Mind, Body, Spirit: BALANCE
Find your Balance, be a Joy Starter and live your best life.
What comes to mind when you see the words, "mind, body, spirit"? For myself, I consider this the trinity for personal balance. We have all heard the saying, "you are what you eat", and the mind/body connection, however, I would challenge you to look deeper.
"True healing and wellbeing come by nourishing the mind, body, and spirit." Do you believe this to be true? I have personally struggled to find my own personal balance. I am naturally geared as an all or nothing person. When I'm in, I'm all in; when I'm not, I'm not. This has not worked well for me. The personal pressure to be all things to all people, meet my own daunting expectations, let alone those of others, while trying to find some inner joy and satisfaction has been tough. What I have learned is, to truly find balance and joy, I need to be in alignment (mind, body, spirit). I do not think I will ever be perfectly in sync, however, having an awareness, with daily conscious adjustments, the process becomes easier. In fact, as you learn to look within, identify imbalances, pivot, and take the tiny steps in a new direction, good habits can naturally evolve. And, when you form habits to encourage balance, joy, and peace follow.
I must address that we are in crazy, unprecedented times, where isolation, restrictions, and fear have produced imbalances in our lives, taken away normal routines, and have added stressors into the mix. These factors should be considered as we seek balance. Our minds and spirits require relationship to thrive in an optimal state. COVID-19 has made connection challenging, less meaningful, and has left many lonely and fearful. As much as I appreciate zoom, google meets and other virtual connection, it does not replace the personal need and physiological benefit of being with others. God designed us for relationship, tangible, meaningful togetherness. The pandemic has quenched the spirit of so many; this is the time to be ever present, intentional, and strive to maintain balance.
Being intentional involves routine, stepping outside of what we "feel like doing", and at times can be totally exhausting. Intentionality is the fact of being deliberate or purposive. Over the past year especially, I have had to take a deep look at where I am imbalanced, to build an intentional mindset. I realized the following:
I was totally frustrated with not having clear direction in my life, yet I was okay to remain apathetic.
I allowed fear to enter my bind, body, and spirit. This in turn created self doubt, mistrust, and health issues to creep into my life.
I began to think that this was how my life was going to be; I better just accept that.
I became ok with separation and lack of intimacy with others. I hid behind pandemic directives.
I noticed cynicism bubbling up inside me and was at times, having negative and controlling thoughts.
These beliefs are not only limiting, but life-sucking barriers that stop us from creating the life we want and need. Let me go a bit deeper.
Our minds are powerful. We do not even realize the subconscious ability our minds have to observe, filter, retain, formulate thought, create a sense of feeling, and absorb stress. If we think of the mind on its own, we are limiting the power and control it holds. The mind acts and reacts with the body/heart. The mind see's, hears and senses an external factor, and responds by sending signals to the body and feelings to the heart. We need to train our mind to respond and manage the negative stimuli by creating a default setting to move in a positive direction. Gosh, this is not easy. I have had so many mind shifts over the past few years, while facing the unproductive ways I dealt with stress, anxiety, and fear.
Here are some ways I changed my mindset from self-sabotaging to life-giving:
You are what you read. What are you reading? Is it beneficial, encouraging, powerful, and useful?
You are what you watch. Are you spending hours watching local mainstream media, are you watching garbage TV? Are you investing your time filling your mind with life? This is not the same as being informed with local and world events, however too much of it will pay a huge toll on our minds.
Are you taking time to meditate and think about what your goals and dreams are? Do you have goals and dreams? What stands in the way from you moving forward?
Are you resting your mind from all the clutter, distraction, allowing it to recharge? An overtaxed mind is like a traffic jam. Nothing moves, chaos abounds and frustration mounts.
