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Lillian Wilson

Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by Joan Borysenko

Discover an in-depth exploration of the mind-body connection, offering practical techniques to enhance well-being and manage stress.

Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

In today’s fast-paced and stress-laden world, it comes as no surprise that a significant portion of visits to family practice physicians revolves around illnesses that are either self-resolving or linked to anxiety and stress. Indeed, major studies reveal that nearly 75% of such visits fall into these categories. This statistic underscores the undeniable connection between the mind and body, where mental well-being profoundly influences physical health.

In this review, we will explore a book that directly addresses the intricate interplay between the mind and body – ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’ by Joan Borysenko. With a focus on the mind-body approach to health, this book delves into the profound impact of our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs on our physical and emotional well-being.

Author’s background

Joan Borysenko, PhD, is a highly accomplished author with seventeen books to her credit.

Joan Borysenko (r)

Among her notable works are the NY Times bestseller ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind,’ ‘It’s Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change,’ and ‘Your Soul’s Compass: What is Spiritual Guidance?’ As a distinguished pioneer in integrative medicine, she has earned worldwide recognition for her expertise in the mind/body connection.

What is the book about?

Joan Borysenko’s book ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’ delves into the mind/body approach to health and provides proven techniques for managing physical and emotional well-being. Drawing from her pioneering work at the Mind/Body Clinic in Boston, the book highlights the clinic’s impressive achievements in treating a wide range of conditions, including allergies and cancer, using the mind/body approach.

The book covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Scientific background of mind/body interactions

  • How our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health

  • How to use meditation, breathing exercises, and stretching to induce the relaxation response and gain better control of the stress response and the autonomic nervous system

  • How to become an observer of the mind, allowing for a gradual process of breaking free from conditioned patterns of thinking

Table of contents

  • Dedication
More…
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • zIntroduction
  • Chapter 1 – The Science of Healing
  • Brain, Mind, and Molecules
  • The Big Three Negative Emotions: Depression, Anxiety, and Anger The Stress and Relaxation Responses
  • Mind/Body Programming The Dangers of Helplessness Hardiness: Overcoming Helplessness Down with Guilt!
  • Chapter 2 – Getting Back in Control
  • Stress as Opportunity
  • Meditation Is Being Here Now
  • The Process of Meditation
  • The Experience of Meditation
  • Chapter 3 – Breaking the Anxiety Cycle
  • Cutting through the Anxiety Cycle
  • Cycle Breaker 1: Breathing
  • Practising Abdominal Breathing
  • Cycle Breaker 2: Stretching
  • The Anytime Series
  • The Full-Body Relaxer Series
  • Breathing and Pain
  • Chapter 4 – Mindfulness and the Discovery of the Self
  • Mindfulness: Meditation in Action
  • Mental Conditioning
  • Healthy Mindedness
  • Development of the Ego: The Judge
  • Going Beyond the Mind: The Witness
  • Surrendering to What Is
  • Chapter 5 – Mind Traps
  • Learning to Let Go
  • The Dirty Tricks Department of the Mind
  • Getting What You Want
  • Getting What You Don’t Want Mind Traps: Double Jeopardy
  • The Three Levels of Understanding
  • Chapter 6 – Reframing and Creative Imagination
  • An Exercise in Reframing Reframing in Daily Life
  • The Art of Reframing
  • Chapter 7 – Healing the Emotions
  • Emotional Mind Traps
  • A Healthy Attitude Toward Emotions
  • The Myth of Negative Emotions
  • Restoring Balance to the Emotions Understanding Your Emotional Style
  • Learning from Emotions
  • Regrets and Resentments
  • Finishing Old Business
  • The Meaning of Forgiveness
  • Chapter 8 – Sam’s Story.
  • Epilogue
  • Additional Reading
  • Self-Assessment
  • Index
  • Copyright Page

Key takeaways from ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’

1There is a direct correlation between your thoughts and your health on a cellular level

In her book, Joan Borysenko explores the fascinating interplay between mind, body, and healing, shedding light on the power of belief, faith, and imagination in influencing our well-being. Through studies in psychoneuroimmunology, she reveals how emotions and thoughts can trigger profound physiological responses, affecting the immune system, cardiovascular health, and overall wellness. Stressful emotions like depression, anxiety, and anger have been linked to chronic inflammation and various health issues while inducing the relaxation response can promote healing and balance. This captivating exploration urges us to understand the profound connection between our thoughts and physical health, unlocking the potential to harness the power of the mind in pursuit of greater well-being.

