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.

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.

Responses to Harm

Worried Face

RESPONSES TO HARM

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

Worried FaceWhen someone harms us or is hurtful in some way, we tend to absorb and retain these energies.  We often obsess about the experience and tell everyone we know, letting the story and its feelings grow.  Our response to harm may be self-righteous indignation, or chronic pain and suffering.  It may be retaliation.  Or it may stimulate our own feelings of low self worth or self hate.  We might invest time, thought and emotion in wondering why someone hurt us.  We can reflect on their possible thoughts, feelings, upbringing, goals and motivation.  We can spend copious amounts of time thinking of the ways they should change and mend the hurt that they cause.  Our communication, body language, and actions are often attempts to manipulate or punish, those whom we feel have hurt us.

Even when our own behavior is harmfully wrong, we tend to focus negative responses onto those who confront or impose unwanted consequences on us.  We thus add to our own unhealthy behaviors, the emotions of anger, bitterness and blame toward others.  We commonly become angry with our own body, or diseases that we contract through our unhealthy habits or neglect.

Ironically we believe that maintaining vigilant attention to the components of past negative experiences will alert us to prevent repeat episodes.  Conversely this is the very force that precipitates continuing problems.  These patterns of externalizing what is wrong, without taking responsibility for solutions, keeps us stuck in escalating negative patterns.  The amount of painful energy that we absorb from the original problem multiplies from our defensive and offensive reactions to it, and repeated recounting either in our minds or to others.  This is how the energy of harm expands, attracting similar experiences, preventing solutions, and blocking the flow of our own evolution.

We are all imperfect human beings with healthy and unhealthy traits.  We live on a planet where pristine paradise, natural disasters and constant change coexist.  And yet we court false beliefs dictating that we should have all that we desire for as long as we wish, and none of what we fear.  This denial of the duality and transformations of the earth and its inhabitants, puts us in constant conflict with life.  Attempts to capture, cling and control external circumstances are doomed to failure and misery. This focus causes us to forget what we have to give, and overlook the blessings that we do receive.  No matter how, when and where harm began, responses that increase our negative energy diminish, and if severe, preclude the possibilities of natural joy, hope and appreciation in the rest of our life.  The dark and light side of life are inextricably woven together.  Just as ignorance precedes knowledge and healing follows illness, shadows are necessary to allow us to more clearly see and appreciate the light.

Cultivating a mature adult relationship with ourselves means that we acknowledge the whole of who we are.  This entails honesty, deep understanding, responsibility for our well being, learning, growth and integrity.  It includes setting healthy boundaries between aspects of ourselves, other people or situations that are destructive.  It is wise to do this without anger or other negative emotions, because a mind full of complaints and criticisms isn’t capable of finding a solution.  We can refuse to participate in or add to any harm that visits us.  Our best response to harm or potential harm is to seek safety, assistance, healing, a better understanding of ourselves, and personal and spiritual growth.

Instead of focusing on who hurt us or why, we can identify the consequences of harm that we carry inside of us and in our interactions with life.  We can surrender all of the ways in which we are hurtful to ourselves and others.  We can shift our focus from harm to healing, from perpetrators to helpers, from past hurt to present safety, from victim to miracle, from anger to peace, from despair to grace.  And we can do this work with the emotions of compassion, curiosity, faith, gratitude and humility.  This puts us in the energy of the solution and in harmony with life, regardless of current conditions.  When we no longer feed the fire of negativity, we can rise from the flames of harm and allow our hearts to tell a whole new story.