My About Me page talks a lot about mind, body, spirit connection. I believe the mind, body and spirit are intimately connected and that God would have us take great care of each part. In seeking Him for balance, there is great clarity in how to make your mind, body and spirit work together.
As part of a holistic Christian lifestyle, I believe the way we go about everything from health maintenance and self-care to parenting and relationships, should work together and not against the betterment of the whole. This means listening to our inner voice, not trying to silence its warnings or urgings, and also teaching our kids to listen to their own inner voice.
I also believe that Jesus Christ laid down his life and took it back up again so that we never have to experience distance from God unless it is by our own choice. I believe that we have nothing to offer God that he doesn’t already have access to. There’s no amazing talent that he needs to borrow from us.
Through his lavish love and grace, however, he invites us to work alongside him loving and healing a broken world, one person at a time. God doesn’t want anything from us, but desires every good thing for us; mind, body and spirit!
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How To Make Your Mind, Body and Spirit Work Together
So connectivity and balance sounds great, but how to make your mind, body and spirit work together and not against the betterment of the whole can feel overwhelming.
It’s easier than you might think, because guess what? We have zero control in that area.
From Day 1, our mind, body and spirit are already intimately connected for better or worse. The harder part, that which takes greater intention, is in the tending of each piece to keep them healthy and supportive of one another!
What is the Mind-Body Connection?
We don’t always put mind and body into a cause and effect relationship, but it does not take too deep of an observation to build basic mind-body awareness.
What emotions come to mind when picturing yourself with sweaty palms, a tightened jaw, increased blood pressure and stomach discomfort?
How about flushed cheeks, raucous laughter and inexplicable tears?
Whether it’s anger or anxiety in the first scenario or incredible joy over an inside joke with our bestie, we easily see that our thoughts and emotions cause physical reactions.
Effects of Negative Emotions
Overtime, the effects of negative emotions include physical pain, higher susceptibility to injury and heightened awareness of resulting physical pain, elevated cortisol levels and a weakened immune system. When negative emotions lead the way, we’re less likely to practice self-care, take healthy risks or engage socially. In this way, our overall being is negatively affected and our freedom to live joyfully becomes restricted.
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NIV)
Understanding the truth of how we’re created to intimately reflect God’s image is freeing, but can feel weighty if we’re already bone tired. Because it’s not a snap your fingers and feel better kind of thing. The beginning steps of merely noticing our emotions, not to mention dealing with them can be truly difficult. We women spend so much time mothering others, helping them to feel good and stay healthy. It can be hard to admit when we’re not experiencing emotional freedom ourselves.
Even though it is uncomfortable, it’s important to be aware of our emotions and their roots, as well as what triggers their ill effects. Being mindful of our emotions means noticing how we feel and taking time to accept the discomfort, knowing it will pass. In this acceptance, we are better able to soothe ourselves and look for solutions.
Earlier this week, I was texting my sister-in-LOVE about how I was recovering from a hard situation and expressed that I felt furious and sad. Her response?
“Then be furious and sad. And keep taking all that to God.” ~Kacy of Redeemed Ruth
Such pure, intuitive emotional intelligence in that heart of hers! With her as my guide, I fully realized the power in giving myself the OK to feel all the feelings and do what I needed to deal and recover. In my case, she knew that was taking it straight to my Father, who PS was not surprised or offended by my humanity.
Perhaps more than figuring out exactly how to make your mind, body and spirit work together, the quest should be on surrendering it all to Him.
Building Mind Body Awareness for Better Health
Unhealthy emotional responses such as justifying our physical reactions or compartmentalizing or sectioning off feelings can be second nature for many of us. Our emotions lead to a physical reaction, and often we have negative feelings like shame or resentment in response. It can be a nasty cycle with lifelong effects if we don’t gently pull in the reins.
