Mind, body and spirit… What?

Mind body and spirit. Mind body and soul. These words have become catch phrases. There are innumerable eastern inspired and/or “alternative” websites dedicated to the ideas; the American Cancer Society, the Teachers College at Columbia University, Harvard Medical School (just to name a few of the increasing number of Western mainstream establishments now promoting their own special interpretations) give much advise on living a “balanced” life. Yet, many simply use catch phrases (“balance”, “alternative…”, “quality time”, “ground yourself”, “meditate”…) to describe the catch phrase (mind, body and spirit/soul). Everything sounds very inspirational, but (in layman terms) how do we “balance” our physical, mental and spiritual lives?

First, forget the word “balance”. You actually want to harmonize (not “balance”) your our physical, mental and spiritual entities. Unfortunately, the word “balance” has become a common catch phrase due to a misinterpretation of eastern philosophy (in which the word for “harmony” was misinterpreted to mean “balance”). Balance is a state of equal distribution. Who wants the stress of maintaining a state of equal distribution to attain & maintain physical, mental & spiritual health? Our bodies, minds and souls don’t want more stress; they want harmony.

Our body, mind and soul are interconnected & therefore the health of one affects the health/harmony of the other two. Harmonizing each individually (and thus as a collective) is the key to optimal health, well-being, joy, and (desirable) love in our lives. Try to exercise/strengthen your body, your mind and your spirit everyday. I know that might seem a bit overwhelming at first… Just try!

Like any new exercise/health routine, it is best to try to slowly incorporate Body, Mind and Soul harmonizing techniques into your daily routine. Start with what comes naturally to you (or what you are most drawn to), then layer on additional practices. In time, the better you feel, the happier you are, the more you love life… the more motivated you will become to try/incorporate more techniques.

Here are a few I have found to have a great impact on my health, happiness and ability to appreciate love in and around me – and (even more importantly) to gracefully handle their opposites!

  • Exercise
    • Move, Stretch & Strengthen your body
    • Move your circulatory system (strengthen your heart)
      • Using “cardio” exercises – sweat
    • Move your lymph system (clean your blood/heart from impurities and strengthen your immune system)
      • Walking is the best way to move your lymph
    • move your energy systems (chi/qi/chakras – harmonize body, mind and spirit)every day
      • if you don’t like the idea of practicing kundalini yoga, tai chi, or, Qigong… you can always try Taoist or tantric sex and/or masturbation – they are actually the best for opening chakras and moving chi
  • Eat
    • Not just “100% Organic” (chemically free), but “Whole” (unprocessed) foods.
      • There are many “organic” foods that are refined (processed) that are simply not healthy
        • Learn the difference before you waste your money
    • The largest part of everyone’s diet should be a colorful array (yet the majority green) of low starch vegetables
      • If you eat raw vegetables – make sure you soak for 10 minutes in a hydrogen peroxide & water bath to kill the parasites
        • Most people don’t think about the parasites in raw foods (they exist in large numbers in ALL raw foods & are the cause of many digestive discomforts).
      • If you eat raw foods that you are not 100% sure were prepared properly – have a daily dose of ginger (raw, tea, pickled…) – the ginger will help kill parasites
  • Drink water that does not have added chemicals (since many tap waters do – if you drink tap and don’t know exactly what’s been added to your tap water – use a filter)
    • Also use a filter on your shower heads, chemicals in water are absorbed through the our skin (an organ in it’s own right) and can cause other health problems
  • Get plenty of sleep (children need 8-12 hours; adults, 6-8)
  • Get outdoors more – “ground yourself” in nature
    • We are animals first & just like animals taken out of nature (put into an artificial environment), we suffering physically and mentally if we are indoors too much of our day. Suffering physically and mentally will lead to a weakened spirit (loss of joy).
  • Be happy
      • Practice optimism (not fool heartedness, just optimism)
      • Be positive (don’t lie, tell people the truth, simply do it in a positive/constructive way)
  • Be grateful
    • If you pray for nothing else… say a prayer (or simply some words, if the word “prayer” makes you feel uncomfortable) of what you are thankful for – every day.
      • Only once a year, on the third Thursday of November – is not enough!
    • Western science has now proven that the health (harmonizing) benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless
  • Spend more quality time with loved ones
    • What is “quality time”?
      • It is time in which you pay thoughtful attention to loved one(s).
        • It is not (for example) watching a movie together
  • Live your passion
    • If it is a passion shared with your loved ones – even better
      • If not, to be true to who you are (how you define and love your own self), you must find time to cultivate your individual passion.
        • Schedule in “quality time with self”
  • Meditate
    • There are many forms to choose from: you can practice meditation (obviously), prayer, yoga, mindful breathing, tai chi, qigong, Daoist sex, journal/blog writing, any peaceful activity in nature (such as walking, a slow jog, gardening, sailing, biking…) – remember peaceful not competitive forms (leave those for physical exercise).
  • Sacrifice
    • Practice sacrifice, compassion and empathy for at least one other person everyday (and always for yourself)
    • For example: give time to a local charity, or, simply give a pregnant woman your seat on a crowded bus/train/subway…
      • No matter how big or small the effort – make sure the gesture is sincere/comes from your heart

Last, but most importantly, DO NOT STRESS, if you are unable to do something everyday. The trick is to SIMPLY TRY YOUR BEST everyday. Be kind to yourself. Practice will make progress.

