MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT
By Deborah S. Kaufman, LCSW
Sometimes we get hung up on one aspect of ourselves as we relate to the world around us without maintaining the broader perspective of all that we really are. When we remember that we are not just our body, not just our mind, not just the different roles that we play in our day to day life, the possibilities for change become increasingly vast and more meaningful. When we approach our challenges from the whole person perspective that incorporates the interrelatedness of mind, body and spirit, the process of change can be exciting and energizing. By balancing our energies, we can experience a synergistic effect that helps us be more efficient in everything we undertake, with more enthusiasm and less perceived effort. Have you noticed people who seemed to excel at whatever they did and thought they are so lucky, I wish I was more like that? Well, it is not just luck that gets these people where they are. It is a combination of belief in themselves, faith in the universe and a healthy balance of mental and physical activity that provides stimulation as well as relaxation.
Some motivational speakers believe that they have mastered a formula for success that is teachable and works for most people. While I believe that the art of successful living is a learned process and has certain identifiable components, I also believe that because as much as people are similar they also have unique sensitivities and sensibilities, we have to tailor the process to support who each of is as an individual.
There are some general guidelines that I can offer for successful living. Let’s start with the body, since it is the form that contains all our energies. You have probably heard the expression that your body is a temple and therefore worthy of the utmost care and respect. Perhaps you have also heard the expression that the body doesn’t lie. It can be covered and disguised but all of our experiences and the accompanying emotions and sensations leave their imprint. The body needs constant nourishment, stimulation and rest. Nourishment includes food, water and oxygen. Breathing is even more basic than food or water. We can live longer without food than without water and only for a very small increment of time without breath. One of the most significant values of physical exercise is the increase in oxygen to our blood. Any system for creating or maintaining a positive lifestyle includes some form of exercise or enjoyable physical activity.
Another benefit of physical activity is the impact that it has on our overall emotional and mental state. When you engage in certain forms of vigorous physical activity such as cycling, swimming or running the pituitary gland releases endorphins which can block sensations of pain and produce feelings of euphoria. Similarly, our overall mental and emotional state has an impact on our physical wellbeing because the body reacts to our thoughts. An abundance of mental and emotional negativity and duress contributes to physical illness while positive mental outlook with accompanying emotional satisfaction contributes to physical health and healing. There has been significant research in the field of holistic health to support the impact of mental and emotional factors on healing from major illnesses. Meditation, a powerful tool for quieting the mind as well as balancing our energies, has also been known to have a positive effect on physical health and healing.
In my practice of psychotherapy, I utilize a whole person approach to help people deal effectively with life changes, whether they are trying to reestablish themselves in some aspect of their life or just redefining their life in a way that may provide new meaning. I encourage them to also look inside themselves for the wisdom and creativity to undertake whatever is important and meaningful personally or professionally. This approach can lighten the emotional impact of change by turning fear into acceptance and excitement.
Revised from an article printed in the North Port Sun Herald in March 2005