From a purely western understanding the mind body concept could be best related to the spirituality of a person. Not to be confused with a person’s religion but their individual spirituality is the confluence of one’s conscious mind and their bodies communication with it. Somewhat like the mix of tangible being and thought.
It is known that most all of the parts of the body can communicate in some form with the brain or control center of physicality. Where many people naively believe that their brain is the master of all and everything the most practiced grounded people in thousands of years of societies and cultures have found that allowing the mind to assume and maintain this master of all perspective is not only detrimental to clear thinking but also the balance of good physical and mental health.
For example consider this quote from the Chopra Center:
Each day at the Chopra Center, we see guests who reinforce our view that our thoughts and choices and experiences influence our tendency to be healthy or become ill. A man in a toxic work environment has incapacitating headaches that don’t respond to multiple medications. A woman decides she will no longer accept her boyfriend’s demeaning behavior, and her debilitating panic attacks “mysteriously” subside.
Consider mind body this way creating a state of being where our thought and our molecules are in harmony and communicating their needs and feedback helps us shift from an state of imbalance to one of being in harmony.
One simple example that is known even in western medicine is that our digestive activity is one of the biggest consumers of our bodies energy. Therefore, if you eat a lot of food before going to bed the body directs most all of its resting energy toward accomplishing digestion. While at first this may seem like a good use of your energy consider this. While you rest is a time for your body to work at healing whatever needs it has. If all of the energy is being directed at digestion how much energy is being spared for white blood cell production where you have an injury or a disease. How much oxygen rich blood is being delivered to your inflamed tendons around your tennis elbow. Right, not nearly enough so not only do you risk getting fat from processing an influx of calories when you’re consuming the least amount of calories through activity but you are depriving your body of its prime recuperation time.
So from this perspective your bodies needs are disseminated through its personal communication system, nerves and molecules etc. If your mind is always turned up to volume 11 and never stops chattering do you think your organs and the rest of your physical body are efficiently communicating their needs for energy, oxygen and fuel? This is where awareness comes into play. If you are in tune and aware of both the thoughts your mind keeps cycling through and the needs of your body you will more likely be in a balanced or harmonious state.
In the zen world you constantly work on your awareness by meditating. The simple objective of meditation is to stop the mind. At first you may say stopping the mind sounds like a horrible idea. As we consider this further I hope you come to understand that it is not. The idea of stopping your mind is that you want to stop the endless, if allowed to be, inner dialogue that the mind cycles through with worries, desires and feelings. Now you are likely saying “Why would I want to stop that, isn’t that essentially what being is?”. My answer to this is yes it is but is it necessary to process those thoughts in an endless loop like a computer processor? No it is not, all of your thoughts are relevant and deserve airtime in that wonderful glob of gray matter but they don’t need to be in it for 24 hours of the day repeating and working up the nervous system and any other organs or elements of our being that will listen and react to them.
Consider this relatively simple example you have an exam this coming Friday, today is Monday, that will determine your final grade in psychology. You could stress and dwell over this exam for almost 24/7 up until the time you take it. Even when you’re eating your mind is screaming OMG I better do good on this exam or I’ll never graduate and get a job and pay for my outrageous tuition. What do you think that does to your nervous system. Do you think your muscles are tense or relaxed? Do you think your stomach is relaxed and creating just the chemicals you need to digest your food or it feels stressed and is creating everything with a frantic energy like you’re being chased by a tiger and this food better get digested yesterday?
Think that example is unrealistic? Well you’re wrong, our western medicine confirms that worried state’s create a different chemical conditions in many facets of our bodies.Even mental health concerns like depression or even physical ailments like high blood pressure are often linked to a state of personal imbalance. In a nutshell western medicine has been known to be very good at treating/alleviating symptoms. Eastern medicine on the other hand has been known to work towards resolving the state of imbalance that is occurring within the patient to cause the symptoms. If you think that taking the time to control your inner dialogue and thought process won’t do anything to better your life then everything I’ve been saying here has fallen on deaf ears and you’re likely a better person than most in your own mind.
So in closing the main thing I’d like you to take from this article is that you can have some control over your thought process. Your mind is a wonderful thing use it wisely or it may just use you up.
Becoming aware of your thoughts and giving them airtime when you need to think about them is smart. Letting your thoughts run amuck is a dangerous way to live and unfortunately one that many people think is not just natural but the only way to be. There are thousands of different ways one can tune their awareness. In fact societies and cultures for hundreds of thousands of years have found ways to achieve this and they are not all the same. Zen Buddhism, Meditation, Talk Therapy, Vision Quests and Yoga are a few examples.