Healthy body – Healthy mind. Which comes first?
It is a bit of a chicken and egg question really. Does a healthy body lead to a healthy mind or a healthy mind lead to a healthy body? It can be difficult to ascertain which is the most important. We know in all forms of medicine that exercise and a healthy diet can increase our energy levels, productivity, and self-perception. This can then lead to greater mental capacity due to increased circulation to the head and increased supply of nutrients to the brain and so it must be a healthy body, which comes first. Yes? Sorry no.
Well what part does the mind have to play then. All forms of medicine would also agree that the mind is a part of the brain in some way or another. The brain is considered to be the computer or control centre of the body without which we would not continue to live and breath. Being the control centre suggests that all functions of the body begin here and this is true. Any action we take from physical movement, planning, motivating and decision making begins with a mental process. The brain is also part of the central nervous system, which is the first structure to form in utero. This makes you think a little more doesn’t it.
In Chinese medicine and martial arts practitioners follow the adage Yi, the mind leads Qi, life energy, and Qi creates Li, strength. So the Chinese believe that through directing the mind we will move our energy and therefore create strength of the body. Strength here does not just indicate the physical power to move objects of great weight but the ability to have a balance of flexibility, strength and vitality in all aspects of our lives. That is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It is with this greater strength that we have the ability to expand and create endless possibilities for ourselves and those around us.
So if the mind has such an ability to enhance our lives on the whole then why is it that we struggle? It is the thoughts that we allow to continue. “I can’t”, “I’m too tired”, “I’m not good enough”, “I am worthless”, “I don’t care about myself” and my personal favourite ” I failed last time I tried”. I ask you to look within and see if any of these sound familiar. Be honest. It is the negative talk that goes on in our minds, I call it the monkey on your back, which prevents us from achieving our best. “But I can’t stop it” see there it goes again. You have the ability to do absolutely anything if you put your mind to it. It is really very simple, as are most of the keys to life.
Interestingly the study via this link has shown that you don’t have to be a buddist monk for meditation to achieve a positive effect from meditation.
Here is an exercise to get you started and it only takes five minutes. Lying on your back with your legs slightly bent, you can put a pillow behind your knees. Close your eyes and have your hands by your sides palms open and facing up. Make sure that you are as relaxed as possible. Take your focus to a point that is about one inch below your navel on your midline. The Chinese call this point Qihai or sea of life energy. Focus your breathing to this point. Maintain this focus throughout. This is a method of retraining the mind. Now you will catch yourself thinking about other things I guarantee this. When you do bring your focus back to the point mentioned. It is a very simple exercise but when practiced regularly is very effective. The key is to not beat yourself up when you lose focus but just to refocus. Beating yourself up is just keeping your mind on the negative and away from what you are trying to achieve. I recommend that you do this at least once a day increasing the time gradually. Enjoy the power of your mind and your healthier body.