There is a popular saying in the world of spirituality that individuals use to remind others and themselves to take care of their whole selves. To heed the advice of the saying ‘Take care of your mind, body, and soul every day‘ is inevitably a smart thing to do, but rarely do we think about who or what part of ourselves is tasked with the caretaking role.
Is it the job of the mind, body, or soul to determine what activities will keep the various dimensions of ourselves healthy and happy? Is it a combination of these things? Or is it something different altogether? Additionally, we must also wonder who or what has the decision-making power to follow through on the actions we deem beneficial for the mind, body, and soul.
By first exploring the various parts of one’s self, we can come to better understand the relationship between these three distinctive personal components. Once we discover where care-taking decisions are made, each of us will then be better prepared to take actions that produce greater levels of happiness, success, and fulfillment. By sticking to a logical mind, body, and soul care-taking plan, it is inevitable that each of us can enjoy greater personal well-being.
Examining the Mind, Body, and Soul:
To determine who or what is tasked with the care-taking responsibilities of the mind, body, and soul, we will first need to individually examine the parts of the self. There is great debate throughout the world as to what these personal components entail, or if they exist at all, and while we will soon call upon wisdom from the religion of Hinduism, we will start our exploration from a Western point-of-view. It should be noted that while the mind and body will be a bit simpler to dissect from a quantifiable scientific perspective, we will have to turn to the religion of Christianity to gain an understanding of how many Westerners think about the soul.
It is believed that the mind is made up of the mental activities that originate from the human brain, which is considered to be a physical organ and part of the body. It is easy to recognize cognitive processes taking place in our heads, and your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions would be considered workings of the mind. The mind is additionally tasked with perceiving the world and making judgments, both of which are affected by our brain’s ability to store memories of past life experiences. Scientifically speaking, another important component of the ‘mind’ is consciousness, or one’s ability to subjective experience the world and make meaning of it, yet the field’s foremost leaders are unsure of what it is and what its purpose may be. They have come to realize, however, that there are different levels of consciousness in the mind which many describe as the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious.
For the purposes of this article, the easiest individual human aspect to define is the physical body which is made of seemingly solid matter. There are a wide variety of bodily systems and psychical organs that allow us to move around and operate in the world around us. As modern science has made advancements in the fields of medicine and technology, new knowledge of how bodily components work together has been uncovered, and enhanced care-taking strategies have emerged.
Additionally, it should be noted that while we naturally perceive our bodies as solid structures, this may not be entirely true. Today, many believe that the body is actually made up of microscopic bits of energy that move together in a synchronized way. Yet still, regardless of the body’s level of solidity, it would be hardest to say that the physical body alone has been tasked with the mind, body, and soul care-taking role.
Due to the fact that scientists, who are solely concerned with quantifiable evidence, will be quick to dismiss the notion of there being a soul, we will have to turn to the religion of Christianity to increase our understanding of how the majority of Westerns think about the spiritual aspects of one’s self. Like many religions that believe in a spiritual dimension of individuals, Christians consider the immaterial soul to be who individuals actually are at a deeper level when compared to the mind and body. Christians believe that the soul plays an important role in individuals’ conscience, will, life purpose, and the voice we hear in our hearts. It should be pointed out that while Christians think of individuals as actually being their souls, they also believe that there is a spirit within each of us that is directly connected to God. This spirit is said to be an unqualified presence that forever remains eternal and one with God.
Even with this understanding of the mind, body, and soul, it still remains unclear which part of the self is tasked with the caretaking role. By exploring a key distinction between Western and Eastern ways-of-thinkings, however, we may soon realize that another part of ourselves, one that is typically sidestepped by scientific thinkers in the West, may hold the answer to our primary question.
The Indescribable Quality of Consciousness:
It was in 1994 at the University of Arizona’s Towards a Science of Consciousness conference when a young Australian philosopher named David Chalmers changed the landscape of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy forever. Chalmers’s main message was that there is a ‘Hard Problem‘ with being able to explain consciousness, or one’s ability to experience life subjectively while being aware of themselves and the world around them. In his 1997 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Chalmers writes of consciousness:
The subject matter is perhaps best characterized as ‘the subjective quality of experience.’ When we perceive, think, and act, there is a whir of causation and information processing, but this processing does not usually go on in the dark. There is also an internal aspect; there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent. This internal aspect is conscious experience.”
It is because the personal quality of consciousness is so utterly hard to describe quantifiably that many scientific thinkers continue to bypass the subject. While we all know what it’s like to feel an emotion, entertain a mental thought, and be awed by a vivid landscape, it remains a mystery as to what this part of one’s self actually is and what its purpose may be.
In stark contrast to the scientific notion that consciousness is nothing more than yet to be discovered function of the human brain, the religion of Hinduism sees it quite differently. For Hindus, consciousness is not just another mysterious brain function, but it is the forever eternal part of the self that is directly related to God. It is for this reason that Hindu spiritual seekers aim to raise their levels of consciousness and move closer to God, through the practice of meditation.
Before we move on to exploring the idea that consciousness is the part of ourselves that is tasked with caring for the mind, body, and soul, it will be beneficial to briefly discuss how Hindus view the quality of consciousness and the world at large.
