By Amanda Campbell
Sports Kinesiologist, Speaker, Author
“Amanda believes that flexibility builds resilience. Overcoming adversity, Amanda discovered that a flexible mindset impacts everything that matters: your body’s ability to repair, how happy and resilient you are and how connected you feel.”
How I discovered the importance of Mind-body connection:
Hi, my name is Amanda Campbell, founder of Bend Like Bamboo my private practice and a concept built around flexibility leading to resilience. Learning these lessons inspired me to walk again after a paralysis in 2009 when I was 29 years old. When I was diagnosed with MS at age 24, from that moment on I found I began to focus on what I didn’t want and the worst-case scenarios. Because I was stressed, I was frightened for my future, living with multiple Sclerosis.
With a passion for wellness and my own personal story of recovery, I had to learn to believe in what could be possible for me when I had no choice but to succeed. Learning how to walk again after a paralysis, led to an awakening and full recovery for me. I made a promise to myself to dedicate my life to understand how the mind and body connection is connected to our ability to repair and to find resilience when we hit rock bottom.
Today I am a Sports Kinesiologist, Resilience Speaker & Founder of Bend Like Bamboo my private practice, specialising in mind-body health. I believe that flexibility builds resilience and at my core, I believe that when the mind and body are given the right environment, so much can be possible.
I believe that shifting from the habit of living in a survival state, to calmer and flexible one, is when our obstacles become our opportunities, professionally and personally. When we are calm and engaged, we are more resilient to be open to change, leaning into uncertainty. This is when we begin to live our life in a different way that makes us feel alive and fulfilled. To grow is to be in our most creative state where we are giving the mind the best environment to promote repair and optimal performance naturally follows.
Why is the mind-body connection important?
A connection is a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.
Your mindset is your collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape your thought habits. And your thought habits affect how you think, what you feel, and what you do. Your mind-set impacts how you make sense of the world, and how you make sense of you.
The physical body is made up of facia, bones, tissues, ligaments, joints, blood and cells etc. that are all connected to our mind, how we think, how we feel and what we are believing.
How we think, feel and perceive stress will determine one or two predominant pathways that we typically fire in the body. When the brain perceives threat, it will go into an alarmed and survival state to keep you alive in a fight, flight or freeze response. When the brain no longer believes it needs to keep you alive it will switch to prioritise growth and repair pathways instead.
Structurally, biochemically, emotionally and energetically we are so connected. When we are aligned mentally and physically, we are giving our mind and body the best environment to choose repair, to adapt to change, living our happiest and healthiest life.
The biggest downfall to growth, finding resilience and getting through change, is when we disconnect from ourselves. You know that feeling, where you feel like there is no longer a sparkle in your eye and you are lacking inspiration and willpower? This is not the best environment to repair or grow. Leveraging the power of connection is the best way to promote repair, positivity and growth.
When we doubt ourselves, we go into a stress response, we over think and entertain worst-case scenarios. From that moment on we will look for safer ways to get right back into our comfort zone. This leads to deep unfulfillment and we stop growing. We disconnect and stop connecting to those around us. This impacts our relationships and the ability to think outside of the box. It is not fun, and we lose a sense of adventure.
BENEFITS OF CONNECTION
- Achieve a higher level of understanding
- Develop a fresh mindset
- Change your inner biochemistry and belief system
- See obstacles as opportunities
- Adjust your view of yourself and the world
- Achieve a flow state
- Address and re-organise chaos in your body
- Take responsibility for your health
- Reduce stress
- Find answers and guidance
Negative thoughts can short-circuit our wellness and recovery, while positive ones can strengthen and protect our immune system. Exercising resilience and a growth mindset connects us to ourselves in ways that we are yet to understand. The best place to start is to amend our thinking patterns and beliefs as this alone can create change in our biochemistry, body and our entire life. What you believe and therefore how you perceive stress is key.
A Happy Mind
Every day we will wash our body because we know that it gets dirty. How do you wash your mind daily of negative thoughts, old ideas and patterns? Our mind is connected to our body, you would have experienced this when you feel nervous and your digestive system or urinary system plays up.
Our mind is connected to our biochemistry, you may have experienced this in times of stress when your fight, flight or freeze response switches on.
