Caring for the body is promoting mental healthby Gerald Lee Jordan
19 February 2021 11:56 (NZT)
Viewing the body as an instrument
I have been thinking about my relationship with my body. Like many (or most) people, I haven’t been happy just being with myself, but have spent most of my time with “busyness”. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t negative with myself. I didn’t think badly of myself, physically or otherwise. Rather, I imagine that I have treated my body as an “instrument” for use.
Ignoring your home
Rather than nurturing and cherishing this space which is my ultimate home, I pushed my body to perform through studies, with little sleep and in many ways ignoring its needs for gentle care. I have eaten terribly (chips, pizza, etc). Physical exercise has taken a back seat to study and many other things. I suppose I have just expected my body to keep going, regardless of how much I have ignored its needs.
Spending time understanding yourself
Enter meditation – when I sit, I am with myself. There is no one else there. I feel my breath, I notice my chest rising and falling hour after hour. I begin to realise the miracle of every moment, as my body takes care of me (body and "me" are the same). Actually, this distinction between body and mind, body and spirit or however you wish to frame it is one of the causes of our neglecting ourselves. Dichotomies are generally simplistic and have little value. It takes a larger consciousness to hold thoughts of things having many possible aspects, than it takes to imagine simple extremes of this versus that. Body versus mind. Body versus spirit. Body versus me.
What we take in becomes us
We are not separate from our bodies. Great thinkers have long understood this. The things which we use to sustain us become a part of who we are. When we fill ourselves with the suffering of others, can we really be surprised that we have heart disease, diabetes and a myriad of other ailments? We are creating our future, every moment we live.
Your body is your mental health
So, what is the point of a discussion of the body when considering mental health topics? There is no distinction between who you are physically and mentally – caring for your body is caring for your mind. Your mind is part of your body and you cannot have good mental health, while punishing your body. Looking for your next steps in mental health? Take care of your body. It IS your mental health.
Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️