Connecting mind and body

A day of practice

Today was a much needed day of practice for me. My many practices included: multiple meditation sessions, a yoga class (taught by the wonderful Louann Harlow at the North Boulder Rec Center), a pranayama breathing session, and a Way of Shambhala class. Oh, and I read some dharma for inspiration in between.

The common thread

I didn’t realize until I got home that the common thread to all of today’s practices was connecting mind and body. This can be done in many ways: through focusing the mind on the breath, mindfulness practice, and recognizing how emotions feel in the body, just to name a few. The more I study, the more I see that there are myriad ways to accomplish this.

René Descartes, father of modern philosophy

René Descartes, father of modern philosophy

Dualism, the quick version

For centuries Western Society has separated our minds from our bodies and represented them as warring factions within ourselves. The first example that comes to mind is the Tripartite Theory of the Soul posed by Plato in The Republic (c. 380 BCE). The soul is described as having three parts arranged in a very clear hierarchy. The Appetitive aspect is our base desires, our Spirited aspect is the higher emotions such as honor and valor, and our Rational aspect is our love of truth (from which all philosophy is born). The Appetitive is ruled over by the Spirited and Rational aspects, and the Spirited aspect is ruled over by the Rational aspect. So here we have mind over emotions over body. The second example that springs to mind (no doubt influenced by the first) comes from Western Society’s largest religion, Christianity, where the body is seen as unclean and temporal in contrast to the soul, which is pure and eternal. Next we have Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, who in his Discourse on Method (1637) proved the existence of the self with his pronouncement, “I think, therefore I am.” Here man is defined as a thinking being and the body is left completely in the dust.

The difficulty in accomplishing holism

With over 2000 years of training in this dualism, it’s no wonder we have such a damn hard time trying to bring ourselves back together into ONE WHOLE.

My suspicion is that these people were not doing yoga, and the meditations they were doing were not in an effort to still the mind, but rather to keep its gears turning as if it were someperpetual motion machine.

Break out of the trend

Don’t leave your body in the dust of your racing mind. Remember, you have to live in it. Instead, try to slow down those turning gears in an effort to glimpse the stillness in yourself –if only for a moment–and bring some awareness to your body. You’ll feel a WHOLE lot better for it.