In Western culture, what is tangible and quantifiable frequently outweighs things that are elusive. However, many fields of study, such as psychology, neuroscience, nutrition, genomics, and so on have begun recognizing the connection of mind, body, and spirit. Conventional scientific studies are now beginning to explore ancient holistic medicine, such as meditation and yoga, to improve health and the body’s ability to heal itself. After all, enhancing your connection with mind, body, and spirit can lead to better health.
Mind, body, and spirit represent all levels of our human existence. The mind is our mental level, body being both the physical and emotional level, and Spirit being the spiritual level. This holistic approach has been scientifically documented as a successful approach with post-traumatic stress syndrome patients in countries subjected to war at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. After working holistically on all these levels for a month, up to 80% of their patients experience positive changes. Seven months later, they maintained these high levels of function when following up with the study.
caring for the mind
Whether you view the mind as the central part of the soul or as part of our most basic human functions, it is a vital level of our well being that needs attention. Calming the mind, especially in modern society, can be a daunting task. Practicing mindfulness will train your mind to learn to be present in the moment, rather than worrying about the future or regretting the past. Adding a daily mindfulness exercise to your routine can shift your focus to being present in the moment, without judgment, so you can fully enjoy it.
Mindfulness-based clinical interventions, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), typically recommend practicing meditation for 40 to 45 minutes per day. However, you can break this time up into multiple smaller exercises until you become more accustomed to meditation. These practices could be breathing exercises, guided meditations, or whatever type of exercise you enjoy.
caring for the body
Physical care is often equated with physical health alone, however, it also includes our emotional health. Our emotions are closely tied to our bodies. Think about anytime you’ve felt tired, thirsty, or hungry. You may have found yourself more irritable as usual. This is because when our bodies suffer, our stress levels rise and affect our emotions.
In order to care for your body, it’s vital to ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients you need, enough water to stay properly hydrated, a full night’s rest, reducing stress where you can, and exercising daily to keep yourself energized and fit. These are the foundational requirements to feeling good both in body and emotions.
caring for the Spirit
In order to care for the Spirit, we have to nurture our souls, or the embodiment of Spirit in an individual person. Caring for spiritual well-being may be through religion, philosophy, a practice such as yoga, or a state of awareness. The key is being able to experience a feeling of being connected, whether that’s to a church, to God, to the Universe, or just to the physical energy proved to exist by science.
If you’re unsure of whether to begin, start by doing a gratitude practice every day. Think of everything you are grateful for, from the flowers in your garden to your family to even the person who held the door open for you on your way to work. By being able to realize and appreciate all the positive aspects of your daily life, you can appreciate and recognize how everything is connected, even the smallest influences.
By enhancing your connection to mind, body, and spirit, you can improve your health in multiple different ways. Not only will you feel healthier physically, but you will also have a healthier mindset and appreciation for how you are connected to others and the world. By connecting to all three levels within yourself, you can have not only a healthy life but a fulfilling one too.
A Soak and Massage Ritual to Calm the Mind, Body, and Spirit from Chopra
1. Decide where you will be soaking.
Determine what you will be soaking in. It could be a bathtub, a large bowl for your feet, or two small bowls with one for each food. Regardless of the choice you may make, your choice is right!
2. Collect the necessary ingredients.
- Essential oils
- Flowers or pine needles
- Epsom salt and baking soda (2 cups of Epsom salt and 1 cup baking soda in a bath, or 1 cup Epsom sale and 1/2 cup baking soda in a pot)
- 1 to 2 cups of milk, either fresh or powered
- 10-12 drops of calming essential oils (be sure not to add them directly into your tub; add the oils to some milk or to your Epsom salts or a bit of olive oil, before you add to your bath—this is so you don’t irritate or burn your skin)
- Orange or lemon peels
- 2-5 tea bags
There is no wrong way to soak. While soaking, you can do whatever activity you’d like, whether that’s listening to music and reading a book or doing a breathing meditation. It’s simply important that you soak in the water with your added ingredients, trying to stay submerged for at least 20 minutes. Once you have finished your soak, pat yourself dry and go boil some water.
4. Prepare the oil.
Take a half cup of any of the follow oils, depending on what you have in your pantry:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sesame oil
- An already medicate massage oil
Once you select your oil, do the following:
- Put the oil in a metal bowl or cup.
- Take your boiled water and add it to another bowl.
- Add the metal bowl to rest in the boiled water bowl. You are trying to warm the oil slowly instead of burning it by directly heating it on the stovetop.
- Grab an old towel or rag (in case you spill or need to wipe your hands) and a pair of cozy socks.
For the massage, you will be focusing on massaging the work oil into your feet (self-abhyanga). This is an easy-to-reach part of your body that is full of marma points, which are the vital points where the force of life, or Prana, lives. The two points you are going to focus on are the Talahridaya Marma and Kshipra Marma. Talahridaya Marma is located in the middle of the sole of the foot and in a straight line drawn from the root (or the crease) of the middle toe. Kshipra Marma is located between the second and the big toe.
To start the foot massage, do the following:
- Start by coating your hands in the warm oil and massaging the right foot, followed by the left foot.
- Massage the Talahridaya Marma and the Kshipra Marma points with gentle massage strokes, then hold each point for 20 to 60 seconds.
- Follow by massaging each of your toes including the joints, starting with the big toe and ending with the baby toe.
- Now go over the whole foot, and don’t forget the heel.
- Once you are done with both feet, put on your cozy socks. Take a deep breath and remind your body that it can relax. Now you are done, feeling more grounded and nourished than before.