Whichever way you treat your body, it will react and respond. Your mind is equally as reactive and will pick up on what you do ‘well’ or not. The schools of thought differ on whether body and mind are one or two units. This can be why we look at lifestyle change either as a short-term diet or, as a long-term investment in a life of health for our whole being.
Body, Mind, Health and Wellness
The predominant Western view is that the body is separate and distinct from the mind. The implication of this approach to health and wellness is that you need to treat only the body and the physical symptoms. This would imply that you simply wait until you get sick. Or – to go back to the car metaphor – you treat your body as if it’s a rented car that you need not take care of, as a mechanic will deal with that later.
The Eastern tradition view mind and body as related, and that they have an impact on each other. The recognition of unity of the whole person. This would then mean that we look after our bodies and minds preventively. In the car metaphor – you service, maintain, prevent break-downs and become a lifestyle change mechanic.
As described so well by Marc Levin, Huffington post, in his article ‘Does your mind impact your Health’ : “We are not machines composed of totally independent parts. Humans are complex, interrelated wholes with all aspects of our existence impacting other aspects of our being. From a health and wellness standpoint, the Eastern approach is a whole-person approach because the mind and body are seen as directly related. What goes on in your mind — what you think and how you feel — directly impacts your body, which in turn affects your thinking and emotions. The Eastern model does not deny that external factors can impact disease and illness, but it recognizes that there are internal factors that are equally important. To maintain health and wellness requires treating and considering the entire mind-body complex.”
To reach a state of wellness, you need to work on it by actively and preventively look after body, mind and spirit. This is what I believe now based on experiences in both ‘worlds’.
Lifestyle change – active or reactive?
Why is it important to look at these schools of thought when we are talking about lifestyle change?
The reactive – a short-lived change
A common approach is to sit back and wait. Only react when something is not right in your body or your mind. The Doctor fixes the problem – hopefully – and the you can go on.
Actually – I think you have to understand what makes our bodies work, function and flow – the Human Body Systems, and compare that with what we read in magazines daily. ‘The Best Diet Pill!’ versus ‘Health for Body and Mind’ – which ones do you believe speaks to you?
During my time, I have certainly experienced both approaches. I have done the 14 days diet, with some result – and gone right back to up (and more!) again. I have become an overnight jogger with rather painful results, and not taking it step by step I injured myself. Not so much jogging after that…
The active – a long life investment
Now – It seems counter intuitive to diet, go on a fitness fad, and read a book about ‘stress’ – without actually looking at all factors combined. I know now from experience, what works.
Changing habits, over time, step by step – looking at body and mind as one whole cycle and unity that needs respect. Recognising that we are all different, and finding what works for you – as long as you take an active role in a change process. That works!
Just look at how the Human Body Systems and the Brain communicate, and compensate for the choices that we who inhabit the body make. To work well our whole genetic make up needs looking after top to toe – and the mind and ‘the spirit’ in harmony with the rest.
The Good Choice – Lifestyle change
The Body and Mind connection come into play, and then we start to see why lifestyle changes really make sense – and a huge difference to how we feel and live.
Interconnected complex systems that need to be respected, looked after, preventively and with care. No one knows you like you do! A bit more understanding and knowledge gives you all the right clues to set off on the most important journey ever. The rediscovery of you! Body and Mind – together!