According to Hindu scriptures, there is an all-encompassing God-like source called Brahman that is thought of as being indescribable because he, she, or it is believed to be infinite consciousness. In the estimation of Hindu seers, Brahman is not only the creator of the cosmos and universe, but also is the cosmos, universe, and everything found within it. This means that within you is a part of Brahman which Hindus call the Atman or Soul, and the primary goal of all Hindus is to return their Atman to Brahman, which can only be done by reaching a state of unwavering pure consciousness. It is interesting to note that this Hindu idea of Brahman and Atman isn’t all that far off from the previously mention Christian notion of a God and Spirit.
Consciously Caring for Your Mind, Body, and Soul:
Due to the sheer power of the brain, and the processes that make up the mind, humans naturally become conditioned to think, behave, act, and respond in a seemingly endless variety of ways. Unfortunately, it’s almost certain that throughout one’s life, if they don’t take particular measures, they will become unmindful of their state and begin operating as an almost preprogrammed robot. They’ll come to falsely associate themselves as being their thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, and base their actions on the automatic thoughts in their head. If individuals really are these components, however, they would be able to definitely answer this question:
Who or what part of one’s self has the ability to objectively watch as cognitive and emotional processes play out?
The answer to this question is obviously consciousness, and it is from this place that we want to care for our minds, bodies, and souls. It is unimportant to consider if the illusive state is actually the soul, or a direct revelation of God, because it is from this place alone that we can determine strategies and actions that will produce the greatest levels of personal well-being. Only by getting in touch with the silent witness within, will you be able to properly tend to the mind, body, and soul.
As mystical Hindu sages have told us for centuries, each and every one of us can do this by undertaking a meditation practice. By sitting in a state of heightened awareness on a regular basis, we can begin living with an increased level of consciousness. When you add persistence, determination, and knowledge to the mix, each of us can eventually get to a place where we are able to step outside of ourselves and objectively examine the mind, watch our behaviors, and listen to our hearts. Furthermore, it is from this watchful place that one is able to creatively think of care-taking strategies and motivate themselves to take the actions that produce bountiful results. When you are able to do this, harmonious health will be yours. Take it from the great Hindu yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar:
Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”
Conscious Care-Taking Strategies:
To begin consciously taking care of your mind, body, and soul, you should make an unwavering commitment to meditation practice and prioritize it over all other care-taking strategies. Depending on your religious beliefs, previous practice experience, and current lifestyle, you may need to do some research to determine what technique is more suitable for you. While the majority of Hindu meditation practices are religious in nature, there are a variety of secular techniques that can be practiced without any religious significance at all. Recently in the United States, for example, the practice of Mindfulness Meditation has grown immensely popular and the technique’s desired state is one of heightened conscious awareness.
Beyond undertaking meditative practices, there are a number of useful strategies for the aspects of the mind, body, and soul that you can begin incorporating into your life. It is important to point out that in both the worlds of spirituality and psychology, it is now widely believed that there is a mind-body connection that has a corresponding effect. This means that when you consciously care for your mind, both your body and soul will enjoy the beneficial effects of that action. Now, let’s look at a few strategies for the mind, body, and soul individually:
Consciously Caring for Your Mind:
- Commit Yourself to Lifelong Learning: One of the most important care-taking strategies for the mind is committing one’s self to the habit of lifelong learning. It is certain that the practice of continuously expanding your knowledge base, in both familiar and unfamiliar subjects, will have a profoundly positive effect on your cognitive well-being. Just by making the commitment to learn something new by reading a few pages each day, you will be able to keep your mind sharp and healthy.
- Ask Yourself Conscious Questions Each Day: There are a seemingly endless variety of topics that we can consciously bring up and analytically explore. To care for the mind, you may want to start asking yourself daily conscious questions that are designed to change your limiting beliefs, challenge your misperceptions, and increase the levels of fulfillment you enjoy. A few examples of these questions may be ‘What am I grateful for?‘, ‘What am I excited about in my life?’, and ‘Why is it important for me to offer compassion to all?’. You can start the process by asking yourself one conscious question in the morning and one in the evening that you analytically explore for a few minutes at a time.
Consciously Caring for Your Body:
- Improve Your Diet and Get Physically Active: Just as the body was the easiest personal aspect to describe, it is also the easiest aspect to give sound care-taking advice for. It is widely known that by equally committing one’s self to a healthy diet and exercise habits, individuals can enjoy the benefits that come from a healthy body. You can best care for your body by reducing your intake of unwholesome foods, increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables, and finding physical fitness activities that you wholeheartedly enjoy.
Consciously Caring for Your Soul:
- Spend Time in Nature: Beyond the practice of meditation, one soul care-taking strategy that you may want to employ is to spend time in nature. Each and every time that you sit by a river, hike in a forest or relax on a secluded beach, you’ll leave the experience feeling rejuvenated. Additionally, you’ll discover that spending time in nature makes you feel more connected to others and the world at large.
- Spend Additional Time with Loved Ones Another care-taking strategy for the soul is to spend more time with those that you love. While leaders in the fields of spirituality and psychology won’t agree on everything, they all understand that relationships are vitally important for our personal well-being. By making a point to spend additional time with your family and close friends, you’ll feel a sense of connected importance that can’t be replicated.
You should now know that the true and lasting levels of happiness, success, and fulfillment that you seek can only be obtained by consciously taking care of your mind, body, and soul. By using meditation to explore your deepest nature of pure consciousness and making the commitment to tend to your mind, body, and soul from this level, you’ll be on your way to maximizing your levels of life satisfaction and personal well-being.