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BodyMind Gateway

Osteopathy | Life Coaching               
for Body & Mind               



Understanding the Body-Mind Gateway: The inseparability of the mindbody and the emotions behind symptoms. When the body talks, do you listen?


Body talk, mind-body connection, emotions behind symptoms, integrative healing approach.

The BodyMind Gateway: An Integrative Perspective To Healing

Have you noticed the connection between emotional stress and your physical body?That your symptoms are often more than just physical!

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has for centuries associated specific organs dysfunction and certain diseases to emotional disturbance. TCM practitioners will typically associate:

  • Lungs with sadness and grief
  • Liver with anger
  • Kidneys with insecurity
  • Heart with love
  • Spleen with worry


Ancient Indian medical and yoga practices also point to distinct emotional connections within disease states. Here in the west, we’re steadily coming around to the importance of adopting a more holistic health model, one that considers our ‘complete’ wellbeing. 

I have seen for myself many parallels between declines in physical health and emotional wellbeing, where suppressed emotions routinely show up in the physical body. It’s evident to me that when we suppress our emotions, they will eventually show up in the form of muscle tension, restriction, hyper-stimulation and pain! I see physical symptoms as messages from the deep, our sub-CONSCIOUS alerting us to specific states of imbalance. Acknowledging the emotional aspects of symptoms and disease can offer great insight into deep healing.

This isn’t to negate the physical causes to disease (ill health is clearly multi-faceted) but more a way to re-connect to the significance of their emotional associations.

The Subconscious Mind-Body Connection

The subconscious mind is that part of ourselves which runs in the background, quietly orchestrating our psychological programming and physical functioning. We can of course choose to learn more about what’s held in our subconscious – to bring more of it’s narrative into our conscious awareness. We can do so progressively by observing our core beliefs, values, habits, and tendencies. When we look closer at what’s expressed through our body and behaviours, we begin to see the hidden narrative play out. Perhaps the story from the inner child will emerge.

Psycho-emotional stress is known to trigger a cascade of physiological and physical changes to our adrenal output, neurological charge, effecting our muscular framework, postural alignment and beyond! The stress effect is easily seen when we’re exposed to sudden or prolonged stress. Conversely, our physical function and symptom picture can offer insight into our emotional state. How far does this really go?

There really is no separation between our various aspects of self – separation is simply an illusion! And so it’s to be expected that our emotions can and do express themselves through our physical and physiological  functiong …eventually!

Over the decades my (structural and cranial) osteopathic practice, and shared knowledge with numerous complementary healthcare practitioners that I’ve had the privileged to work alongside has provided such a huge insight into the beautifully intricate relationship between body and mind. It’s been instrumental in ‘waking me up’ to what I now see as glaringly obvious!

The Metaphors & Symbolism

When connecting the dots between your emotional and physical body map, it’s useful to go back to the context of what was occurring (both physically and emotionally) during the lead up to the onset of your symptoms. This will provide the key to more effectively deciphering the physical and emotional associations that preceded.

It’s important to also say that not every representation will present as absolute truth for everyone. They essentially provide a framework from which to begin your exploration to a deeper context of truth. Each individual case will have its differences.

Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to discern what is true for us. I suggest that you only take what resonates, and leave the rest.

The Head

Our head is the cornerstone of our existence as it operates as our control centre. What we display to the outside world. When we have problems with our head, it represents problems that we have with ourselves at a fundamental level. Headaches come from de-valuing or diminishing our capacity. Migraines represent the extreme pressure that we have placed upon ourselves (especially for the perfectionist). How high are your standards for yourself?

: I love myself enough to nurture my talents and abilities within a context of harmonious balance. I am enough.
Practical self help: Take time out for a relaxing head massage or soothing facial. Create space in your life to rest and relax well.

The Eyes

Our eyes provide us with the capacity to see well, be it up close or from a distance. When our physical sight becomes diminished, so to has our willingness to see what’s going on – past, present or future! Emotionally, shortsightedness (Myopia) represents the things that we don’t want to see which are coming up in the distant future. Longsightedness (Hypermetropia) represents what we don’t want to face in our lives right now. What is it that you do not want to see about yourself or your life -either now, or in the future?