2When people are confronted with a problem, they often fall into a mind trap

A worried mind is like someone addicted to seeking happiness through things and achievements. But true happiness comes from within, by staying calm and observing the present. Practice mindfulness to break free from mental entanglements. It may be uncomfortable at first, but being aware helps you make better choices. Avoid falling into mental traps like craving power, obsessing over desires, or tying happiness to the future. Do not bully yourself or get stuck in blaming others. Instead, learn to see things differently and find the good in challenging situations.

The book offers practical ways to resolve conflicts caused by mental traps. Change your attitude, reflect on your behaviour, and seek to understand others. Be creative in how you view situations, focusing on the positive side. This way, you can live a more fulfilling and content life.

3Meditation improves immunity and provides other health benefits

Meditation offers numerous benefits, such as calming breathing patterns and the mind, reducing stress responses, and enhancing present-moment awareness while reducing worries. To become a successful meditator, motivation, effort, and determination are necessary. It may take time to establish this new habit.

Replacing discouraging thoughts with positive self-talk can be helpful when learning to meditate. Meditation can serve as a portable mini-vacation and aid in overcoming chronic issues like insomnia. Initially, it may lead to anxiety as troubling concerns and responsibilities flood the mind, but it is normal to let these thoughts pass without engaging with them.

To meditate effectively, find a tranquil space, assume a comfortable position, close your eyes or focus on a neutral spot, release physical tension using relaxation strategies, observe your breath, and repeat a simple phrase to yourself. Do not criticise yourself if your mind wanders; instead, gently guide your attention back to breathing and the repeated phrase. A daily meditation practice of 10 to 20 minutes, preferably before meals, can yield significant benefits.

Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews

The book has gotten 4.10 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

Strengths

  • The author’s extensive credentials make the book highly credible.

  • The book provides practical advice on meditation, breathing techniques, and reframing thoughts.

  • The book is well-written, making it approachable and enjoyable for readers.

  • The personal narration by the author in the audio version adds depth and authenticity to the content.

Weaknesses

  • Some readers may be put off by the inclusion of religious references, particularly if they are seeking a more secular approach.

  • The author’s inconsistency in advising against speculating on others’ actions while providing anecdotes about why people behave a certain way can be confusing and contradictory.

Best quotes from ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’

“The way our minds work – the degree to which we awfulize – also depends on genetic predisposition and previous conditioning. The responses of our parents and other influential role models shape our own reactions to life.”
“Major studies indicate that approximately 75 percent of visits to the family practice physician are either for illnesses that will ultimately get better by themselves or for disorders related to anxiety and stress.”
“At those moments when the mind takes a backseat and the inner dialogue slows down, what’s left is the experience of just being in the present. Even when that experience is simply watching the breath and repeating a focus, it brings about a sense of relaxation and peacefulness because that state is what our basic nature actually is.”
“The final goal of meditation is to become awake – here and now – so that conscious choice and peace of mind become the norm rather than the exception.”

Final takeaway

Joan Borysenko’s ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’ is a compelling exploration of the mind/body connection, revealing the immense power of the mind over our physical and emotional health. The book offers practical techniques for managing stress, achieving mindfulness, and breaking free from mental traps.

Readers seeking to better understand the profound impact of thoughts on their well-being will find this book invaluable.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback, hardcover, audio and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.


Healthypedia FAQ

Yes, the book is approachable and offers practical exercises that can be beneficial for beginners looking to explore mindfulness and meditation.

Yes, the book draws from scientific studies, including psychoneuroimmunology, to demonstrate the profound impact of thoughts and emotions on physical health.

Readers can learn to manage stress more effectively, improve emotional well-being, and develop a greater understanding of the mind-body connection.

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