Experiencing a range of emotions without feeling any pressure to react can bring insight on root cause, wisdom in finding a solution and great relief knowing we can sit under a dark cloud or atop a hot fire and not be overtaken.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
~Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
How To Make Your Mind, Body and Spirit Work Together
Here are tools for breaking this negative cycle and improving your mind-body awareness.
- Meditation is great for learning to take notice rather than react without thought. It took time, but after meditating consistently for a year, I noticed how my emotional intelligence improved. I could sense anger rising up, take a breath and evaluate whether or not a reaction was necessary, and if so which reaction would be helpful. Mamas, read that again. If you’re not meditating, or at least taking some moments of stillness in your day, I encourage you provide this gift to you and your sweet family!
- Yoga provides healing through stillness, balance awareness, and confidence. We often focus on our mind’s role in healing the body, but I love that overtime, yoga can heal our mind. Such a beautiful cyclical practice!
- Positive Affirmations help by sending a positive reset to our message center. These are especially helpful when reinforced by our spiritual beliefs. In crafting affirmations for myself and for my kids, I use God’s own words about his vision for us and who he created us to be.
- Talking it out – friends, family, a counselor and even journaling can help uncover roots, triggers, and untapped wisdom.
- Practice Gratitude – There are countless studies on how gratitude changes our outlook, controls toxic thoughts, improves mental and physical health. The benefits take a while to build, but once activated the effects are long-lasting. You can read more on one study here, and if you’re interested in putting this practice in place, check out “Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity“ by Robert A. Emmons. My book club read this book a few years back prior to the holiday season. I loved how the book walks the reader through numerous studies to build trust in the system and then gives assignments you can continue long after the book is completed!
- Sunshine, sleep, exercise and diet effect both sides of this emotional/physical response coin. Depending on how low your emotions have you, these may be the hardest to pull off. If so, start small and without judgement. Progress is never negligible!
I hinted at it with my comments on Positive Affirmations. For me, a healthy mind-body connection is far easier to achieve when supported by my faith.
What is the Difference Between Soul and Spirit in the Bible?
Now that we’ve simplified overwhelming equation of how to make your mind body and spirit work together, let’s look at some Biblical definitions.
How do you think of your Self? Mind, Body, Spirit? Mind, Body, Soul? Or a broader mix that includes Heart, as well?
And at the end of the day, how much does it matter? I’m not certain on that one, but if you want to nerd out with me, I’m stoked to have you by my side as see how the Bible defines each one. I feel so Ms. Frizzle right now! Let’s pretend this is the one where The Magic School Bus dives under the sea. Because, can’t we be that way? Tumultuous at the surface, needing to go miles deeper before discovering any stillness?
I pulled my understanding of these terms from the dictionaries at BibleStudyTools.com. This is a great site to bookmark for when you need more context. Each header is linked directly to that term’s summary page.
The Bible references the mind as the place where our thoughts are originated, where we perceive events and create our worldview, where we make decisions and express ourselves.
The Old Testament refers to the mind in many different ways to reflect the inward, hidden parts of human beings in a comprehensive, holistic manner. Commonly, the use of “heart”, “spirit” and “soul” are interchangeable with “the mind” in these books. So, right off the bat, we confirm that each term in our “how to make your mind body and spirit work together” equation is woven tightly together.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” ~Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
“The Hebrew culture, which considered the intellectual and emotional dimensions of human life from the perspective of the whole person: heart, soul, and spirit are not separate parts of the inner person, but each is a reference to the whole inner person and is to be viewed in relation to the body (Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology).”
Paul and other New Testament authors refer to the mind as our disposition and our inner compass, allowing for thought, understanding and discernment.
In this space, I’m looking at our individually owned and operated physical bodies rather than the Church Body.
Let me tell you, this one was hard to suss out. The body is deeply connected to all other parts. Unraveling the body and soul connection is near impossible when viewed from the belief that God created the world and everything in it.
Genesis tells us that God created and completed our environment with great detail and purpose. He then created us, both male and female in his image, and completed us by breathing his own life into us.
