Saturday, April 19, 2014

Body, Mind, and Spirit: A Great Life

I don't know why but at the age of 18 I became extremely interested in the meaning of life. I'm pretty sure it got started by my first year college English professor Hobart Mitchell. He taught those of us who were curious how to meditate in his office after class.  This interest in going beyond ordinary thinking and living spilled over into taking a deeper interest in developing a healthy mind and body.

You could say that for nearly my whole adult life, except for a few years in my 30's, I've been experimenting and searching for a better way to live. In a few short paragraphs I would like to share with you, in a nutshell, the fruits of this search in three critical areas: the body, the mind, the spirit. 

The Body. To have a great life you need a healthy body. Exercise is vital, we all know that and there is no debate about how to do it. Just find a way that works for you and move your body every day, preferably for at least an hour. The second aspect is what and how to eat. I have researched this and read more books than you can imagine and while the advice from the "experts" is conflicting there is one doctor, one physician who stands as the one person whose nutritional guidelines I totally agree with. Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Read and follow his way in Eat for Health. After years of searching and experimenting this is the best I have found. You don't need anything else. If you want to go beyond Fuhrman you can, but I think your time would be better used working on the other two critical aspects of your life.

Which brings us to the mind. This is fairly simple to understand. And while I do have a Ph. D. in Psychology, you don't need one. The mind, like your body needs to be exercised. Daily. Too little exercise and you become bored with your life and that leads to self-medicating. Meaning you do things to make your life bearable. That includes imbalance regarding food, sex, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, and other medications. Note that I said imbalance. All these things can be enjoyed, but when the mind is not exercised it craves these things in an out of balance way.

So, what is there to do? Learn. Live your life so you are always learning something. At the lowest point in my life I was given the most important instruction I've ever received regarding mental health. I was told, by a voice in my head, that I was depressed because I wasn't doing anything challenging. Specifically, I was told to go learn to play the violin. I did. Then I took piano and guitar lessons. Then I learned to fly a plane. Then I went back to college. These days I'm learning Vietnamese. My life is balanced and I haven't needed to self-medicate for over 20 years.

Spiritual health is a little tricky because some of us get caught up in the idea of God. I am here to tell you that you can have perfect spiritual heath without a belief in God. Even if you do believe in God, don't let that belief get in your way of finding peace spiritually. Spiritual health is all about living your life right here, right now. It is about embracing and accepting all that comes to you in your life as it is. There is a lot more that can be said, but I will refer you to two books by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now and A New Earth. I've spent my whole adult life reading in this area and no one explains it more clearly than this guy. 

In the end, you and I, in essence, are containers. The content of our lives is what flows through us. But that is all that it is. We have holes in our bottoms (pun intended) so that the stuff can keep flowing through. That stuff will never last, but we will. Be the container, be the watcher as the stuff comes and goes. It is a great life.


Hassan Demartino said...

Thank you for sharing your wisdom Frank.

Linda Mayne-Degnan said...

Love your message Frank and I too love Eckhart Tolle