Mind-Body-Emotion Connection

Different pairings of this thruple of aspects of a person are often analyzed individually. What can be said about the relationships between these different pairings?

This page is a stub, created on 2020-04-16. Its contents are notes on the issues and angles I want to address about this topic.


While relatively coordinated physically, I've always had a pretty poor proprioceptive sense. I've only really come to realize this explicitly in the last few years. While I have good spacial awareness, am not clumsy, have good reflexes, and all these traits serve me well in physical sports, I tend to have a difficult time having a cognitive grasp of certain classes of physical sensations. For instance, if you gave me two dumbbells in each hand, one 20 lbs and another 25 lbs, I would have significant difficulty telling you which was heavier. Obviously, I could tell the difference between 5 lbs and 100 lbs, but I think that when it comes to weights that are closer, I'm worse than most people at perceiving the difference. By contrast, if I lifted a 20-lb dumbbell followed by a 25-lb dumbbell with the same hand, I could definitely perceive the difference. I take this to be reflective of a difficulty I have with certain aspects of symmetry. (Interesting side note: I wonder whether that's connected to a fixation I tend to have with things being symmetric.) Similarly, I have difficulty having an accurate mental model of my form when I'm lifting weights (eg, squats or deadlifts). I really need a lot of "imagine that you're doing X" kind of tricks to make sure I'm lifting safely.

I take this to be a perfect example of my poor mind-body connection.

However, I think I especially excel in the area of mind-emotion connection. It's one of the reasons that I have never really understood the T/F Myers-Briggs dichotomy. While I know that we can separate out, intellectually, analysis from emotion, my experience in any given moment is to simultaneously experience thinking and feeling, in a completely integrated way. When confronted with almost any stimulus, I'm feeling all the feels and all that same time, I'm analyzing the stimulus as well as my own reaction to it: What is my rational judgment of this stimulus? Why am I feeling the way I'm feeling? How is it connected to my values? Is this reaction calibrated? What should I do next? Etc.

There's a lot more to be said about that, including what the role of a consistent meditation practice is in that kind of mindfulness and awareness, something about the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex, and maybe even whether my corpus callosum is particularly developed. It's maybe properly the subject of another post (perhaps connected to Logicking Myself into Emotions). But I take my experience of thinking and feeling together to be a perfect example of my excellent mind-emotion connection.

So, given the above, what might we expect about my emotion-body connection?

Exactly right: I have a really hard time connecting my emotional feelings to my physical sensations. Oh, sure, I can talk about feeling tightness in my chest, a quickening of my pulse, faster breathing, pressure in my head, but that's about the extent of my vocabulary to describe the physical sensations that accompany emotions. My therapist is always challenging me to describe my body sensation after articulating, in perfect intellectual clarity, exactly the emotion I'm experiencing and why (even while enraged or crying). And I struggle more than I imagine most people do. And that is despite a significant attention to physical sensation called for by my guided meditation practice.

This raises some interesting questions about how to strengthen these connections. Maybe it implies a two-pronged approach: Try to understand physical sensation in general in a more intellectual way; and try to attend more to physical sensation whenever I have a strong emotional reaction.