Affirmation: I accept what I see with love and faith in my ability to grow through the challenges that I am presented with.
Practical self help: Tibetan Eye chart exercises can be a good self help tool to improve the balance of the ocular eye muscles (I use one at home to good effect). Cupping the eye muscles (with warmed hands) and gentle massage around the eyes and upper portion of the face can be helpful support to the blood flow.

The Ears

Our ears enable us to hear what’s going on around us. There unique shape serves to direct and amplifying sound into its complex inner hearing organs. Problems with the ears represent what we are not comfortable or do not want to hear. What do you not want to hear about? What are you blocking out?

Affirmation: I choose to hear with love, compassion and wisdom. I hear the positive aspects of things.
Practical self help: Hopi Ear Candles can be a useful way to clear excess fluid in the ears. Cranial Osteopathic techniques can help reduce ear pressure and inflammation in both adults and children.

The Neck

The neck provides us with the capacity to see things from many perspectives. Neck stiffness represents limitations in our view point, or an unwillingness to see things from another point of view.

Are you being stubborn in your perspective regarding a particular situation? What view point are you not willing to consider?

Affirmation: I lovingly see things from their many perspectives. I to see the benefits and opportunities in my position. 
Practical self help: Regular neck stretches, warm neck wraps and massage are an excellent means of supporting physical mobility and balance in your neck. These approaches may also help with neck pain and dysfunction.

The Throat

Our throat enables us to speak and express ourselves creatively. Throat issues represent our sense of inadequacy in speaking up for ourselves and making our needs heard. Throat infections suggest we’re feeling irritated or angry about not feeling able to express ourselves in a way that we choose. What is it that you would like to say (or do) but feel unable to?

Affirmation: I speak my truth and express myself with renewed confidence,  creativity and ease.
Practical self help: Neck stretches, massage and warm throat wraps can support ease in and around this area. Resting the voice can be beneficial when experiencing strain. Sipping warm (fresh) honey and lemon is helpful for infection reduction.

The Skeletal Bones

Our skeletal system provides a physical framework and support for our muscles and vital organs. It’s the deepest and strongest aspect of our physicality. Emotionally, our bones represent our deepest (and often most buried) emotional structure – our beliefs. When we break bones, we’re experiencing a disruption to our understanding of what we believe to be true. Who are you rebelling against? How might you explore (or mature) your beliefs?

Affirmation: I am balanced and well supported in my life. I am growing through my experiences.
Practical self help: Regular (moderate) weight bearing exercise is essential to the strengthening of our bones. Good nutritional intake (particularly vitamin C, D3, K2 and Mg intake) also supports optimum bone health

The Skeletal Muscles

Our muscle generate our ability to move well. Moderate physical tension is necessary to enable us to stand up tall. Too much and we begin to limit ourselves physically. Too little and and we become too weak to function well. Emotionally, too much physical tension represents limitations in our endeavours and a lack of comfortable options. Too little reflect s feelings of incapability in meeting the demands that we’re faced with.

Affirmation: I experience the fullness of life’s flow with perfect strength and ease. 
Practical self help: Balanced exercise programmes such swimming, yoga and pilates offers a combination of flexibility and strength for optimal muscle health. These kinds of activities can be easily adapted to suit many personal requirements.

The Back

Physically, our back provides an important part of our core protection and stability. And so it represents our sense of feeling unsupported and vulnerability when problems present here. Do you feel as though you’ve been stabbed in the back? Are your financial affairs leaving you feeling  vulnerable?

Affirmation: I trust life’s process and know that I have the strength to endure and grow through the changes that I face.
Practical self help: (see: Skeletal muscles)

The Arms

Our arms help us to physically reach out for the things that we want. They represent our ability to embrace life and take hold of the things that we’re aiming for. The elbows represent our ability to be flexible in the way that we approach tasks. Are you flexible enough to embrace the changes that you’re presented with?

