Your body is not “you”. Though in a way it is.
Your mind is not “you” and you are not your thoughts, but they are an integral part of you.
Your spirit is not all of who you are, though many spiritual systems believe it is the part that will remain even after you are gone.
While we can speak of these aspects of ourselves as separate things, they are more interconnected than we often realize. A mind without a body would be cold and lifeless. A body without a spirit would be mechanical and callous.
There is no one without all the others.
Any time we feel anxious thoughts or deep emotions, the connection of our mind to our body quickly becomes apparent. A headache during times of stress, or the way a memory can evoke physical sensations, these are examples of our minds’ influence on our body.
What we think and feel is often manifested in our physical experience of the world. Scientists have even done research to map out where in the body people feel specific emotions. (1) The link between our mind and body is so seamless as to be almost indistinguishable.
Our bodies allow us to turn our ideas, dreams, hopes and values into action. It is the vessel for all the other aspects of ourselves and is highly attuned to what is happening in the mind and spirit.
Using the phrase “butterflies in the stomach” is a perfect example of how in touch our bodies are with our emotions. In turn our physical experience can impact our emotions. Taking deep, soothing breaths when we feel anxious, or hugging a loved one during a difficult time are ways we use our bodies to influence our inner feelings.
This is often the aspect of ourselves that is most difficult to discern. It is natural to identify most easily with our body, which we can touch and see, and our mind, which makes itself known through a constant flow of thoughts and emotions.
Our spirit is more subtle, but no less integrated. Our ability to feel compassion, intimacy, love and meaning in life all rely on a spiritual connection.
Spirituality can be a support during difficult times, and is connected both to how we think about what we are experiencing and how our body responds. Research into the role of spirituality and chronic pain shows that patients who engage in spiritual practices have better management of their pain. (2)
What we believe and our connection with something greater than ourselves has a huge impact on all other parts of us.
Being a Whole Person
We have to treat both ourselves and others as whole people. This means honoring the mind, body, and spirit and using it to support overall wellness.
When we are healthy in mind, body and spirit we can live life to its fullest and experience the happiness and fulfillment that comes from a place of deep connection.