How we perceive our environment is a mirror image of what we are believing in our mind. Your reactions will always give you a clue as to what you are deeply believing about yourself and your circumstances. An example of this is a new Mum noticing more baby adds, conversations and books everywhere. They were always there; however, because of cognitive dissonance, we tend to notice in our environment, what we are focused on.
Emotionally we are connected, and our ability to process our emotions is directly related to how we will grow in our lives professionally and personally. How we think and feel is mirrored in our biochemistry and in our physical structure.
I find that daily rituals that bring me back into the moment, more grounded and calmer, is key to make the necessary changes to create transformation and resilience. I believe that a growth mindset is parallel to our ability to be calm, so that we can take the necessary moments to stop, reflect and process what is right for us and therefore what our next move should be in this big game called life.
In business, we must grow. As we grow the moving parts become more dynamic and complex, so it is important to set up a process that nourishes growth, change and connection. Flexibility in our mindset promotes resilience.
A daily ritual I love is I wash and empty my mind with daily journaling and meditation. These are great rituals for the mind as they help you to exercise your Qi (your body’s energy system). Qi is described as an energy that needs to be in balance for good health. According to TCM, qi is life force or vital energy. Our Qi is connected to our biochemistry, emotions and physical organs. Our Qi is the most malleable aspect of our bodies that we can alter, these changes will automatically translate to the other layers of the body.
I also like to visualise my day before I get up, I imagine the best-case scenario’s and feel what it would be like if that was my reality.
Have you ever noticed that just wishing for something to happen, doesn’t make it happen? That is because what you believe matters.
When our goals align with what we are believing about ourselves and what can be possible, we are can make things happen much faster for ourselves.
When they do not align, we can feel a deep inner conflict that lingers within us, causing stress and a lack of motivation while around us things just don’t feel like they are moving in the right direction… feels familiar?
I have noticed that when my ideas align with what I believe can be possible I am also maximising repair in my mind and my body.
Our reactions can give us a clue as to what we are believing. If you are feeling a lack of self-esteem or are not believing that things are working out for you in your life right now, thanks to cognitive dissonance we will set out to make our beliefs true in how we react, the decisions we make and how we show up in the world. It is also connected to how happy and healthy we are mentally and physically.
The brain’s Reticular Activation System will look for evidence in our environment align with what we are focused on, its job is to bring more resources to us so we can create what we want. What we are focused on will determine how stressed we are. When we are stressed, we tend to focus on what we don’t want, sometimes protecting ourselves by entertaining worst case scenarios. As opposed to when we are calm and more mindful in the moment, we are more adaptable to change, and we tend to open up, focusing more on the positive.
What we believe will dictate:
- How we show up and the decisions we will make
- How we manifest things into our life
- The biochemistry we will fire and the health of our body
For more information on the power of our conscious and subconsciousness brain, check out my eBook Happy Mind here
Movement and mindset
By exercising your body physically, you are also simultaneously working on your emotional wellbeing, as your muscles are connected to your brain via the nervous system, which then communicates with your organs. Each of your muscle and organ groups are related to emotional states that we go through, which can be identified using Kinesiology.
Movement aids the body to detoxify its systems and organs. It promotes mobility, strength and balance in your muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.
Exercise boosts your energy and delivers both oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
Movement fires recovery processes in muscles and neurons. Move and stretch daily for a stronger mind, and integrated emotional health.
Are you sitting down and staring at a computer screen for long hours every day? It is important to set a timer to get up and move in during the day. Move your body, as your muscles are connected to your body via the nervous system, they are also connected to your organs and emotional state. A stretch or movement routine will help to process any feelings or emotions that you are working through. Our state of mind is connected to how productive and create we are.
To optimise my mindset I move my body with stretches and exercises to process any feelings or emotions that are not in line with my best state. Other than being great for our posture and the health of our muscles including the heart, we also know that movement is fantastic for the digestive system. Daily stretches and exercises can also help to process your emotions.
Regular exercise is one of the best tools you can use to fast track your recovery. Though you might be tempted to use the excuse that you are time poor, studies have shown that interval training in small ten-minute bursts, 2-3 times a week, can be just as beneficial as daily exercise.
