By Brianna Wiest

I recently read a little anecdote about how ideas regarding body and spirit became so disconnected: when Descartes began researching human anatomy and biology, he needed subjects – corpses – and the only way the government (church) would allow him to do so was if he agreed to stick to the physicality and leave spirituality to the church.

I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to acknowledge the body-mind connection, but I do think it is pretty far for some people to accept the idea that every bit of “dis-ease” their body experiences has a deeper, often subconscious, mental or emotional cause. (It’s harder to consider as it leaves us responsible for our suffering, which we, you know, are.)

Regardless, here are the traditional metaphysical causes of various ailments and diseases, organized by body part/area. It’s been my experience that most people find some kind of mental-emotional connection to whatever is going on in their bodies physically, and ultimately, being aware of this at the very least helps you be more conscious of what’s going on in your immaterial world – before your body demands you pay attention.


The right arm signifies giving and the left signifies receiving. (Generally, the right side of the body is connected to the paternal, and the left is maternal, which is crucial to keep in mind, as our parents are responsible for the foundation of our experience, and often, we carry their energies and beliefs and lack-of-love with us). Anyway: To have pain or discomfort in your arms is to feel as though you’re useless or you are not utilizing your capabilities. It could also mean that you are resisting love and/or relationships, and are struggling with it. It’s a call to recognize why you can’t accept other people into your life, what’s blocking that connection.It’s also possible that it means you refuse to embrace a new situation, or that you’ve been too influenced by your thoughts or other people’s thoughts to allow yourself to. It’s no coincidence then, that arms are an extension of the heart. Most “arm” issues ultimately have to do with accepting, loving, stepping forward, and letting go.


To have pain in your neck (an extension of your shoulders) signifies that you are too rigid in your outlook and mindset. You aren’t open to other, better possibilities, and this is hurting you, as you don’t know what’s best for yourself, though you think you do. Pain or tension in the shoulders (which is very common) represents anxiety and depression, but more specifically, it often is work or career-related. It symbolizes a lack of “flow” from the “doing” part of your body to the “perceiving” part of your body. That is: your brain and heart do not want to be doing something, but your body is anyway, hence the tension. To have pain at the lower base of your spine is to fear losing your freedom, or fear for your survival. Pain between the lower back and the mid-waist area indicates fear of losing something material (health, money, relationship status).The back generally represents “support,” so if you are having any back problems whatsoever, it usually means you do not feel you’re being supported in some way or another. It also indicates a belief that you must “have it all” in order to be supported and “safe.” It means that you want to do everything by yourself but that you also aren’t giving yourself the support or love required to effectively do so.Upper back pain indicates emotional insecurity. It means that you are holding yourself back from the “doing” part of love: you aren’t expressing it, you’re just imagining it. It also means you hold others to incredibly high expectations, and that you feel uncomfortable asking anybody else for help.


Stomach problems result from the failure to acknowledge or accept a situation, usually having to do with the reality of who you are/what you’ve done. Because you are rigid about not wanting to see certain parts of yourself, you have a very hard time allowing things to unfold naturally, and you have a constant tension, anxiety or worry that some situation will arise that will force you to acknowledge what you’re avoiding.


Knee problems symbolize inflexibility regarding the future. It means that you are being too arrogant, stubborn or closed off. Relatedly, it also indicates that you are afraid of moving forward, as you have too much unhealed or negative experience that has yet to be dealt with in the past.To keep your knee inflexible is also to preserve an inflexible attitude, which keeps you from finding easier ways to face potential disease.This can also mean that you have a big issue with surrendering, or that you’ve confused trust with “on-your-knees-submission.” This usually occurs in people who believe that accepting themselves as they are will be what actually lets them move forward, not the opposite way around.


Metaphysically, the throat is the center of creativity – it is the point in between the heart and the head. Physically, the throat is multi-functional, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the mental emotional causes of discomfort, tension, aches or disease are multi-dimensional as well. Possible causes include:

  • Difficultly feeling “settled” in life (think: preventing yourself from taking a deep breath to relax.)
  • Feeling pressure or restriction regarding what you truly want to say and express. Feeling as though you have to curate what you say, so often that you’re almost never communicating what you really think.
  • Being unable to accept (“swallow”) the reality of a situation: usually a past emotional trauma or attitude/reality of someone you care about a lot.
  • Not believing in yourself enough to design the life you truly want, or live the way you truly need to (again, center of creativity). Inability to love everything you create – to only “pick and choose” what you like (similar to only picking and choosing what you say).
  • Disconnect with your true nature/individuality.


Your coccyx represents your fundamental needs. To have discomfort there is to have parental issues, or a lack of trust in what you consider to be your foundation: the Universe, whatever “god” you subscribe to, etc. The truth is that you want others to take care of you, you want to relinquish your responsibility, as you feel it’s the easier and more convenient way. At the same time, you are fiercely independent and want to create a life for yourself, yet feel immobilized when you try to do so.


To have an issue with your menstrual cycle is your body informing you that your belief system concerning women in general is inaccurate. Your perception is unhealthy, and usually results in you being emotionally suppressive.Often, when an issue like this manifests physically, it’s not a conscious belief regarding gender, which is why it’s so important and urgent. You probably don’t even realize all of the beliefs society has implanted in you subconsciously. Additionally, it can indicate that there is a desire to be “saved” by the presence of the opposite sex (or by love from them).

Image: Jay Wennington

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