The Spirit Of Therapy Blog
We speak of the soul as being an abstract thing, an ephemeral entity. Our thoughts and our emotions are also non-material, but we tend to give them more attention. In fact, we are very much swayed by their influences. All of these experienced are housed within our bodies – our concrete, material forms. Yet, we often do not pay attention to how inter-connected these aspects of ourselves our. To rejuvenate our spirits, we must be mindful of our thoughts, feelings and bodies.
Our bodies contain our experiences. They are affected by what we hold inside, and in turn, our emotions, thoughts and spirits are affected by the quality of the body. Winemakers understand this relationship between the container and the contained. The quality and taste of a wine can be manipulated by its container. Wine aged in an oak barrel has a different “personality” than a wine kept in stainless steel. The wine itself contains tannins, proteins and lactic acids that interact with one another and cause the container to produce certain changes.
Similarly, the “quality” of our body will inevitably affect our relationship to our spirit. The body is sending us signals constantly, non-verbal messages that we sometimes notice, such as a headache, and sometimes either ignore or overlook. Paying attention to these messages can sometimes reveal answers to questions we have or provide information about our present experiences. Often serious ailments are discovered when we are quiet enough to listen to the body, or if we do not listen, the messages and sensations become more and more severe until we can no longer ignore them.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and author, urges us to be aware of what we take into the body. What we eat, see, listen to and indulge in are all ways that we “feed” ourselves. Watching certain TV shows can make us feel weighed down, just as eating a bag of potato chips can. Fighting, reading negative stories in newspapers and listening to music that irritates our soul can all have an impact on us. It is probably not necessary to cut off all of these things entirely, but it is important to be aware of how they affect us and when we need to back away from them.
1 Take an inventory of what you “feed” yourself everyday. Notice the quality of food that you feed your body, the conversations you have, and the messages that you listen to on TV, the radio or online. Take a good look at what you are influenced by day in and day out.
2 Ask yourself how you are being affected by your daily diet of food, conversation and messages. Are there things that you would like to stop “feeding” yourself, but are addicted to? Are there things you could incorporate into your life that would make you feel lighter? What can you do to take back a little control?
3 Listen to your body. Check in with it during the day. Notice the sensations you have, the aches and pains and the places of ease. Ask your body what it is trying to communicate to you.
Rejuvenation begins with attention to our whole selves. How are you setting the stage for this process to begin inside of you? How can you “feed” yourself to build a strong foundation for growth?
The Spirit of Therapy
Where psychotherapy interacts with our mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and relational wellbeing.