A great idea to keep you motivated and to make sure you’re doing the most beneficial exercise for your body and lifestyle, is to find yourself a strength and endurance exercise professional, such as a Functional Trainer, who can tailor a custom plan for you.
If you are recovering from trauma or an alarmed state, you also might want to consider a balance of strength & endurance vs. restorative exercise like walking, swimming or Tai Chi. Ensure you’re exercising all the different parts of your body as a whole rather than in isolation.
If you have mobility limitations, exercising in water is low impact and allows you to train muscles concentrically and eccentrically.
Stretching is perhaps the most important stage of injury rehabilitation. It provides the foundation for your body’s full recovery. Not only that, but regular stretching also has a number of other benefits that include:
- Increased flexibility
- Injury prevention
- Improved posture
- Relief of stress
- Increased performance physically and emotionally
- Balances emotional welling
Nutrition and mindset
I see food as the foundation and fuel to the mind and body. Our body depends on water and nutrients to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ need fuel to function optimally. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Our brain, muscles, skin and organs are all made up of water.
Just to perform your daily errands you require water and nutrients to think, walk, run and problem solve. When we are going through a difficult time emotionally, if stress levels are high or if our body is in need of repair, we are going to need more than the recommended daily intake, according to research.
In my experience, when I started to really ramp up my nutrient intake, my results became most profound. I remember coming home after I had lived in rehabilitation for two months. I was finally walking on my own and was mobile again. Progressively I let go of my wheelchair and walking aids and I was so excited to get back into life.
I was still repairing, so my body still needed to lay down a few hours a day, some of my MS symptoms were still holding me back from concentrating and performing all day like I used to. I was so grateful to achieve mobility but there was still more work to be done to get to the next stage of my recovery. I hit the books and researched all that I could on food and recovery.
This led me to discover doctors that had their own personal story of recovery and had achieved amazing results. So much so, that their recovery inspired them to study and research the results. I came across doctors like Dr Terry Wahls, Prof. George Jelinek, Swank, McDougal.
I started to cook and prepare all of my own meals following the most common denominators that were right for me.
The results were game changing.
Within a few months, I no longer had to lay down for half of the day – life changing. I could run the tan a running track in Melbourne the whole way a distance of 3.8 km.
My MS symptoms started to completely subside. Emotionally I started to get the spring back in my stride, the sparkle back in my eye – life changing.
For me this was proof, when you eat better you are giving your mind and body the right environment to do what it knows best. It knows how to find homeostasis and balance again. But it needs the co-factors, vitamins, minerals and adequate hydration to repair or perform at its best.
Nourish your body on a cellular level eating ethically sourced and organic where possible real wholefoods.
5 steps to increasing Happy Food
1. Focus on what to increase: plants, greens, colour, sulphur, iodine, good fat, fibre, fermented.
2. Master X 5 salads x 5 sides x 5 sauces x 5 proteins mix and match = 625 recipes!
3. Eliminate any inflammatory foods and potential allergies, wheat, gluten and dairy and cut down on coffee, sugars, artificial flavours and sweeteners, processed foods, alcohol.
4. Where your food comes from matters to maximise nutrients source organic, ethical and free-range foods.
5. Hydrate because water makes up: 90% of your lungs, 76% of your brain, 25% bones, 75% muscles that move your body, 82% blood transport nutrients.
Check out my eBook for healthy Happy Food recipes here
How you can connect your mind and body to maximise repair:
The first step is to identify any inner conflict; once you are aware of the blocks, you can find clarity and from here you can take responsibility and the steps to be in alignment for creativity and innovation. You can rewire your brain to promote a growth mindset, where you will see your obstacles as opportunities and the gifts the challenging times can bring. Mastering your mind and state is key, with consistency, so much can then be possible for you, in your health and in your lives.
Within ourselves, integrated through our relationships and work culture, a growth mindset is also a catalyst for innovation. Our state becomes contagious as we are all so connected. A happy mind is connected to a happy body whilst we are nourishing it with happy foods. When we eat better, we feel better. When we feel like a leader we think and act like a leader too.
