Interactions take place between your mind, body, and behavior. Mind-Body Connection

Mind-Body Connection

The mind-body connection says that there are interactions that take place between your mind, body, and behavior.

Western mind-body techniques are grounded in the powerful ways in which your body, thoughts, emotions, social, and behavior factors can directly affect each other. These Western approaches to wellness both respect and enhance each person's quest for self-knowledge and enjoyment out of life.[6] Finding your Center

Highlights of the Mind-Body Connection

  • Greco-Roman culture encouraged the development of physical perfection.
  • Physical exercise is important for a sound mind.
  • The Western Greco-Roman approach to the mind-body connection differs from the Eastern meditation approach.

One of the first Westerners in modern times to write about the mind-body connection was Joseph Pilates. Right or wrong, Pilates pointed to the ancient Greeks for his inspiration to advocate the mind-body connection. While Greek philosophers, like Plato, actually started the Western trend of separating the mind from the body, Greco-Roman culture certainly encouraged the development of physical perfection.

Practical Mind-Body Connection through the practice of Yoga.

Ancient Greeks believed in doing everything in moderation. That means that they believed that the human body should never be neglected in the pursuit of higher education. They believed that our minds and bodies are not separate. They saw physical fitness as its own reward. Plato, throughout his writings, emphasized the importance of bodily exercise for developing the mind. His ideal was the harmonious perfection of the body, mind, and psyche. Bodily exercise was one of the methods that Plato advocated in his Republic.

Pilates wrote: "The ancient Athenians wisely adopted as their own the Roman Motto: 'Mens sana in corpore sano' (A sane mind in a sound body)."[2]

The Western Greco-Roman approach to the mind-body connection differs from the Eastern meditation approach. In the West, natural philosophies always start with the physical. The Ancient Greeks:

"fully understood that the nearer ones's physique approached the state of physical perfection, the nearer one's mind approached the state of mental perfection. They knew that the simultaneous and coequal development of one's ability voluntarily to control one's body and mind was a paramount law of nature."
Evidence of the Mind - Body Connection: Considerable evidence exists to support an association between psychological states and immune function; with inflammation being one possible mode of action or mechanism.[3],[4],[5]

For additional evidence on the mind-body connection see NCCAM's Mind-Body Medicine: An Overview.

A strong body improves the mind. And, the improved mind was believed in turn to improve the physical body.[1]

"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness."

Joseph Pilates added a new twist to the Western mind-body connection. Pilates gave the Greek adage, "know thyself," new meaning.[1]

"Volumes are now written and spoken upon the effect of the mind upon the body. Much of it is true. But I wish a little more was thought of the effect of the body on the mind.."

While you are developing your body, you can be developing your own mind at the same time simply by focusing your concentration on what your body is doing. That way, in the opinion of Pilates, both your mind and body are equally developed. You will end up achieving the state of wellness, that only "the attainment of perfect balance of mind and body" can provide you with.[1] Pilates wrote: "One of the major results of ... [mind-body exercise] is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control of our body." This process "begins with mind control over muscles." The exerciser should always keep their mind wholly concentrated on the purpose of the exercise as they are performed.[2] What Pilates suggested was that learning to balance and to control your own body-weight and learning to control muscles that you never knew that you had before by uniformly developing all your muscles with Pilates Matwork would end up stimulating brain cells into action. This is the reasoning behind Pilates' strong belief in the value of mental concentration during physical exercise.[2]

Return to Resilience

Additional information on this Web site on the Mind-Body is located at:

Mind-Body Connection Comments:


  1. Your Health, Published by Joseph Pilates, 1934.
  2. Return to Life Through Contrology, Published by Joseph Pilates and William John Miller, 1945.
  3. Glaser R, Robles TF, Sheridan J. Mild depressive symptoms are associated with amplified and prolonged inflammatory responses after influenza virus vaccination in older adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;60(10):1009-14. PMID: 14557146.
  4. Savard J, Laroche L, Simard S. Chronic insomnia and immune functioning. Psychosom Med. 2003 Mar-Apr;65(2):211-21. PMID: 12651988.
  5. Rosenkranz MA, Jackson DC, Dalton KM. Affective style and in vivo immune response: Neurobehavioral mechanisms. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 5 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 12960387.
  6. Ray O. How the mind hurts and heals the body. Am Psychol. 2004 Jan; 59(1): 29-40. PMID: 14736318

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