way. It can also help you understand your mind body connection and strengthen your self knowledge. Give it a go and see what comes up - you may be surprised!

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Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advise of your physician or health care professional. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, nor to prescribe any medication.  If you have or suspect that you have a medical condition, promptly consult your health care provider. Information and statements regarding home remedies have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  


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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I attended several workshops on this mind body connection years ago and it helped me a lot to learn how to have balance and harmony in my life.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      7 years ago from UK

      I know if my emotions are up the wall then I get physical symptoms. It's amazing that there's still a debate about it!

    • Hackslap profile image


      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I'm actually a complete believer in the connection between your physical and emotional/mental self..people tend to underestimate it all the time. ..personally as a believer (and practioner) of Reiki healing..I tend to soften the effects

    • visionandfocus profile image


      9 years ago from North York, Canada

      Great hub! Easy to read and straight to the point. I would add Deb Shapiro's Your Body Speaks Your Mind, and for the practitioner, Michael Lipton's Messages From The Body. Excellent references for your subject matter. Voted up!

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      9 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks - this is a great hub, and I marked it up and interesting. I use mindfulness meditation, Hakomi therapy, and Arnie Mindell's DreamBody work to understand the messages my body sends me through its discomfort.

    • sweetguide profile image


      9 years ago from River side

      Infomative one. Thanks

    • YogaKat profile image


      9 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Thanks for this concise and informative article. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • inspiredbydg profile image


      10 years ago from San Diego Ca

      I love the format; the way you connected to each illness and how to turn the physical into emotional or mental to see it as a symbol for what is truly the affected area, very good hub, I gathered some ideas to help me in some areas. Holistic thinking, thank you..

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      I love being outside too. One day I will live in a forest!

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      11 years ago from UK

      The mind-body connection is a very strong one. In my experience happy people seem to enjoy better health than miserable, moany people. Having said that, I'm sure that being in poor health might make you moany and miserable! I think there's a lot to be said for laughter therapy and I'd love to see more comedy on TV rather than all these cloyingly, depressing soap operas. Failing that, a stroll in the coutryside or by the sea is always a good pick-me-up.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi cecilia - thanks for sharing your knowledge on this. I read most of the science magazines so I'm aware that there have been studies on various aspects of the mind body connection and it is being taken more seriously by western medicine. For example in the UK, they started offering exercise on presciption to help treat depression. I think we're a little way off from understanding the mechanism fully, but certainly on our way. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • ceciliabeltran profile image


      11 years ago from New York

      The mind body connection is well documented and science has in the recent years confirmed that habits of thoughts do affect physiology and even genetics.

      It has been established that asymmetry in the body has a corresponding brain function asymmetry. Severely mentally disabled individuals would have a corresponding asymmetry in the body. Doctors look at the body of children to identify learning disorders. It is well documented. you just have to know where to look.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi OD :) There certainly is a mind body connection but I think it will be a while yet before science can explain it properly. Thanks for reading :)

    • Obscurely Diverse profile image

      Obscurely Diverse 

      11 years ago from Tennessee, U.S., Earth, Milky Way via Cosmos

      I've studied some of these things in the past...although most of them are ludicrous forms of insanity and a misconception of reality, but the fact is, Mind over Matter does exist!

      Nice hub... :)

    • nadiaazhar profile image


      11 years ago from kuwait

      Call it holistic thinking, it's been quite effective imagining the world's problems are all right in front of you on a smaller scale with your band. You deal with those relationships, and that's where real major change begins.I strongly believe in mind-body connection,thanks for the hub, it's a great reminder.

      Best Regards,Nadia

    • ramtulip profile image


      11 years ago from india

      the only way i found is to wait,wait for the message from spirit world.this message comes in the form of whisper ,vision

      or in a there are many positive forces,in cosmic region, ready to work on suffering souls through a proper medium.they manifest as a healing power only when they know that the suffering soul has learned its lessons in a hard way.if sufferer not willing to accept the presence of higher spiritual world beings then he will be allowed to suffere forever and in such situation's if a healer uses his own mind,with limited ego,feels that he should save the sufferer through his own healing strength's,then that would be the time the healer will be vulnerable to attacks from suffering soul.

    • hypnodude profile image


      11 years ago from Italy

      :) Yes, otherwise I have to throw away 20 hubs :) And some years of studying. I think cameciob is right, mens sana in corpore sano is a fact as much as corpore sano "needs" mens sana, I don't know latin so much:(. We could say that they both can influence each other, but 99% of the times the mind rules. But everything within us is interconnected so it's a little complicated.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi Hypno - thanks :) I have very little knowledge of hypnosis,(I only had it once to try and stop smoking. So from the hypnosis angle what's your take on the mind body connection? Can hypnosis help physical ailments? Nice to see you :)

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi cameciob :) I also have sinus problems for months at a time and for me it relates to the fact that I'm spending too much time in my head! I don't let my mind have a rest and it gets congested, hence the sinusitis.

