The Health of Our Mind, Body and Spirit

yoga stretch

yoga stretch

THE HEALTH OF OUR MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT

By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

Our minds chatter constantly, demanding attention.  Then we become lost in thought and life passes us by.  Our minds tell us that we have an impossible amount of things to do, then say hurry up, you’re way behind.  While taking care of one task, our minds recite long lists of what else to do.  Then the mind accuses us of not concentrating, and doing things wrong.  We are called names by our own mind that we wouldn’t accept from anyone else.  Minds like to obsess on problems.  They even fabricate them in our rare moments of contentment.  Then they give us solutions that create more problems than the original circumstances.  If we confront our minds for not doing a better job, suddenly the mind is no longer an expert, and becomes muddled and confused.

Our bodies give us cravings to eat or drink when we are not hungry or thirsty.  Bodies can tell us that we need sex in the most inappropriate situations.  They can be too anxious to sleep, or too exhausted to get out of bed, or vice versa.  Energy in our bodies is commonly excessive or depleted.  We are often tense with aches in our head, neck, shoulders or back.  Our bodies are easily addicted to sugar, salt, caffeine, fats, nicotine, alcohol, other drugs and medications.  Then we contract diseases as a result of these addictions.  Our bodies want to take elevators, escalators, and park as close as possible to where we’re going.  Then they want exercise, so we go to the gym to walk or run on a treadmill or stairmaster.

Our spirits often feel broken or lost.  We give up Heavenly dreams in deference to the defeatist list of endless duties to perform.  We allow empty rituals and short order prayers to replace real communion with God.  Fear of celestial retaliation can get us to church but not make us behave well outside of church.  It’s too hard to hang on to awe and wonder in the face of hatred and violence.  It’s too difficult to maintain excitement and joy in the depths of abandonment and depression.  Fear builds a fortress that shuts out serenity.  We feel hollow and fill ourselves up with superficial matters, compulsions and addictions.  We hide from our spirit, then forget that we have one.

We have symptoms, from physical problems, mental duress, depression, anxiety, or spiritual confusion.  We take pills for our symptoms and create more symptoms.  There is never enough time, because we’re not in the moment to experience its’ fullness.  Love is often lost to lust, selfishness, empty habits, fear, resentment or obligation.  We were created whole, yet we chronically feel incomplete.  We opt for quick fixes that sabotage lasting fulfillment.  We are slaves to sensory gratification and cultural indoctrination, at the cost of our health.

These are fundamental problems.  They are intertwined with all of the aspects of ourselves, and how we perceive our environment.  The health of our mind, body and spirit determines the quality of how we live and love, which affects everything around us.  We were created to be self-healing, evolving organisms with a mission of sacred stewardship to life on this planet.  If we wish to recapture this rich heritage, we must nourish our original roots.

A healthy mind includes higher consciousness.  It is a balance of right and left brain hemispheric information.  Deep reflection, present moment focus, intuition, and imagination are just as important as analysis, logic, reason and habit.  A healthy mind understands the importance of compassion, patience, sensitivity, respect, kindness, honesty, responsibility, generosity, humility, integrity and serenity.  A healthy mind discards unhelpful old ideas, and welcomes not knowing, because only in that space can something new emerge.

Healthy physical caretaking nourishes a strong desire to live, thrive and enjoy optimal health.  We understand and appreciate how our body works and all that it does for us.  We use low abdominal breathing to fully oxygenate our body and develop healing reserves of energy.  We learn to sense where energy is depleted, excessive or blocked, and correct these imbalances.  We eat fresh, natural foods free of chemicals and undue processing.  We alternate activity and physical exercise with relaxation and sleep.  We spend time outdoors observing natural beauty.  We experience a positive unity and interdependence with the elements, plants, animals, humans and the divine.

A healthy spirit maintains a conscious, active relationship with Heaven.  We pray and meditate daily, to embrace a larger mystery.  We surrender arrogant small-minded willfulness and the fear that creates it, in favor of divine partnership and faith.  We listen for the subtle, softer messages from spirit, and the signs that are given to us throughout the day.  We know that this guidance honors our free will, and is loving, mysterious, magical, humorous and insightful.  We gratefully acknowledge that we are children of the universe, with a purpose that is far greater than what we consciously realize.