Again this is only a short overview of body, mind, and spirit practices that have helped me maintain harmony in my life — even through the most trying of times. I hope they inspire & bring health, harmony and happiness to you. Remember, all parts of us are one in the same. Be loving to one part of yourself, and in time you (and others) will love all of you even more!

Love is a Tide!

I could say if one does this, or, one does that… life, love, your physical health, your mental health and your spiritual well-being will always be what you desire them to be – healthy, happy and positive – but they won’t. I adore inspirational quotes and stories just as much as anyone, but we must remember they are only half of our life (and love) stories. Finding the love and way of being we want, actually lies not so much in learning how to recognize and appreciate the high moments – it is in fact learning how to gracefully handle life’s lowest moments.

The t(d)aoist symbol:

YinYang

which many recognize today as “yin & yang” symbolizes an ancient philosophy “the way”. It teaches that everything (every moment) in a healthy life ebbs and flows – like a tide. First the tide comes in then it goes out. Opposites. First there is day then there is night – then there is day…. Rotation. First there is joy then there is sadness then there is joy then there is sadness…. Constant (movement). In summary: All of life is a constant rotation of opposites (positives and negatives). By excepting this, one does not feel the pressure of feeling guilty when their life is not “perfect”. No one is perfect. Remembering this simple fact makes loving yourself and others so much easier!

The same eastern lifestyle philosophy believes that the lows in life are actually necessary learning tools. Lows help us develop knowledge and wisdom to later attain ever greater highs – such as in love. Remember: the lows are necessary. Although it can be hard at first, view them as learning opportunities. This mental attitude is the first step in turning a low point into your next high.

I am sure at least one person reading this post (that is now going through and/or has gone through an extended or extreme low point in their lives – physically, mentally, in love and/or spiritually) is probably thinking, “Yeah, yeah, what do you know of my suffering?” To that thought I will simply say, “I assure you, I can empathize”.

The small white dot in the sea of darkness (as seen in the ying & yang symbol above) is the first sign that the tide is changing. Learn to be able to see those positive opportunities (those rays of hope) when things are not going well. Don’t get stuck or dwell in ill health, mental anguish, a destructive relationship pattern or loss of faith in the world. As long as you continue to move forward you will find your good health, your love and your happiness again. Don’t get stuck in negative patterns!

Accept the fact that everyday is not going to be blissful. Forgive yourself when you feel that you haven’t lived up to your, your partner’s, or society’s ideal. Be thankful for what you learn when times are tough. With a mental attitude like that you will find you are healthier physically, happier and find it easier to love yourself (and others) more. Learn life and loves lessons, but try not to lose your harmony or grace, this will make even your darkest moments seem light.

You Don’t Want Balance in your Life – You Want Harmony!

When you read English translations of ancient eastern philosophy, it is unfortunate that the word “balance” is used often – instead of the intended word – “harmony”. This has lead to the use of the word “balance” oft in western “New Age” vernacular…. Which has made it harder for western people to understand and follow the ancient lifestyle philosophies.

You don’t want “balance” in your life! Balance is a stagnant stationary point – extraordinarily hard to maintain. It is tension. In an instance, if one is not absolutely vigilant, balance will become instability, inequality, non-composure – differences. That is a stressful way to live. Who wants a life like that?

The harmony spoken about in ancient eastern philosophies is akin to musical harmony: the art of the combination of differences, into something agreeable or desired. It is not a stagnant point. It flows between while simultaneously incorporating (experiencing) the highs and lows of your life. The highs and lows are actually essential to joy you experience from a harmonious life.

There is tension in all lifestyles. Tension & stress are necessary at times. However, where as tension/stress is a constant state needed to achieve balance. Harmony is a state of constant flow; in which tension, (anger, grief… all the low notes life throws at us) are simply moments in your journey. Instead of falling off the balance beam (falling off the wagon, binge-eating, shopping-till-you-drop, having a string of illicit affairs… whatever your tension/stress response is) life simply goes on (it actually goes up). When you have mastered harmony, you have learned how not to get stuck and dwell in the mire – how not to become unbalanced. You have learned how to pick yourself up and naturally reconnect with all of life’s natural highs.

TenceBalance3

Balance is tense; harmony, flows.

HarmonicFlow