Mind and Body - Separate things?
As a scientist
I like to look at a person as a whole system, just like an aircraft is made-up of a fuselage, engine, aircrew, controls, and wings. Have a look here at a speech I gave recently. I look at the Mind and the Body as the two main components of us people. There are lots of other ways to break us down into more details, but it is sometimes useful to look at the big picture. The Mind - Body - Spirit approach is a simple but complete way to look at yourself.
Our Mind is usually regarded as what is stored in our head with neuronal connections and chemical interactions. Taken at the highest level, it includes what we think about consciously but also unconsciously emotions, senses, nervous system, and biological processes to control some of our vital body functions without us having to think about it (I wouldn't want my heart to stop when I fall asleep!). The mind may also include a certain spiritual aspect of our thinking.
This one is easy: our physical us is mostly what's not coded into your head, although your head and your physical brain are part of your body. That is the simplest way to divide humans and it's used this way quite a lot. Our body is what allows us to move around and actually touch things and interact with people. It allows us to communicate, eat and reproduce.
This generally represents something larger and more encompassing that just your internal mind in your head or your body. Of course that is the case with religious faith, but many people also think of the spiritual aspect of their lives as a higher purpose regarding with how they are linked to others, a greater good, or aspirations in some not necessarily scientifically understood manner. It used to be that the spiritual aspect was impossible to measure in a scientific manner, but breakthrough in brain imaging and positive psychology has come up with new scientific evidence clearly indicating there are benefits of thinking like this and that it is definitely good for you and will likely make you feel happier and more positive.
The interaction between the body and the mind
This interaction is constant between our three essential components (Mind-Body-Spirit). My mind thinks, and allows me to have ideas and concept to communicate to people, while my body translate these thought into actions, something that can be communicated. It is important to keep this team working together: your mind must look after your body, or else the body will become weak. If your body weakens, your mind will lack energy to process information and direct actions properly, which will make the body even weaker.
Like any good efficient team, both the mind and the body perform better when they cooperate with each other and look after each other.
Most of the time, we don't have to think about looking after our body, but sometimes, when dealing with challenging situations or working towards new goals that stretch our capabilities, we forget some basic things...
A problem arises we don't coordinate our two sides: sometimes we overwork ourselves physically, being stressed and not sleeping enough - not looking after our body, but we take for granted that our mind will work great when our body is tired. The problem is, our mind really depends on our body being healthy to feed it the energy it requires, and it depends on physical habits such as sleeping and eating regularly to be well balanced and work at its best. Sometimes the reverse is true, we stress our mind so much worrying and focusing intensely on internal issues, that we may forget to remind ourselves that our body needs to relax, it works best with physical activity, and so we need to disconnect from our focused internal states. This can be difficult!
Mind, Body and Goals Success
To reach your challenging goals, you should work with both components of your life: Mind and Body. These are some easy ways to leverage your Mind-Body connections:
- When setting Goals, think about how achieving the goal will make you feel with respect to your body and your mind. Make sure you write some exciting thoughts into your goal purpose statement that you'll review occasionally to stay motivated. For example. loosing weight will make you feel more energetic (body) and feel better about yourself, boosting your self-esteem and confidence (mind).
- Keep track of your mind and body states, when they feel good, and when they feel like they are running out of energy. Just paying attention to your whole person will make you better at understanding yourself and taking care of your whole person.
- When pursuing goals, establish good success habits dealing with both your mind and your body. Track how you are performing your habits to establish them efficiently, and to track how they make you feel.
- To track how your whole person is living while working towards your most important goals and success habits, I personally have found tracking these three indicators are very useful for activities that I do:
- Performance: How has my doing a certain habit progressed me towards my intended goal or goals. This is critical to make you think about being efficient and progressing well towards your goal. When you are rating this, you are also rating your mind's state and how on-purpose it feels.
- Senses: I am directly referring here to your feelings such as emotional, physical, and how you feel about the general connection between your mind and your body. While the Performance rating is all about how well the activity will progress you towards your goal, the sense rating is about how it feels, for both body and mind.
- Harmony & Connections: This factor is more abstract, so it will benefit from an analogy with an airplane:
- For the plane to fly without crashing and get to its destination, it needs to be in harmony with what's outside and around it: the really bad weather needs to be avoided, the other aircraft traffic needs to be coordinated to avoid collisions, and the passengers needs to get to the flight on time, for it to depart on time and arrive to its destination on time.
Harmony is how the inside of the plane, or how our individual selves are coordinated with other people and outside events for smooth and efficient achievement of our Goals.
To Live fully, we should all pay attention to our three essential components of Mind, Body and Spirit. Of course, living is much more exciting and satisfying when having a purpose and setting specific Goals.
Along with the information here, I built useful online tools to manage your Life, Facets and Goals. Register here to get access.
Exchanging ideas about on-purpose living with a mind-body-spirit approach is really what my own purpose for this website and online application. As an engineer and scientist, I like building models and then testing them with actual goals and progress.
I can say that the best consistent results I have obtained were mixing purpose with whole person approach. However, it can get complicated to merge these multiple competing aspects into a comprehensive plan, so I have had to build a tool to manage these aspects and keep my past scores and notes so that in retrospect, I can try to improve myself each time, and slowly improve while getting close to reaching my goals.