Real lasting health is balance between the mind, body,
and spirit of an individual.
- Michael Cantwell
Mind, body, and spirit are closely interconnected. What we do to one affects the other. For example, we are able to salivate voluntarily by imagining that we are biting into a sour lemon, and we can become physically and mentally calmer by praying, meditating, breathing deeply, or stretching.
The effect of our thoughts and spirits on our biochemical, cellular, and immune systems are so powerful that they can make us mentally or physically ill. Distorted, negative, and self-deprecating thoughts have for long been linked to depression, anxiety, stress, colds, high blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, back pain, and other illnesses. Likewise, inadequate recreation, play, and nurturance of the soul have been associated with burn-out, fatigue, hopelessness, and poor recovery prognoses.
On the flip side, positive thoughts and visualization can strengthen our immune systems, shift biochemical imbalances, and accelerate the healing process of many mental and physical illnesses. Similarly, a creative outlet and deep connection to our spiritual selves and that of others can heal and inspire us to take the best care of our minds and bodies.
The way we treat our bodies also influences our mental and spiritual health directly. Medical research has consistently shown that regular exercise, a balanced diet, and deep relaxation strongly correlate with good physical health, a positive mood, reduced anxiety, and an optimistic outlook on life.
In contrast, poor eating and health habits and inadequate physical activity can produce negative thoughts and low spirits. Even an unexpected blow to the body from a car accident, for instance, can cause distressing emotional reactions, mental flashbacks, and a feeling of soul loss.
It is often not difficult to determine which aspects of our mind–body–spirit dimension dominate and which ones need more attention. If it is not clear, listening to your breath, the intersection between mind–body–spirit, may lead you to the answer. It is hard to go wrong in terms of where to start, and a positive change in one will usually produce positive results in all.