'I think, therefore I am' is a saying you will hear much quoted. These words, written by the french philosopher Descartes, perhaps sum up what was for a long time the prevailing philosophy in the western world. Cognition rules...what it means to be human is to be a thinker...
At one level, who can argue? Science tells us we have much more developed conscious cognition than other sentient beings. We have yet to identify another being who can do the mental tricks humans can.
And yet, thinking is not all we are. When I meet clients who live predominantly in their thinking at the cost of their other senses, they are not often contented and happy. Often there is a sense of lack, of disconnection, or of being lost somehow
We do think, and thank goodness, where would we be without the capabilities and talents of the thinking mind? Thinking is essential, but it is not sufficient.
As well as thinking, we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. Before we had cognition, we had instinct, sensation and emotion. These other aspects of experience have been around for a lot, lot longer than conscious thought. Evolution has had time to hone them at length, and we are the product.
Humans are embodied. We have physical form. Science increasingly understands the integrated nature of the body, encompassing the brain with our other organs. For example, gut microbiomes are known to influence mood and brain function, mindfulness meditation as a practice has been shown to impact physiology widely, not just in the brain.
Healing comes in many forms. If you are struggling to think your way out of difficulties, stop trying. Drop into your body and attend to what you find there.
Tune in to your natural appetites for water and nutrition, feel into tensions and work to release them, have regular physical stimulation of whatever kind helps you (for example exercise, massage, mindful showering/bathing). Take time to release and clear your energy regularly - shake, stretch, move around, sing, be playful and find reasons to laugh.
There are many, many ways to attend to your physicality and so support your mental health. Take advice from Mary Oliver, and 'let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.' The body is a place of wisdom when we attune and pay attention to its knowing.
For support in finding connection with your whole being to support mental health, get in touch.