1.Reassess with awareness
First, we need to be aware of what is blocking us. We do a great job of burying inner conflicts, additionally when difficult emotions arise and they are too painful, we suppressed them to cope. Over time we can lose touch with how we really feel, who we really are and what we really want in our lives. Becoming aware of our inner conflict and understanding the cause of what is holding us back empowers us to transform and heal.
With awareness brings choice. From here we can take responsibility for our mindset, perceptions, health, and the results in our life. We can change our mind about what we are believing about ourselves or our situation. Taking responsibility is empowering and from this space we can see our circumstances through new eyes. When we are calm, we can create new ideas, beliefs, behaviours and habits, seeing obstacles as opportunities.
3.Reset and rewire the brain
Empowered with understanding and the clarity of a path forward, we can now take the steps to rewire our brain. It takes approximately 21-30 days to create a new habit, so consistency is key. Neurones that fire together wire together. When we learn to focus on what we want, feeling safe and positive, we can change our minds about what can be possible for us.
5 tips to mastering mind-body connection
- Catch yourself when you react and choose your reactions in the moment. Remember your reactions are a mirror image of what you believe. Ask yourself when you are reacting in the moment; is this aligned with the vision of who I want to be or my goals? If it is noticeably a negative reaction, ask yourself what might I believe about myself or what is possible for me, that is in conflict with my goals? This is a great tool to bring into your awareness, what is blocking you and from here you can respond mindfully, rather than reacting. Kinesiology is a great tool to help you to identify any inner conflict that may be going on for you.
- Bring yourself back into the moment, as being present in the moment is your most creative state. It will also activate calm and repair chemistry in the mind and body. Try to meditate as often as you can with a goal to empty your mind and eliminate constant stimulus. From this space you can tap into your intuiting and inner wisdom. Your best decisions will be made on your meditation matt.
- Internal dialogue is critical. Sharing wisdom not baggage is a great intention. Did you know that your internal environment sends a message to your cells? Thanks to our receptors they gather information, which decide which pathway to fire, one of growth and repair, or one of survival and protection. When you think like a leader, you will feel like a leader and act like one too
- Setbacks are designed to move you. At times you are going to feel uncomfortable, otherwise you would remain in the same place. To prioritise a mindset of growth, get used to getting out of your comfort zone and leaning into uncertainty. It will make you feel alive, enabling you to receive more joy in your life. Make it a safe place in your meetings at work to foster and nurture thinking outside of the box.
- Focus on what you want, mix that in with joy and purpose and you have a recipe for growth, repair and innovation.
My story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMygBC5jNZ0
Amanda believes that flexibility builds resilience. Overcoming adversity, Amanda discovered that a flexible mindset impacts everything that matters: your body’s ability to repair, how happy and resilient you are and how connected you feel.
Amanda has eBooks online, next year she is launching her book ‘Becoming Resilient, How I learned to Bend Like Bamboo’. She is also releasing her online course in 2020. When Amanda is not consulting at her practice, she is helping teams and businesses boost their resilience and happiness in the workplace.
“How you think and feel and believe is a mirror image of how you perceive your environment, how you will show up when tested and the health of your body” Amanda Campbell
With a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis at age 24 and a paralysis at just 29 years old, Amanda was faced with never walking again. She was stretched to her limit emotionally and physically. With no choice but to succeed and the odds stacked against her, Amanda had to change her mind about what could be possible to create new results.
Embracing a balanced approach, Amanda had to embrace uncertainty and change to discover what she was made of. Learning how to walk and run again led to her transforming her mind, body and life. Now a decade on, Amanda’s passion is to inspire others to embrace their obstacles as an opportunity to awaken their potential whilst maximising health.
Amanda truly believes when given the right environment, the mind and body are capable of producing incredible results. Amanda founded her private practice Bend Like Bamboo in 2013 after winning a Go For Gold Scholarship with MS Limited where she specialises in mindset. A year later she co-founded her second start up Nourissh that received funding from VinoMofo with a focus on nutrition. As a proud MS Ambassador, Amanda has built a career speaking about resilience, promoting wellbeing and potential. Her sessions are built around three key core themes of a Happy Mind that is connected to a Happy Body whilst nourishing it with Happy Foods.
Amanda in the media
Workplace Wellbeing Program – YouTube