Meaning And Purpose In Life – Why You Can’t Be Healthy Without Them
Everybody talks about Complementary and Alternative Medicine in different ways. It seems like we’ve all got our opinions and they are all over the map at times. One “slogan”, if you will, that I see tagged to this type of medicine is the famous “Mind, Body, Spirit” line. I want to delve into the meaning of this because I have patients walking in claiming they want “wellness” throwing around these phrases haphazardly.
The essence of the Mind, Body, Spirit argument hinges on the idea that, in order to be well and whole, we need to be healthy in each of these areas and that each area feeds into the others… engendering more wellness for the entire system. Let’s start with the easy one first – Body.
When it comes to wellness, we all get this level. Stop my cough… help me poop… no more headaches… Since the body is our primary sensory array and, frankly, where we live, it’s easy to see when there’s a problem here. Wanting a healthier, more resilient body is a worthwhile pursuit and most people want this – at least nominally.
The Mind gets a bit more complicated as many people are reluctant to admit they have problems here. There’s a huge stigma on psychological illness and nobody wants to be “crazy”… of course we all are. The Mind is our operating system and it is the interface between who we think we are and our experience of the world. Where these two collide – we have issues. Stress is responsible for 90% of doctor’s visits and so it’s our relationship to stress, the world, our careers, and life itself which can really impact our health. Most people get this on an intellectual level… take some time off… get some sleep… have some fun and take a load off. Controlling our stress response, then, becomes a critical component in our overall wellness.
When we start talking about Spirit, however, is when we lose most people. Most of us in the West have funky notions of Spirit in the first place – many stories tied to far off angelic realms where we get to go if we get good grades and avoid cheating on our spouse…
I’m going to paint this picture slightly differently here. Spirit is our deepest connection with the Source of Who we are and it is our LIFELINE to the life force which animates the other two (Mind and Body). Spirit is the critical piece of the puzzle that gets the whole show on the road. It puts us in line with our Destiny… gives us MEANING and PURPOSE in life. These are the things that animate us and give us Vitality.
I’ll often delve into questions along these lines with patients who are quick to deflect them and insinuate that we should just focus on their stomach issues. Let’s not dig deep – let’s just get a new coat of paint on this sucker and drive off again… no need to look into anything serious. I won’t see these patients because they seldom get better. Unless we’re willing to look into the WHY of a problem, we miss the valuable spiritual lesson that comes with it. Without meaning and purpose in life, what’s the point of getting healthy and staying that way? Really… what’s the point of anything?
Now we understand how people can sit around and eat garbage while playing video games all day. Without the spark of LIFE, the whole wheel of Vitality has no reason to turn. Life becomes a dreary and drab deal with days blending into one-another.
One day we wake up really sick and then we panic… racing to the DOCTOR to fix us. We give away all of our power and go home with bags of chemicals and drugs… all designed to down-regulate, inhibit, or block the natural functions of the body… a Body that is in conflict with itself – with its Mind, and a body that has lost connection to its Spirit.
We then go in for a pedicure in order to make ourselves feel better and are assured that we’re in the right place when there’s a sign in the window that boldly reads “Wellness”…ahh….the Promised Land. I’ll take some cucumber water to wash down this fist full of pills.
About the Author
By Pedram Shojai, Author of Rise and Shine: Awaken Your Energy Body with Taoist Alchemy and Qi Gong
Dr. Pedram Shojai is an ordained Taoist priest and the director of the Taoist Path School of Alchemy. He teaches meditation and Qi Gong to audiences worldwide and has award-winning books and DVDs published on Taoism, Qi Gong, and self-help. He helps students grow in their practice and better themselves through a 100 Day Gong program which has proven to be very helpful. He has created a number of free resources for students which can be found at www.taoistpath.com.