8.7.23 Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul
In the American culture, we are mostly defined by our minds, how we should think, what goals we want to set, how we are going to accomplish those goals, and more from our minds without even acknowledging the other parts of our being—our body, heart and soul. Many of us, I know, take care of our bodies in the physical way, exercising and trying to eat well, but we ignore all the wisdom that our very sensitive bodies can offer up to us, if we will pay attention to the signals they are sending. The same is true of our hearts. We can feel emotions, but at the same time ignore the caring, the loving aspects of our lives, being mainly focused on ourselves and not on the other person. And certainly, our souls/our spirits are mostly ignored as if they have no business being in our lives at all. So, we live mostly in our minds and ignore the totality of who we are.
As to the physical body, we only look at health issues as if that is all that the body can tell us about ourselves. Beyond health, our bodies can highlight other issues. For instance, each physical sensation that comes up in our bodies can highlight an issue in our lives that we are ignoring. Say, for example, your foot starts hurting, you could ask yourself if the ground you are standing on—your beliefs—are working for you now or what issue might be the problem for you. If you knee starts to act up, you might ask how flexible you need to be in what is happening to you now. Just thinking of the purpose of the part of the body that is experiencing something different can teach us a lot about what is happening in our lives today.
After all our body is the place where everything in our lives impacts us. In addition, we pick up the nuances of others’ behaviors, the sense that they are telling the truth or not, or are anxious, or not engaged with us. These subtle clues help us to evaluate the truth, the character of each person we meet.
With the heart, we need to remember that the heart is more than the beating mechanism that sends blood out to every part of our body. It is also the emotional center of our lives. Our heart is the center of love and emotions and caring for ourselves and others. It is the place where our passions lie, too. If we are not paying attention to our hearts, we might be living in a way that really does not serve us, but which echoes what the culture is trying to get us to do. We might be ignoring important ways of being in this world through art or music or physicality or spirit that would fulfill us so much more that the mind-centered work of the culture. The heart also reminds us of unexpressed pain and suffering and grief that, if we paid attention to it and expressed it through remembering and tears, would free us from the past and allow us to live in the present.
As we Americans mostly live in our minds, we forget that we are created to continue to learn and to grow in learning throughout our lives. If we resist any changes in the way we think, we are captive of the parental and cultural conditioning of our childhoods, unable to change in ways that we could grow into throughout our lives until the day we die. And what wonder and growth, joy and peace we miss out on if we don’t adapt and change.
And then there is our soul and spirit which can deepen our lives beyond anything we can conceive of. For they add a dimension to our lives that is truly unlimited, and mostly unacknowledged. But to acknowledge the spiritual component of our lives is to grow even more into the person we could become. To be aware of all creation and the wonder of it all, to acknowledge the marvel of this world that we live in, the whole universe and everything in it that is so inspiring and incredibly beautiful. In addition, if we take in the love and caring of God that produced this interdependent earth that we thrive on plus the whole universe, as well as all His support and guidance, we acknowledge the role that the Creator continues to play in our lives. And this is the backdrop, but also the reality, the truth of our lives.
Questions to ponder over the week: What parts of myself do I live out of and which one(s) do I ignore? What would it take to for me to embrace all of who I am? What teachings of the culture would I have to stop expressing in order to be fully who I was created to be?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who express all of who we are in our lives. May we be truth to the deeper parts of ourselves and cease our enslavement to this culture.
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