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Bodymind is a compound conjunction of body and mind and may be used differently in different traditions and scientific disciplines. These different understandings often inform each other. The conceptual separation of body and mind may be charted to Cartesian dualism. Bracken and Thomas state that: "in recent years neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists have argued that this ontological separation of mind and body is no longer tenable."[1]

Buddhist philosopher, Herbert V. Günther has stated:

What we call 'body' and 'mind' are mere abstractions from an identity experience that cannot be reduced to the one or the other abstraction, nor can it be hypostatized into some sort of thing without falsifying its very being.[2]

Vajrayana and Zen Buddhism

In Vajrayana, Mahayana, Theravada, Zen Buddhism the concept of bodymind, or namarupa, is key. In Vajrayana, namarupa is informed by the related doctrines of heartmind and Yogachara's mindstream. Within these traditions, Bodymind is held as a continuüm and field phenomenon. Arpaia and Rapgay discuss the connection of mindbody in the eighth chapter of their book, Tibetan Wisdom for Modern Life , entitled "Health: strengthening the mind-body connection".

Bodymind in science

Prevalent paradigms in neurology and medicine identify the mind with processes in the brain and nervous system.

In gender and sexuality studies, John Money develops a conception of 'bodymind' as a way for scientists, in developing a science about sexuality, to move on from the platitudes of dichotomy between nature versus nurture, innate versus the acquired, biological versus the social, and psychological versus the physiological.[3] He suggests that all of these capitalize on the ancient, pre-Platonic, pre-biblical conception of body versus the mind, and the physical versus the spiritual. In coining the term bodymind, in this sense, Money wishes to move beyond these very ingrained principles of our folk or vernacular psychology, in understanding sexuality, and aspects of humanness. Money suggests that the concept of threshold - relating to the release or inhibition of sexual behavior - is most useful for sex research as a substitute for any concept of motivation.[4] It confers a great of advantage of continuity and unity, to what would otherwise be disparate and varied. It also allows for the classification of sexual behaviors. For Money, the concept of threshold has great value because of the wide spectrum to which it applies. "It allows one to think developmentally or longitudinally, in terms of stages or experiences that are programmed serially, or hierarchically, or cybernetically (i.e. regulated by mutual feedback)."[5]

Herbert Benson has pioneered bodymind research, focusing on stress and the "relaxation response" in medicine. In his research, the mind and body are one system, in which meditation plays a significant role in reducing stress responses (Benson 1972).

Bodymind in anthropology

Drawing on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and other existentialists, anthropogist Nancy Scheper-Hughes has developed a concept of bodymind in relation to medical anthropology.[6]

Bodymind in existential phenomenological psychology

Existential phenomenologists engage the work of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Victor Frankl to re-conceive the bodymind for psychology.

See also



  • Arpaia, Joseph & D. Lobsang Rapgay (2004). Tibetan Wisdom for Modern Life. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1955-1.
  • Benson MD, Herbert. 2000 (1975). The Relaxation Response. Harper. ISBN 0380815958
  • Bracken, Patrick & Philip Thomas (2002) "Time to move beyond the mind-body split", editorial, British Medical Journal 2002;325:1433-1434 (21 December)
  • Gallagher, Shaun. 2005. How the Body Shapes the Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199204160
  • Keinänen, Matti (2005). Psychosemiosis as a Key to Body-Mind Continuum: The Reinforcement of Symbolization-Reflectiveness in Psychotherapy. Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1-59454-381-X.
  • Mayer, Emeran A. (2003). The Neurobiology Basis of Mind Body Medicine: Convergent Traditional and Scientific Approaches to Health, Disease, and Healing. Source: (accessed: Sunday January 14, 2007).
  • Mipham, Lama (Tarthang Tulku, trans.) (1973). Calm and Clear. Emeryville, CA: Dharma Publ. (NB: with forward by Herbert V. Günther)
  • Rothschild, Babette (2000). The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment. W W Norton & Co Inc.
  • Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1987. The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology with Margaret Lock. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. (1): 6-41.

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