Do you feel there is something wrong in your life but you are not sure what it is? Maybe it is time to take an objective inventory of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The “Journey to Joy” requires attention to the mind, body and spirit and none of these can be neglected as we travel on the highway of life. Visualize a strong plaited rope, three powerful strands woven together to create a line strong enough to tie a boat safely to its moorings. In the same way, the cord that attaches each of us to our inner strength is made up of powerfully connected aspects of body, mind and spirit. If any of these become out of balance the stability of our life is greatly affected. How can we tell if this is happening to us?
In this article, I will talk about signs that may indicate where we may be neglecting ourselves. Next month I will focus on tools that help to strengthen our awareness before it causes major problems.
Are you constantly feeling tired, getting sick with re-occurring complaints such as headaches, backaches, colds etc? This is a good indication that you may not be paying enough attention to your body and its health. Are you exercising daily, eating a healthy diet and taking enough time for rest? These can all affect how you feel physically
Your mind can also affect your body in powerful ways. When I talk about the mind, I am also talking about emotions because the messages we give ourselves in our mind are connected to powerful emotions or feelings. If we are raised to believe that any experience or expression of anger is wrong, that belief becomes wired within us. We will therefore, deny angry feelings and they will eventually drop down into our body where they will simmer and eventually erupt into physical symptoms. This can also happen with grief, guilt, happiness or any of the major feeling groups. Depression and anxiety are main indications that there is something wrong in the dialogue between mind and emotion. Sadly these wise symptoms of imbalance are usually medicated and avoided instead of worked with and listened to. If we pay attention to them and learn to dialogue with them, they can be an excellent source of understanding and change. If we continue to ignore them, they will result in problems in the body.
As a psychotherapist, I am very aware of how too much emphasis on the mind can cause as many problems as too little. Sometimes it becomes too easy to analyze and get caught up in our thinking and beliefs with the result that we ignore the messages of our heart. Our goal is to learn to use our thinking in service to our true, authentic feelings.
How do you know whether physical complaints are originating in the mind or with feelings? If you feel you are doing everything to nourish and care for your body, then it is a good idea to explore your emotions and beliefs.
Our spiritual beliefs or practice affect both the mind and the body. If we have no spiritual values, there is little meaning in life. If we have too much spiritual practice, we can be cut off from feelings and body. Marion Woodman, who is a Jungian Analyst specializing in women’s psychology and the mind/body/spirit connection defines soul as being “embodied spirit”. She suggests the importance of building a bodily container that is strong enough to contain spirit. This container consists of a physical body as well as an ego body. It is the combination of mind and body. For many people, the spiritual aspect is disembodied – it allows escape from the pain of the emotional and/or the physical. We have to remember that we are spiritual beings attempting to live in a physical body so we have to learn how to live within its constraints. If you are neglecting your spirit, you may feel a sense of hopelessness or meaningless in your life. You may see no beauty or happiness in anything you do. This indicates it is time to do things you enjoy, take time for yourself and begin to discover a world outside of the world you have created. If you are spending too much time in the world of spirit, it may be reflected in the outside world. Is your life, here and now where you want it to be or do you need to make it easier to live with?
As you can see, the relationship between body mind and spirit is very complicated and has to be frequently monitored as a whole, at the same time honoring all three aspects separately. We cannot make changes to one aspect, without it affecting the other two. Healing can take place by initiating change in any one area.
Do your own personal inventory today and join me next month to learn tools for understanding more about this complex connection.