Affirmation: I fully embrace the experiences that I encounter in life with flexibility and gratitude.
Practical self help: Stretches, mobilisation and massage can be highly beneficial.

The Hands

We use the hands to hold and grasp onto things, but tightly held hands do not create space for the new! The physical state of the hands represents what we are holding onto in life. Limitations and inflammation in the hands suggests feelings of restriction, agitation or anger over the things we’re aiming for, grasping at, refusing to let go of! What can’t you get to grips with? What are you refusing to let go of?

Affirmation: I trust that I can handle my experiences with comfort and ease.
Practical self help: Warm water soaking of the hands prior to massage can be helpful for hand stiffness. Cold water hand soaking followed by a short massage can be helpful for inflamed hands. See what feels best.

The Legs

Our legs allow us to stand tall while effectively moving us from one place to another. Our knees provide additional flexibility and ease of movement. Our legs represent our ability to move forwards in life, while our knees represent the capacity to change direction with ease. Problems with the legs indicate a fear in moving forwards in life, while knees suggest an issue with pride. Are you afraid of approaching future endeavours? Is the prospect of change a cause for concern?

Affirmation: I move forwards in life and trust that all is well. I approach whatever comes my way with confidence and flexibility.
Practical self help: Regular physical exercise is recommended for optimum health – particularly walking and swimming. Massage or physical therapy may be beneficial in cases of chronic dysfunction and pain.

The Breast

Our breast are a fundamental part of our ability to nourish and nurture others. Likewise, our breast represent our emotional capacity to nurture others. Problems with the breast indicate that we’re over nurturing, smothering or being overbearing towards someone or something in our lives. Who or what might you be over protecting?

Affirmation: I give and receive nurturing in perfect harmony and trust. 
Practical self help: Take a moment to step back, take a deep breath and reflect on your current way of nurturing. Is your approach stifling you or someone else? Take time to consider that you may be hindering someone else’s ability to feel free. Trust and support their ability to stand on their own two feet with confidence. What is driving your over nurturing? Where might you make small yet significant adjustments?  

The Heart

Our hearts earnestly pump an abundance of life sustaining blood to wherever it is needed. It represents our unconditional love. When we deny ourselves a connection to our inherent right to feel deep joy and love, we become prone to problems such as anaemia and heart problems. Do you let joy and love in? How cold, warm or open hearted are you?

Affirmation: I openly give and receive love joyously and abundantly.
Practical self help: Regular gentle exercise such as walking with adequate opportunity for rest is beneficial to sustaining the hearts physical health.

The Blood

The blood serves to nourish every aspect of our physical being. It sustains us. Emotionally, the blood represents our life force energy – our vitality and joy. The process of inflammation occurs in response to a physiological disturbance or trauma. Emotionally, inflammation represents a diminishment of our joy, and the stirring up of feelings of irritation and distress. Consider the relevance of its location in the body. Who or what is behind your irritation?

Affirmation: I recognise and embrace the many joys in my life. I happily go with life’s flow.
Practical self help: Regular stretching and massage can be useful ways to support physical and mental relaxation, improved circulation and a sense of feeling supported and nurtured.

The Lungs

Our lungs are physically responsible for the persistent ‘taking in of life’ through breathing. Lung problems suggest that we’re having difficulty managing life, perhaps overwhelmed by certain aspects of our life. This vital organ represents our sadness and grief. What aspect of life are you having difficulty taking in? Are you feeling overwhelmed by life?

Affirmation: I choose to live life to the full and I do so with love and compassion. 
Practical self help: Steadily increasing your depth of in breath can help to increase your lung capacity. This can improve your sense of ease, awareness and familiarity with sensation of deep breathing. Deep breathing exercises typically improve our sense of relaxation and calm. 

The Liver

The liver detoxifies the accumulation of toxins within the body. It represents our emotional detoxification centre. When we experience liver problems, we’re expressing our emotional toxicity – our anger. It also represents depression. What  is at the root of your anger? What’s or who is getting you down?

