The Body-Spirit Overlap
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a French philosopher, paleontologist, geologist and priest said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." In order to have our human experience, we spiritual beings need a physical body. In the previous blog, “The Science of Meditation”, the overlap of the mind and the spirit working together to help with the healing process is mentioned. Similarly, overlap also occurs between our physical body and the spirit. All three: the mind, the body, and the spirit work together to contribute to our health through achieving awareness of the overlap of chi (energy), the sub-conscious, and emotions.
While our mind and body are tangible, our spirit is a bit different in an ethereal way, but our awareness of it is just as important for our well being. It's our energy that flows through us (and around us). It’s who we are. It’s us, our essence, our life force, our chi, our qi, our prana. It’s that glow about us, that light in our eyes. In order to stay healthy and facilitate healing, it helps to keep our energy flowing freely. In Eastern medicine, some illnesses are referred to as a stagnation of energy or energy blockages. Similar to a pool of stagnant water, when our energy pools up in or around our body, it can lead to situations where illness and pain develop and fester. These situations can have different kinds of roots, but the energy component is there. Perhaps you’ve felt throbbing pain when you’ve gotten hurt or had a headache. That throbbing is your energy pooling up in that area. We’ll often take pain killers to block the pain receptors in the brain until the pain "goes away". However, that energy can also be moved. Sometimes, we’ll say things like, “shake it off” or “walk it off” to talk about moving pain along. This energy can also be moved with energy healing work, and when it moves, the throbbing and pain will feel better naturally. There are habits we can practice to keep our body and spirit healthy and flowing:
Movements like exercising, dancing, yoga and other kinds of moving meditations, like qi-gong, keep our energy flowing. People who exercise regularly know how good they feel after a workout. Those endorphins give us a boost and the exercise also revs up our energy flow. People who practice yoga and qi-gong also get a glow, as the poses and movements are designed to open our body’s energy channels and dynamically move our energy through the body with intention.
Breathing is a bodily connection to the energy around us. It may sound simple, but take time each day to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. As you do, be aware of how your body feels. Does it feel light and loose? Does it feel tight or restricted in certain places? Take a moment and breathe into those places. Gently push your breath and energy into them and through them. Do it until you feel looser.
Keeping our body healthy to promote the energy flow and movement is another factor. Our body, blood and many of our organs are mostly water, so staying hydrated is important to help our energy flow. Similarly, eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables is key, as is limiting unhealthy foods like salt, sugar and chemicals, which cause inflammation and impede flow.
Another piece of the equation is sleep and rest. We need to give our body time to recover, heal, process and grow stronger. Just as our body needs rest, our spirit / energy does too, and as we rest, the overlapping connection between the body and the spirit strengthen.
Along that thought of strengthening the body-spirit overlap, if movement, breathing, fuel and rest are physical ways to help our body and energy flow, the adage of “laughter is the best medicine” certainly lightens the spirit and subsequently helps our body to be more open and free-flowing. So when you’re not feeling great or are injured, tell jokes and ask your friends to send you funny memes. They’ll put a smile on your face, help keep the spirit and body healthy, and speed along the healing process.