We’ve all heard the trio of body mind spirit in regards to a myriad of things. From mindfulness apps, to yoga studios, to lactose-free milk ads… It has been a ubiquitous New Age concept for quite a while. Or maybe that isn’t universal, but I just think it is, having been a resident of New-Age-Central, San Francisco Bay Area, for decades, and then moving into the adjunct medical field of massage therapy.
What I’ve found over the years, is that most people nod to body mind spirit as a “thing” and recognize that the three need to be in some kind of balance or things go wonky. I have also found, over the years, that most people think of them as separate things. You’ve got body over here, mind over there, and spirit :waves hands around in the air.: You do get folks who cringe at the notion of spirit and equate it to the soul (and it is fine if you do), religion, and they get militantly secular. I get it, but before I move on, if you are getting that kind of cringe, I will ask if you’ve ever been “moved” by a sunset, a child’s laugh, an excellent cheeseburger? You could argue that’s “mind” and “emotions” and yes, I suppose so, but in my worldview those things are also an aspect of spirit.
Speaking of spirit, Taylor Swift’s latest album has a song called “Karma” and part of the lyrics are:
Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend
Karma’s a relaxing thought
Aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?
Sweet like honey, karma is a cat
Purring in my lap ’cause it loves me
Flexing like a goddamn acrobat
Me and karma vibe like that
Yup. I agree. Karma is a purring lap cat. (It isn’t just those things, nor is spirit simply how a good cheeseburger makes you appreciate life. But this is a short blog post, on Mental Health Monday, not a dissertation into the sublime, ffs. 🙂 )
Back to the idea that most people I’ve encountered — and due to my various guises and interests, that number on this topic is fairly, amazingly, large — do think about the three aspects as separate. You work on your body by exercise or good, nutritious food. You work on your mind by doing Wordle and being aware of emotions. You work on your spirit with meditation or that cheeseburger.
If that is your philosophical cosmology, that’s fine. My view, and it is my blog after all, is that the three are inherently linked and inseparable, and forgetting that, or being unaware of it, can cause wonkiness and imbalance, and imbalance leads to poor health, and there you hit a vicious cycle.
This is a concept that has been recently strongly whapping me in my face. I’ve been studying, and trying to adapt the suggestions, of how certain foods can act like drugs to help with things like PTSD, depression and anxiety. I’ve been working with meditation for pain reduction and mental clarity. Lately, in just the past couple of weeks, I had my first ultrasound guided cortizone injections into both of my knees. I live with severe, relentless, chronic pain due to two bone-on-bone osteoarthritis destroyed knees. They are so bad that the doctors who routinely see bad joints exclaim things like, “Ow. How do you even walk?” (That’s always a heartwarming thing to hear. “YIKES!” and “OMG!” … right?)
I am experiencing how the cortizone works on me, as it is a race to getting both legs sawn in half for metal knees. I’m grateful to report that it has worked so far. The doctor who gave the injections said, when I asked him how long they would last if they worked, “With knees like yours” (sigh) “Anywhere from a week to three months. Subsequent injects won’t be as effective. We’ll have other options.”
Living with chronic, debilitating pain every frikkin day. That’s a “body” thing right? We’ll fix it with “body” things. Well, yes and no. Certainly the cortizone shots are a body thing. But the pain, when it is here full force and when I get relief from it, absolutely affects my moods and emotions. I get brain fog. I get cranky. I get depressed. Or I get less so, as the pain lifts. Maybe. The jury is still out on that last one. If my body is out of whack, which leads to an out of whack mind/emotions, is it a far leap to suppose that my spiritual self is also out of whack?
Just stuff to think about. If I were to write a few books, I would leave with the thoughts that Ayurveda, the traditional (Asian) Indian medicine, is quite a bit about the balance of body mind and spirit. (Ayurveda probably was the parent of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but the Chinese would probably disagree with that.) And for the very last thought: Don’t believe body mind and spirit are linked? How about the concept of sex? (And how different forms of it, different contexts of it, in different relationships, can affect it all…)
And even though today isn’t Saturday, you can bet this was a stream of consciousness post, thanks to the inner prompt of: cortizone shots to the knees.
I’m cringing at the cortisone shots😵💫
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They were not pleasant. The “numbing” shot was the worst, of course. But it wasn’t TOO awful either. The ultrasound guidance probably helped it to be “do-able.” It isn’t high on my list of “oh goody!” items though. 🙂