Our bodies are remarkable. God designed us so intricately. How every cell, muscle, ligament, bone, and organ work together and are designed so perfectly. When our bodies are sick, or we are missing a part, have a defective component, it can be devastating. I have seen many friends and loved ones who have battled with illness and disease. I have watched people I love die from terminal illness. I am in no way suggesting there was anything that could have been done differently. Sometimes we just do not understand why things happen. Those big questions, "why did this happen God", will not be answered until we get to eternity. What I can say, is that for those of us who are feeling and seeing the effects of personal illness, whether the start or if we have declined from where we used to be, can make changes physically to promote healing and well-being. Last year was one of the most difficult years of my life, next to the year I was diagnosed with PTSD. Partly the pandemic, but more so relationship stress, health decline, and lacking vision for my future. Here is what I learned was standing in my way to have a healthier body, able to accomplish my goals and dreams:
I was inactive. I literally spent last year sitting on my butt, lazy, apathetic, unmotivated, and had a pity party. I had to stop the crazy train and decide to move, do anything, just something.
I was putting in garbage, and in turn, felt like garbage. I stopped doing what felt good in the moment, became intentional (there is that word again), about what I put in my mouth, so that I could feel alive. Are the foods you are eating going to contribute to a healthy body, heart, brain, and mood?
Are you getting the necessary vitamins and minerals to live in optimal health? In January 2021, I was introduced to minerals. They have changed my life and I am eternally grateful for the 180-degree change in my health since.
When I looked at my body, I did not recognize myself anymore. I have always had issues with body image. It is rare, whether male or female not to have struggled to some degree with body image. For myself, it was polarizing. It was relentless, self-deprecating, and so hard to shift. Do you love yourself, every saggy, wobbly bit, extra 10 pounds, and wrinkle? Now for the young ones, this does not let you off the hook. I know you spend your time comparing yourself. How can you not, given that social media tells you every day what beautiful looks like? Do you believe it? Do you see your beauty?
The human spirit includes our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity. It is this spirit that provides us the unique ability to comprehend and understand our purpose. As a Christian, my spirit connects my heart to God. For myself, I can tangibly feel when my spirit is weak, disconnected, lonely, fearful etc. I also know to be true when my focus is not on things that direct me to the goodness of God, my spirit is not in harmony with my mind and body. My heart feels the deep ache of a longing spirit. I had that a ha moment early this year, after feeling completely undone, sick, tired, at my wits end with myself, that because my mind and body were so imbalanced, my spirit was squashed beneath the disaster sight. I needed to make changes to find that "feeling" I longed for; to be happy, feel true joy and regain the hope I had lost. Do you know what I mean? Have you experienced a weary spirit? Have you lost your joy? This is what I realized I needed to do:
I needed to make prayer a greater priority. Not just in the 11th hour moments. The peace that follows is immeasurable. If you do not believe in prayer, I would challenge you to find quiet, meditate, and think about positive, good thoughts.
Possess an attitude of gratitude. The glass may seem half empty, but it is really how you choose to perceive it. I decided that no matter what crap I was experiencing around me, I was going to make the glass half full. Fake it till you make it. This tiny attitude adjustment is golden when you are in a stalemate.
Read good books, listen to podcasts, spend your time with positive people, keep a gratitude journal, take a course, commit to personal growth, and trust the process.
Check in with those you trust. Adjust the course, if necessary, analyze what is working, and change what you need to change.
Figure out where you get your peace and joy from? Is it from calm? Is it when you are stress free? Is it when you are helping others? Is it when your tank is being filled by others? Before your spirit can be in balance, you need to know yourself, who you are and where you want to be. For myself, when I took the focus off "me", and onto helping others, my spirit felt in equilibrium. The joy/peace returned. It was not overnight, it took time, it is still a daily process for me because my choices and intentions steer my focus.
Thanks for hanging in, I promise I am almost done. These times are no joke, they are joy robbing, stress inducing and chaos making. So, what do we do? Do we allow the world around us to dictate our lot in life or do we get up every day, pull off the covers, look in the mirror, and put on an attitude that moves us to a place of balance? Set your mind on things that are lovely, good, pure, beneficial, fuel your body for greatness, move a little, (just put on the running shoes), and fill your spirit with soul enriching, life building moments to sustain you through even the most difficult times.
Commit with me to at least look at your mind, body, spirit balance, and assess if you need to shift, delete, or add more intention. Do you have the peace and joy you desire in your life? Isn't it amazing to know we are not alone? And even though you cannot sit on my deck sipping a cocktail, or cup of coffee, talking about life, I cherish each one of you and long for the day when we can have community again. That gives me Hope!!!