by Deb Shapiro
In Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness, author Deb Shapiro teaches the reader how to interpret the body’s “language of symptoms.” I was relieved to see, right at the start of Chapter One: “Illness is real. Accidents happen. Medicine can help. I am not writing this book in order to convince you that the sole reason for your illness is in your mind and that you must have done something wrong or are to blame for being ill. And I am not saying that simply by understanding how the mind and body work together you will be able to miraculously cure yourself of whatever ails you.”
With this practical approach clearly stated, Shapiro then goes on to explain the “bodymind” connection. Part One, “Finding Meaning in the Midst of Chaos,” explains the bodymind concept and learning how to listen when the body speaks. The author encourages the reader to look beyond the illness itself and to see how it can impact one’s life. For example, she poses questions such as “What does the illness stop you from being able to do?” and “What does your illness enable you to do?” An illness might give a person a reason to “have time to yourself, avoid personal problems, or avoid unpleasant issues.” Specifically under food allergies — which can certainly be real — questions posed include “Does being unable to eat certain foods make you feel special because you cannot eat in certain places or eat the same food as others?” and “Does it bring you more attention?”
Part II, “Your Bodymind Revealed,” is where one can look up just about any symptom “from the head to the toes,” and decipher what the body might be saying. I developed a condition I had never had before this summer — GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Deciding to look that one up and finding it under “Indigestion and Heartburn”, the questions the syndrome posed were: “What issues are you swallowing that are so sour?” and “What feelings are being swallowed that are so bitter or upsetting?” I did indeed find this had a correlation with a concern in my life that was taking an unusually long time to resolve, and one I was reluctant to explore any feelings about.
While this book alone is certainly worth the price of $19.95, it comes with a bonus CD that includes two guided meditations — “Talking with your Body” and “Bodymind Appreciation.” The first meditation is ideal for addressing specific physical (or mental) concerns and noting the imagery that comes up. Shapiro urges you to take notes, as some of these images may not make immediate sense but could hold the key to understanding your ailment(s). “Bodymind Appreciation” is just that — one’s body does an awful lot of work in many ways and is often taken for granted.
I found the meditations enjoyable and the book thought-provoking and informative. Your Body Speaks Your Mind will definitely be joining my health library.
Your Body Speaks Your Mind
by Deb Shapiro
Sounds True, Inc 2006
346 pp plus CD, $19.95
Review by Diane Saarinen