The Connection between mind, body and spirit: How one benefits the other…
They say that good things come in threes, that ‘three is a magic number’ and that there is even a rule of three, but perhaps one of the most rapidly rising trios we have in our society is mind, body and soul, or mind, body and spirit, whichever you prefer. Yet despite the rapid rise of this phrase, many of us are failing to grasp the deeper meaning and connection within it.
For most of us, it is not immediately obvious or at least not at the forefront of our minds, that body, mind and soul directly and largely affect one another. The connection between body and mind, in particular, is strong and more well documented than any connection with soul. Perhaps the most accepted version of this connection is the belief that mental things like stress can cause physical harm in the body. This has been proven in ways over the years, through science and I’m sure for some, through experience.
Once we have accepted that this connection exists (and let’s just stick to the body and mind for now) the first thing to note is that it is a two-way connection. (3 on the whole) The mind can affect the body and the body can affect the mind. We can see an example of this in our breathing. A large majority of us actually breathe incorrectly and in doing so, damage ourselves. To read more about ‘bad breathing’ check out my post on how to breathe healthily, but the basic gist of it is that a lot of us breathe vertically, meaning that we tense and lift up our shoulders with every breath we take. This is actually unnatural and triggers stress in our brains.
Tense shoulders is a physical symptom everyone of us would associate with stress and guess what, so do our brains. Years of tensing our shoulders when we are mentally stressed means that tensing our shoulders, god knows how many times a day, can contribute to a permanent state of stress. A state that we perhaps don’t even notice as it is so familiar and comfortable to us, but a physical action we are taking with our body is affecting our mind and mental state, negatively in this instance.
More evidence of the effect the body can have on the mind can be found in exercise. Going for a run can be a great boost to our mental health, especially when done regularly. Running can be refreshing and grounding for our minds, as we exercise we tend to naturally focus and get out of our own heads, allowing our minds some time to clear. This helps to bring us into the present moment and even let go of some of our worries. For me personally, I always find I return from a run feeling mentally light and fresh. This is one of the reasons that exercise is so great, it’s good for both body and mind.
Food is another thing that can be good for both, as a healthy body contributes to the upkeep of a healthy mind. If we are eating well then we will feel good physically, naturally giving us a little mental boost. We will also find that if we eat and drink well, our energy levels will be higher and last longer. This has a huge influence on our mental well-being, as low energy and lethargy can be very detrimental to our minds and play a big role in mental illnesses like depression. The difference made to our mental health just from feeling energised is truly amazing, and it can be achieved by very simple means that are well within our control.
Let’s flip it back to mind → body and use lethargy as an example again. Often the energy we have on any given day can be affected not just by food or rest but by our mood or mindset as well. I don’t think I’ve ever found that on a day when I mentally can’t be bothered, that my body is well up for the task and full of energy. No, when I mentally can’t be bothered, my body can’t be bothered either and it feels heavy and slow.
Flip that the other way around and we have another example. If our bodies are physically tired but we get a mental boost from somewhere, we can become surprisingly energised. Our seemingly tired bones spring into life and feel rejuvenated. Whether it’s some good news received, a nice interaction with someone or just some fresh air and a change of scenery, when our minds are boosted, so are our bodies.
I have experienced all of these examples mentioned above and they are by far enough proof for me, of the connection between my mind and my body, though we are still missing ⅓ of the trio.
The soul or spirit connection can be a little harder to define depending on how you think of it. A soul is certainly less tested scientifically and there is no proof of its existence, but I like to think of this part of the trio as simply being our feelings and emotions. Happiness and joy, sadness and despair, fullness or emptiness. Something which does have significant scientific backing. These feelings and emotions can, of course, influence or be influenced by both body and mind, therefore completing our triangle. I don’t think I need to go through how mental stimulation can make us feel joy, or how physical contact can incite love. We all know these connections and we know that they go both ways. Feeling joyful can flood from ‘soul’ to mind, from mind to body and from body to spirit. The human trinity is complete, connected and flowing in all directions, each and every one of the three can affect the other and it is important for our health, our true human health, that we recognise and appreciate this relationship.
There is one final thing that I think is important to mention. There is a reason that mind always comes first in the phrase. Mind is, at least in my opinion, the most important and most powerful of the three, and if wielded properly has a greater power of influence over the other two, as well as the power to ignore or override the influence of those other two, though that can be unnatural and unhealthy at times. If we are in control of our minds then we can take a healthy control over our bodies and feelings, which is not a complete control but an understanding of when something is a genuine feeling that needs to be felt or false feeling created by the mind itself. To read more about that check out my article on embracing ‘bad’ emotion.
So there we have it, our human trio of health. Mind, body and spirit, or let’s say emotion. To neglect one is to neglect them all and to care for one is to care for the others. If we leave one of the three in bad shape it will drag the other two down and we will never feel wholly healthy, I encourage us all to take care of mind, body and soul.
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