I was pretty young the first time I looked at the mirror and thought, “Is this body all that I am?” I stared into my eyes that stared back at me. Out of a stillness in my heart came the answer, NO! This resounding “No” was not born from the thoughts generated by my brain. It was a clear transmission from my heart. Whether it was my physical heart or an intelligence that centers its self there is up for debate. About two seconds later my brain kicked in with a big fat, “Prove It!” Game on. What ensued was an internal shouting match between my brain where thought is centered and my heart where a passionate spectrum of feelings seem to originate. It was a battle of analytical questions challenging responsive feelings that went on caustically until the ultimate referee hit the scene, My Soul. You may know it as your inner voice, essential self, essence, consciousness, inner wisdom. It goes by so many names across many different cultures, communities, religions and most of humanity can agree that there is this significant ingredient in us. The voice of my soul let the rest of me have it. “Inside your physical body you are acknowledging these thoughts, these feelings and your are acknowledging my voice as your essence playing referee to you all. We must all exist in you, as parts to your whole. You are more than the physical form of your body!” There might of been a big judgmental “DUUUH…” uttered at the tail end of that statement…who knows, it was so long ago. By the end, there was quiet stillness reverberating through the internal landscape of my young self.
Honestly, I did not think much about it again. These words: body, mind, heart and soul are spoken of all the time. They are in our stories, music, art, movies, our day to day conversations with each other. They are so primal to us and innate to how we express our experiences. Aside from that one moment, it had never occurred to me to question the existence of a mind, heart and soul in me. Their vernacular is so intertwined in the fabric of our humanity from one generation to the next. Yet, we don’t really understand how these aspects of us form our inner landscape and impact our experience out in the world. Yet, they do. My 80 year old father reflecting on the early days of being an architect in the 70’s recently said to me, “I had a responsibility as a father and a husband to provide for my wife and child, so I took this stable job and died inside to make our lives in America work.” It was hard growing up with him and it is no wonder why with that statement . Yet, after all these years, he never really questioned what this was that died inside of him and how that impacted the outer landscape of his life.
So here we are. More than just our physical bodies, with a dollop of thoughts generated by our brains making the mind, a full palette of emotions/feelings that most will agree comprise the heart, along with an innate uniqueness that is our essence, I call a soul. Does Newton’s Second Law of cause and effect apply to our thoughts, feelings, and the will of our essence on our bodies? Do they impact our physical bodies or does the health of our bodies impact them? Is there enough, if any physical matter to our thoughts, feelings or our innate nature to exert enough potential force to trigger illness in us? Medicine in its modern form does a lot to explain the physical functioning of the body but it doesn’t do much to answer these questions. There are certainly data on the impact of stress on health, an understanding that being in a relationship improves our longevity and sense that when we live with purpose we are happier.
I believe that the thoughts generated by our minds, feelings originating in our hearts, the unique essence harbored in our souls profoundly influences our physical bodies and are integral to our experience of wellness. They are major players not just in being human but also influential in manifesting illness, which makes them vital to the healing process. Science is starting to establish some of these correlations and dig into the physiology of these potential relationships. Epigenetics is at the forefront of understanding some of this phenomenon today. As this exploration unfolds, so does our understanding of how these dimensions of being work in our healing process. While we wait for more grounded proof, what is your experience of yourself? Do you experience entities of a mind, a heart, and a soul within your body? How does your body experience them? How do you experience your internal landscape with respect to yourself out in the world and in relationship to the people in your life? Does this effect your health?