Affirmation: I let go of anger as I embrace the flow of love, peace and tranquility. I connect to the peace within wherever I go.
Practical self help: Drinking plenty of water will support the livers ability to transport toxins out of the body. Taking regular exercise that you enjoy can be helpful in processing pent up feelings of anger. Confiding in a supportive friend or a skilled therapist can be a lifeline.

The Kidneys

Our kidneys serve to remove excess fluid, balance our electrolytes and filter excess acids and toxins from the body. Our kidneys represent our filtering of  feelings of insecurity and fear. Kidney problems suggest that you are struggling with judgement, criticism, disappointment or shame. What is at the root of your insecurity? What are you afraid of?

Affirmation: I lovingly grow from all of my experiences and recognise the ever present opportunities for self exploration and growth in all experiences.
Practical self help: Acupuncture and acupressure can be a useful way to balance kidney energy and function. 

The Bladder

Our bladder acts as a container and point of filtration for urine – made up of the body’s toxins and excess micro substances that we either don’t need, can’t use or are damaging to us. Emotionally, the bladder represents an accumulation of the ongoing micro issues that we regularly encounter.  Problems in this area occur when we’re feeling irritated. What are you feeling pissed off about? 

Affirmation: I place my focus on all of the ways that I am flourishing and growing. I connect with my inherent sense of satisfaction and pride.
Practical self help: Cranberry extract can be useful in reducing symptoms of urinary irritation. Flushing the body with a good intake of water can also be of benefit.

The Stomach/intestines

The point where we digest and draw nourishment from the food that we have ingested. The stomach represents our capacity to digest (and draw nourishment) from our emotional experiences. Gut problems are an indication of our struggle to assimilate the situations that we are faced with. Sudden overwhelment or shock is known to cause people to throw up. What are you afraid of? What can’t you stomach?

Affirmation: I lovingly process any new situation that life presents. I see the blessing and opportunity in new scenarios.
Practical self help: A balanced healthy diet helps maintain good stomach and intestinal function. Exercise and massage can be an effective means of stimulating optimum digestion. Some find benefit in an occasional detox or intermittent fast.

The Genitals

Our genitals represent the most masculine or feminine part of us. Many of us have experienced a certain degree  of repression around sex (or our sexual parts) and sexuality from our parents or peers. Shame and judgement has been prevalent with many many cultures for centuries. Problems can occur in this area when we feel ashamed of our sexuality or experience inadequacies around sex. How comfortable are you around the topic or act of sex? What are you ashamed of?

Affirmation: I honour and enjoy my physical body. I celebrate my femininity/masculinity with confidence and joy.
Practical self help: Mirror work can be a powerful aid to reprogramming your self image. Take time to honour and respect what you see in your reflection. Reconnect with your sense of pride around your body. Perhaps offer your inner child the words of support and encouragement that they were once denied.

Meditation Practice:

This meditation can be used in connection with the affirmations provided above. Make the necessary adjustments in order make them more specific and relevant to your situation.

  1. Relax (lay down if possible) in a warm comfortable space.
  2. Take a few slow deep breaths as you relax your physical body – from your head, right the way down to your toes.
  3. Feel yourself let go, giving yourself permission to relax more and more with each breath.
  4. Use your chosen affirmation as a healing mantra.
  5. State your mantra slowly and clearly following each deep exhalation, taking the time to feel the truth of the words ripple through your whole body.
  6. Relax and continue to rest in your renewed sense of well-being.


Taking an integrated approach has its benefits. It allows the relevant emotional factors to be considered alongside any physical or medical advice that you choose to follow. You may even consider consulting a trained professional to support you through your emotional healing too. An integrated approach to healing means that you can explore multiple avenues simultaneously, without conflict.

What if we were to integrate a mind-body approach towards our personal well-being – how might this change things for each of us?

The question really is, when the body talks, are we prepared to listen?

Find out more about the vast range of metaphors and symbolism via or my YouTube channel HERE. Or perhaps join the discussion on Instagram: @kellymckay121 

There’s also the option to email me to book a 1-2-1 to explore your unique symptom picture (and root cause).

Either way, let’s connect!


Kelly Mckay

Kelly Mckay

Registered Osteopath & Integrative Life Coach