Paying Attention to Each Present Moment – the Attitude of Gratitude

Car on Drugs

Our Presence is Required

OUR PRESENCE IS REQUIRED

By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

Trauma and addiction teach us defensiveness, despair, distraction, fear, neediness and offensiveness.  Rather than paying attention to our current circumstances, we’re running away from or chasing after something to relieve pain.  Rather than noticing who we are in the moment, we are repeatedly seeking ways to artificially alter, numb or heighten who we see ourselves to be.

Abstaining from active addiction and living without current trauma does not stop the mental, emotional and physical habit patterns from the past.  We continue to carry fear and false beliefs and their corresponding defense mechanisms and character defects, into our current circumstances and future probabilities, until we heal.  In our struggles with problems and our quests for answers, our energy is often scattered.  Our minds can get very busy with possibilities, scenarios, fears and wishes.  Many times our minds multiply problems rather than solve them, or create solutions that are worse than the original problem.

Past physical violations and abuse commonly lead to psychological disconnection or disassociation with our bodies.  Symptoms from these defenses include presenting the body as an object to be used, neglect of the body, re-enactment of abuse, fear, shame and hatred of the body, and unhealthy measures to protect and obtain control over the body, the latter often seen in various eating disorders.

Mental and emotional trauma typically results in denial and repression of painful thoughts, feelings and memories.  This then leads to chronic feelings of confusion, anxiety, depression, fear and anger, as well as emotional constriction, rigid thinking and intellectualization.  Intuition, discernment and even common sense can be deficient, causing significant instability.

Understandably we don’t wish to feel pain, powerlessness and emptiness.  Yet, when we are living in safe, sane and sober conditions, resistance to these emotions prevents their resolution.  Paying attention to each present moment as it appears and disappears, and becoming more aware of the observer part of ourselves that doesn’t think or act, and is not attached to human willfulness, brings a spiritual perspective to learning and maturing.  Facing and processing emotions and experiences from the past, with healthy support people, and the goal of insight and healing, brings us positive energy. This enables us to increasingly release the energy from past trauma and addiction and find our true selves.

When we have conflict, we often perceive ourselves to be struggling with external forces.  Our blaming of others serves to reinforce negative energies inside of us.  If we are more psychologically evolved, we see how external struggles also reflect internal conflicts.  Internal strife without loving insight however, also reinforces negative energies.  If we are spiritually evolved, we understand that every conflict is an opportunity to learn something new and expand our understanding and active demonstration of spiritual principles.  When we cease resisting the lessons, stop disconnecting from ourselves, and when we exchange negative energies for compassionate inquiry and commitment to personal growth, we begin to realize the blessings within us.

Wounded Warriors

Sunset

Wounded Warriors

By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

SunsetAddicts enter recovery as wounded warriors with unhealed traumas and deprivations, and swords and shields that they hope will protect them from further suffering.  But the war is inside; between the defenses and dysfunction in the mind, and the heart pleading for mercy and grace, between the poisons in the body, and the spirit longing for peace and joy.

And the fear of letting go of all that we identify as ourselves and our lives is terrifying.  And the fear of facing all the wounds that we sustained and perpetrated, is overwhelming.  And the depth of the unknown truth, and absolute mystery of the next moment is incomprehensible.  And the experience of being helpless, exposed and vulnerable stimulates all past trauma and pain.

Yet recovery offers a warm welcome into a fellowship where we are safe and surrounded by a state of grace, much greater that the war and fear within us.  Everyone has value here and everyone has something to give.  We learn that hope arises from helping others and peace arises from practicing patience.  Healing is offered in exchange for swords.  Courage is offered in exchange for shields.  The pain of our defects and destructiveness now motivates us to serve the greater good in life.

We see how we are not separate from life but interwoven into the whole fabric of life.  Each moment holds magnificent possibilities of learning, of letting go, of growing, and of being.  We begin to feel our connection to the Source of pure goodness and mercy, and align our mind, heart, body and spirit to this truth.  The greater vision is not war, but compassionate cooperation.  The greater vision is not fear, but faith that we all can generously and joyfully contribute to the highest good for all of life.