“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:44 (ESV)
“This integration of body and soul constitutes an internal dynamic that is truly remarkable. The body becomes the expression of the soul. The voice articulates prayer, raised hands express praise, bowing low reflects humble adoration and worship (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology).”
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.” ~Psalm 139:14-16 (ESV)
Two words in the Bible refer to the spirit as breath or wind; “Ruah” in the Old Testament and “Pneuma” in the New Testament.
From these definitions and our review of the Creation story, we understand the spirit of Adam was God-breathed. For Adam and Eve and each of us after, the spiritual portion of our makeup is a God given gift. Breathe in that goodness! Father God, let it settle in our bones. You created us and called us good.
Our spirit is what allows us to have dynamic communication with God. It is also what can open us up to the darkness of avoiding what we were created to be. Spirit also refers to our vital powers of life. It can be lifted up or be crushed. It can be renewed and decreased. It can sustain us through sickness and adversity. In no way wishing to diminish the mystery and awe of our God-breathed spirit, I have to say this gives me images of video game Health and Life Meters.
“A (person’s) spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” Proverbs 18:14 (NIV)
This explains why so many times, a crisis is what leads a person to spiritual healing. We innately know our spiritual health is the key to recovering our life.
Have you ever wondered what is a person’s soul exactly? Or what is the difference between your soul and spirit?
Me, too! And guess what, it’s pretty simple.
Soul = Life.
“Clearly, then, in the Old Testament (Hebrew language), a mortal is a living soul rather than having a soul. Instead of splitting a person into two or three parts, Hebrew thought sees a unified being, but one that is profoundly complex, a psychophysical being (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology).”
In the New Testament, the word “psyche” is used more often for “spirit” versus the Old Testament which uses the word “nepes”. Nepes was primarily used in poetry, which is common in the OT. Psyche can indicate the person, as well as their emotional drive.
Knowing this provides clarity when we come across verses that use spirit and soul as separate and distinctive parts.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV)
So to paraphrase that verse with our new vocab understanding, “Allow the God of peace to work in you so He can make everything about you, the part he breathed into you, the very life in your veins and the body which carries you through your days, wholly pure. He can be trusted with any question on how to make your mind, body and spirit work together!”
Biblically, the heart is the spiritual center of our being and also the place from which we execute our life operations.
In some cases “Soul” and “Heart” can be used interchangeably, but often they indicate deeply connected, but separate portions of our being. The Heart acts as our conscience and determines designations of a person as pure, good and upright, or hard and wicked.
It is here in the heart that the process of salvation begins with a believing reception of God’s love and grace. Alternatively, a hard heart “evidences itself by light views of sin; partial acknowledgment and confession of it; pride and conceit; ingratitude; unconcern about the word and ordinances of God; inattention to divine providences; stifling convictions of conscience; shunning reproof; presumption, and general ignorance of divine things (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).”
Regardless of our heart’s feelings or beliefs about ourselves, its spirituality and perceptions, humanity has long recognized the heart as the center of our being.
As a Jesus follower then, it all makes so much giant chalkboard circling and arrows sense why having my heart whole and healthy through his love and grace, brings life to all other parts. Even on hard days, my heart’s designation as His brings life, freedom and joy.
How to Make Your Mind, Body and Spirit Work Together
So in case you skimmed the post and didn’t catch it above, there’s nothing we can do to “make” our mind, body and spirit work together. It’s already done. For better or worse, these parts are working together. We might find greater balance, however, if we flipped the order and begin thinking of ourselves as Spirit, Mind and Body creations, acknowledging our spirit as the greatest indicator of our holistic health.
God created us this way, in his own image. Part of the beauty in this, is that we get to feel uncomfortable when things are out of balance. Don’t run from this feeling, tuck it in close and go straight to him. He’s got you and your breakthrough!
How does better understanding these definitions change the way you view God’s desire to set you free?