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Balance of mind, body and spirit essential for living

Friday, March 28, 2008 | 4:00 p.m. CDT; updated 7:39 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

There was a man standing on his porch during a fierce rainstorm. As the water rose around his house, a rescuer in a large four-wheel drive vehicle drove up and asked him to come with him to higher ground. His specialized vehicle was the only vehicle able to pass through the deepening water, and in a few minutes this too would be impossible. The man on the porch rejected the offer for help and said that God would rescue him, and so the rescuer drove off.

As the water continued to rise, a rescue boat floated by and likewise asked the man to jump in the boat as they had come to rescue him. Once again, the man on the porch, now standing on the railing, rejected the rescue and said that his God would rescue him.

The water continued to rise, and eventually, when the man was standing on the peak of the rooftop, a helicopter came by and dropped a rope ladder. Again, the man waved off the help and yelled to the helicopter that God was going to rescue him. The water continued to rise and eventually the man was swept off the roof and quickly drowned.

The man soon found himself at the gates of heaven and, upon seeing God, he was confused for his own death. The man asked God, “Lord, why did you let me drown? I waited for you but you never came.” The Lord replied, “What do you mean? I sent an SUV, a boat and finally a helicopter!”

Many theories about who we are as people explore the concept of an individual being composed of a body, a mind and a spirit.

The body part of us can be defined as our physical experience. Our health, our diet, our senses, our exercise, our supplements and medication are all part of the body of an individual. We can manipulate our body to address most any concern of ours. We can exercise to lose weight, to gain weight, to relax, to increase our energy and to improve our mood. We can manipulate our diets, our supplements and our medications to the same ends.

The mind of us can be described as our intellect, our logic and our reasoning. It is our ability to make sense of the world in a linear fashion. Our mind is the cognitive part of us — the part that thinks. As with our body, we can use our mind to influence and make changes in our lives. Sometimes this even happens without our awareness of it. We can change our thinking, think positive and become what we think about or understand things differently, all as a means to address our interests and concerns.

The spirit part of us is that part we can’t hear, see, smell or touch. We have many different words and ideas about this part of us. The spirit, the psychic, cosmic, soul, karma, God, Allah, Great Spirit, collective consciousness, enlightenment and intuition are only a few ideas and names for this part. People can meet their spiritual needs in many different ways. Whether one chooses Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc., is not as important as practicing thoughts and behaviors that speak to and nourish your spirituality. The foundations of the doctrines of most of the world’s religions are, for the most part, the same. However, they developed in different times and places and thus espouse unique and different thoughts and behaviors, to understand, nourish, develop and use the spirit part of us. Like body and mind, we can use this spirit to help us in our everyday tasks, including our struggles.

The body, mind and spirit of an individual are separately and collectively powerful. The union of the three is what makes us human. The power of the three is what helps us develop and accomplish our goals and overcome our trials. Using all three is important to solving the most troublesome issues. Successfully problem-solving and putting to rest lifelong problems depends on our ability to use all of these parts of humanness in balance.

We can arbitrarily assign a numeric value of 1 to 100, 1 being weakest and 100 being strongest, to each of these three parts of us. A balance of mind 1, body 1, spirit 1, is far better than an imbalance of mind 100, body 50, spirit 20. The balance brings the power of the self. An imbalance of the three, even though, when considered separately, may seem more complete or developed, brings stress to the self. The imbalance of the three makes our experience of and our effectiveness in the world and our relationships awkward and less efficient. This is so because we experience the imbalance of ourselves more powerfully than anything we experience from outside ourselves. We experience this imbalance when we feel unsure of our decisions, our responses or when we doubt ourselves. The stress is our thoughts of regret, our confusion, our knowledge that we second-guessed ourselves. Sometimes it is that uneasy or sick feeling in our stomach.

People often routinely depend on one part of the self to solve problems that may be of another part. The mistake people often make is assuming that one part of us is more powerful or relevant to us than the other two. One part of us, body, is not able to do the work of the other part such as body or mind. “If I pray hard enough, I will lose weight.” We sometimes look exclusively to one part of us to provide answers or structure for a life that includes all three. I often hear an individual convinced that if they just pray hard enough or find the right manner to pray or meditate, their problems of, say, eating, or drinking or a biochemical depression will be resolved. A person would almost certainly die of some cardiovascular disease if he or she were to pray for his or her health while eating solely potato chips and steak. Likewise, an individual genius who evaluates everything in terms of its logic or empirical, scientific evidence would be easily dumbfounded by his or her own experience of love, intuition and the countless other similar experiences of humanity. Sometimes we put blinders up to avoid responsibility for our own lives. We can stay fixed in a certain part to avoid the irresponsibility of ignoring the other part or parts. “If I am called from God to do something, then I don’t have to take responsibility for my health, my looks, my relationships, etc.”

However, each part of us has its own role and function in our life and must be honored as such. Each part of us is equally powerful and just as important.

The truth is, all are a part of us, and when used in balance, we become most powerful, most effective and most ourselves. We tend to overuse those parts with which we are comfortable and ignore those other parts that we are most uncomfortable with.

To solve, for once and for all, your lifelong issues and burdens, it would be worth the risk to explore, understand and use the parts of you that you tend to ignore. Use your body, mind and spirit in balance. Identify what you already use and what you never use.

If you recall the biblical story of David and Goliath, even David had to pick up a rock.

Dwayne Stone has worked in the mental health field for more than 18 years in both public and private agencies and private practice as a counselor and life coach. His columns appear periodically at ColumbiaMissourian.com.


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