      To overcome it I have to practically force myself to do more physical activities and remind myself that I don't have to be thinking all the time. Taking time out to meditate on the breath also helps me stop thinking. Can you relate to that or do you think your sinus troubles have a different meaning for you? Appreciate you taking the time to comment :)

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi Aya - you make some good points there. I wouldn't say I'm an expert on this topic but I guess in other languages they have their own expressions that may be more relevant to them. Maybe hypnodude can help with this since he's Italian?

      As for babies, again I don't know except to say that I would go see a doctor if my baby or child had signs of a urinary infection and not rely on body symbolism. I think babies can experience anger, but they also haven't had the time to create ingrained physical/emotional patterns as adults have. Many new age energy healers also believe in reincarnation, so maybe in this context they would say it was a psychological pattern brought over from a previous lifetime. Thanks for making me think about these questions :)

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi Green Lotus - Yes I've read some of Louise Hays work too. In fact I'd forgotten that she talks a lot about body's been a while since I picked up a book by her. Thanks for commenting :)

    • hypnodude profile image


      11 years ago from Italy

      I've never delved into body symbolism, I couldn't study everything, so I've found this hub pretty interesting, it's always good to know new things. And of course I agree on the mind-body connection, otherwise I would have studied 20 years of holistic medicine for nothing.:)

    • cameciob profile image


      11 years ago

      Hi Susana...very interesting hub. What would mean when you have too many sinus infections (other then allergies)?

      If i remember correct, it is said that Romans had an opposite philosophy, they said "mens sana in corpore sano" which would be "healthy mind in a healthy body". I do believe there is connection between them.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      11 years ago from The Ozarks

      Susana, this hub inspires a lot of thinking. I agree that the body-mind connection is a strong one, and that emotional problems can cause physical symptoms, as well as the opposite: physical problems can cause emotional pain. But I was struck by how linguistically based some of the connections you suggested were. "Being pissed" as a way of expressing anger is strictly an English metaphor. It doesn't work at all in many other languages.

      Also, I'm concerned that this kind of diagnosis might not work for babies. If an infant has a urinary tract infection, does it make sense to infer that the root of the problem is anger?

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Hi ramtulip :) You certainly have some interesting views of things! I believe that healing can come from others, but the most powerful healing is when the person takes responsibility for their own healing. If we continue to rely on others, we do not learn and are dependent on them - we don't find our own self healing power.

      I think rather than blaming others for our disease it's better to think in terms of what their stuff triggered in us. There must be something within us that is susceptible to their energy otherwise it would pass straight through and not get stuck in our body. That's my take on it anyway. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Green Lotus profile image


      11 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      As a holistic practitioner myself, I agree wholeheartedly with the theory of mind-body connection, but I love the way you expressed the concept here susana. It reminds me of Louise Hay's first books! Thanks for bringing it all back.

    • ramtulip profile image


      11 years ago from india


      i persoannly researched on these things for last 20 years and i found that whenever we tune ourself with someone,at deep emotional levels,we will interact with the good and bad of that particularbeing with whom we are whole heartedly involved.if we are at higher energy levels,we can ward off the negative vibrations from other soul and also we can help them overcome their troubles and if are at equal levels then the negative vibrations attack us in the form of disease and will trouble us aslong as we connect with this particular soul.once we withdraw from that relationship we will see healing starts taking place within our body.

    • Susana S profile imageAUTHOR

      Susana Smith 

      11 years ago from UK

      Thanks a2z50 and Hello Hello :)

      Hi Tony, yes I completely agree with you on your thoughts about body symbolism. (I actually need to expand this hub somewhat but I wanted to get it in for the competition deadline.) The symptoms and potential emotional meanings here are just examples to get help get into the thinking style needed to start working out body symbolism.

      I think that physical symptoms often do take the form of common expressions such as "itchy feet" or not being able to "stomach something", but I wholeheartedly agree that each person will be different and there are no hard and fast rules. The best method is to connect directly with the symptom and see what thoughts and feelings arise.

      Many thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts :) Peace to you x

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting new way of looking at it. Thank you.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      I agree that the body and the mind are part of a whole system. I just have some doubt about the seemingly mechanistic way that the symptoms are linked - a holistic approach would be less mechanistic, after all that is what holism is about, it's about replacing dualistic and mechanistic thinking and looking more deeply into the meaning that any dis-ease might have for the individual.

      To me linking for example itchy feet with wanting to be someplace else is simply replacing one kind of mechanistic thinking with another. A holistic approach would look into the meaning that the itchy feet might have for the individual, which might indeed turn out to be that they want to be someplace else, but it could also just mean that they have chosen to have a fungal infection because they are tired of standing, or want someone close to them to touch them more!

      Anyways I enjoyed reading this Hub.

      Love and peace


    • a2z50 profile image


      11 years ago

      Great content . Thank you for doing the research.

      I learned allot .


      As Always Also rprcarz50 Keep on Hubbing


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