Life is anything but a straight path. We wish it was. But most of the time, it contains twists and turns (and plenty of brambles). You get lost more often than you’d like and find out that the right road runs out too soon.
The thing is, you have the tools you need to navigate this crazy thing called life. Sometimes you’ll be riding high and sometimes you’re held together with Band-Aids and crossed fingers, but you have the tools for the job.
Getting through isn’t the problem. The bigger problem is knowing in yourself that you have what you need. For that, you need to know how to make your mind, body, and spirit work together.
Understanding the Relationship Between Mind and Body
The mind, body, and spirit are the oldest and perhaps most-argued part of our lives. All too often, our bodies become carriers for our minds, or we neglect our mental growth in favor of immediate goals, or neglect our spiritual growth even though we’re thriving elsewhere.
When these three things come into alignment, it’s that much easier to walk into a room like the boss. You won’t need to convince yourself that you can do this. You just know.
In many ways, our thoughts are just as powerful as our words. In fact, our minds have a measurable effect on our bodies.
Let’s say, for example, that you feel an emotion, like fear. Fear can be described abstractly, as an emotion, but it can also be described and measured as a tangible thing, through adrenaline hormones and a racing heart and tunnel vision.
Without the feeling, there is no hormone. Without the hormone, there is no feeling.
In addition, the way you think about the world has an appreciable effect on how you experience it. If you see the world negatively, your experience of the world will conform to that lens. For example, if you see yourself as less capable or awkward, you’ll find proof in your actions. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That said, the body has an equally significant impact on the way your mind works.
Think of it this way.
Your mind is based in your brain, which is a physical organ with cells in your skull. Your brain grows and changes based on what you feed it, how you care for it, how you use it, the ways in which you train your brain to respond to problems.
The brain is complex, but basically, in order to form thoughts and respond to problems, the brain relies on certain neural pathways. The more often you use a certain response, the stronger that neural pathway becomes. You’re literally hard-wiring your brain to behave a certain way.
This is part of neural plasticity, or the brain’s ability to respond to change. Children have the most neural plasticity, but this decreases as we age. However, with conscious training, you can literally rewire your brain, thus changing the way your mind solves problems.
The spirit is more nebulous than the mind and body. In fact, there have been centuries of philosophical debate about what the spirit entails (or, indeed, if there is any such thing as the spirit or soul).
We’re not here to do a deep dive into metaphysics or spiritual philosophy. We’re saying that there are ways that you can feel something like spirit, soul, or whatever your term of choice may be.
The easiest example is a sense of wholeness you feel after attending religious services that truly speak to you. This is deeper than emotion–you have a deep feeling of awareness.
You may also experience this if you have a work project where you get to do something deeply meaningful. That click in your head and your heart, where everything just makes sense and you have an electric sense of purpose, can be described as spiritual alignment.
Unfortunately, spiritual health is the least understood (and most often neglected) element of our triad.
The Importance of Balance
It doesn’t matter how much you exercise, how much you spend on therapy, or how much time you spend figuring out what you believe in. If you can’t find a way to bring these three elements together, you’ll struggle to feel fully balanced.
Your mind may be strong, but if your body is unwell, it can impact your mind’s ability to handle problems.
Your body may be healthy, but if your mind is struggling, your body will feel the effects. People struggling with depression, for example, have weakened immune responses, disrupted sleeping patterns, increased pain sensitivity, and constricted blood vessels.
And if your mind and body are healthy but your spiritual connection is lacking, you may well have success at your fingertips and still have a sense that something is missing.
How to Make Your Mind Body and Spirit Work Together
This is why you need to learn how to make your mind, body, and spirit work together.
Humans are truly remarkable animals. We are simultaneously fragile and astonishingly resilient. A seemingly minor injury could change the course of your life, yet we can also walk out of life-threatening situations unscathed.
The point is, we have the ability to be in tune with ourselves. All the tools are there. You just have to be willing to put in the work on all fronts.
Mind: Quiet Your Thoughts
Let’s start with the most accessible front: quieting your thoughts. Note that we said accessible, not easy.
The sheer volume of information that the modern human consumes in a day would have driven our ancestors insane. We listen to music while we work, conduct five Google searches in five minutes, and can access people anywhere in the world, anytime we want to.
The point is, this world moves fast. It’s easy to think that your mind also needs to move fast to keep up and that sleep is the only rest your mind needs. That’s where you’re wrong.
Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool for restoring mind and body balance. In meditation, your body experiences a state of restful awareness. Your heart rate slows, your brain quiets, and the mind lets go of old cycles of thought.
Many people struggle with meditation but know that there are many different meditation techniques to try. Some people need to sit still and focus on one thing. Others benefit from having something to focus on, like chanting meditation, to quiet down their mental background noise.
If nothing else, start by giving yourself just two minutes per day to sit at your desk and breathe. Your only job, for those two minutes, is to breathe in and out. Set a timer. If you need something to focus, count your breaths, “One in, one out, two in, two out,” etc.
Body: Exercise and Move Daily
It might seem basic, but daily exercise really does make a world of difference.
Regular exercise has long been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. It releases endorphins in the brain and increases blood flow, forcing you to pay attention to the physical task at hand rather than whatever you were worried about.
If you’re a total beginner, you don’t need to run a marathon. Just find one thing (or several things!) that you genuinely enjoy doing. Maybe you like running, maybe you love to dance, maybe you find your peace taking deep breaths and working your muscles in a yoga class.
Whatever it is, experiment. Try out different classes until you find something that you can motivate yourself to do regularly. If you’re new, try to work with a coach or trainer to learn good form.
And whatever you do, remember: you’re not doing this to lose weight or look like a fitness model. You’re doing this out of self-love.
Spirit: Do More of What Drives You
Spirit is a trickier one for many people, especially people who aren’t religious or spiritual.
One approach everyone can take is to spend more of your time doing what drives you.
We all have duties we need to complete and bills to pay. Part of growing up and being a person in the world is learning to deal with things you don’t like. We’re not saying you need to spend all your time blissed out and loving every minute in order to find spiritual balance.
Instead, try to carve out more time for things that matter to you. Maybe you volunteer at an animal shelter or helping disadvantaged people access housing and job resources.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to change the world. Maybe you love to paint. You don’t need to be a groundbreaking artist and you don’t need to use your art to generate money for charity–the act of doing what you love is enough.
If you’re not sure what drives you, it’s helpful to interrogate what matters. It will make it easier to find your direction.
Mind: Release Emotional Toxins
Humans are good at remembering things. Not just your childhood birthday or your favorite takeout. We’re good at holding onto residual emotions.
In fact, many of us harbor emotional toxicity, whether it’s old anger, sorrow, hurt, disappointment, or fear.
These unprocessed emotions can affect your life, even if you don’t realize it. Maybe you were hurt by a loved one a long time ago and now struggle to trust others. Maybe someone convinced you that you weren’t good enough and you never quite let go of that idea.
Sometimes it’s not even as deep as that. Sometimes it’s that you’re fed up and frustrated at your job and that bitterness spills over into your life.
If you want to find balance, you need to flush out those emotional toxins.
Start by asking yourself what you’re holding onto. If you don’t have an “Aha!” moment, think about what patterns of thought you cling to throughout the day. If you’re stuck in negative cycles, where are they coming from, and what can you do to address them?
Body: Nourish Your System
Many of us are told we need to eat healthier without really processing what that means.
In Western countries especially, eating healthy is qualified numerically. It’s caloric intake, nutrient values, serving sizes. It’s impersonal, even scientific.
But food is more than a task. It’s more than survival. Food brings us together. We build relationships with food–cooking a fancy meal to impress a date, putting the extra effort into a meal your spouse loves. We attach memories to food–the smell of a family member’s favorite meal.
On the one hand, you need to eat healthy from a nutrient perspective. You need to eat your greens, reach for less processed food, look for variety. But you also need to heal your relationship with food.
If you catch yourself thinking of food as a chore, reward, or, worse, a punishment, do some work as to why that is.
Spirit: Cultivate Loving Relationships
Finally, spend some time working to cultivate loving relationships.
Take your support network, for example. Your support network, whatever it may be, allows you to process stress and joy in equal measure. Your loved ones are there for you through highs and lows. Look for the people who care about you.
But also keep in mind that relationships are a two-way street. Spend some time interrogating how you can be a better partner, friend, or family member. Bring your loved ones in on this discussion–ask them how you can be there for them and how you can work to grow together.
Ready to Find Balance?
If you’re trying to figure out how to make your mind, body, and spirit work together, you’ve already taken an important first step. You know that your life could be better and you want to find out how.
Bringing your mind, body, and spirit into balance takes work. By investigating how, you’re preparing to commit to that work.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to bring yourself into alignment, check out our blog for more useful posts, like this post on the benefits of energy healing for your well being.