Body and Soul

Body, Mind, Heart and Soul, these were the words that piqued my interest today. I am currently going through a healing process and it has become clear to me how intertwined and dependent these four terms can be.

Let’s start with body. When we are not feeling well, when we have gone through a trauma, when our body needs to be healed, we go to a doctor. They diagnose the problem, assign a regimen of medication, maybe therapy or in some cases, a surgery. The medication assists our body in healing itself. Therapy or surgery, actually repair the damage and begin the process of healing. This is a physical process and in most cases the first place our system looks for the fix. But what if this is not the only issue or possible only a symptom of the real problem.

We might need to consider the mind. The body often can’t heal completely without the healing of the mind. The mind may be causing us to deal with anxiety. “What if I can’t get better?” is the question we begin to want answered. If I want a complete recover, I need to be ready in my mind to deal with the process. Sometimes, there is no true physical issue. The phrase “all in your head” comes to mind. It is true that the perception of pain is in fact all in my head. The pain is real, but it is the mind that interprets the inputs coming from the source of that pain. At other times, the issue is not physical pain, but emotional stress, possibly to the point of depression. If the mind is to be healed, we may need the help of a professional or at least the ear of someone willing to listen and help us confront the source of that anxiety. Just as we can heal the body, so can we heal the mind.

Enter the heart. In this setting I am not talking about the heart as an organ. That would include it in the discussion of the body. I am referring to the heart as the repository of our emotions. If we have suffered a loss, we could be suffering from a broken heart. Not a heart that isn’t functioning but rather a heart that has suffered a loss too big to ignore. At times we may be walking around feeling like there is a figurative hole in our heart. The heart may be the hardest to heal. It unfortunately, at the very least, takes time. Sometimes it requires that we must find a reason to move on. We cannot replace what we lost but we can use the memories to help us find the strength to move on.

And then there is the soul. To talk about healing the soul, we must first understand what it is. The soul is the essence of who we are and who we are meant to be. It is not a physical organ. We don’t know where in the body it resides. We feel it rather than see it. We use the term, “nourish the soul”, but what do we feed the soul. I believe we feed it a dose of purpose, faith and positive thoughts. Stress, lack of faith in people or processes, hopelessness and negative thoughts or behaviors, diminish the soul.

I began this piece with the statement that these four concepts were intertwined. That to truly heal, the prescription must treat all four. To focus on one and ignore the rest, leaves us only partially healed and vulnerable to a relapse. If we are to heal the body, we must heal the mind, heart and soul as well. The prescription must include the medication or repair that the body needs, the help necessary to calm the mind and then restore it to full function, the time needed and a reason for the heart to carry on, and finally, attention to the soul to restore our purpose and provide the nourishment to strengthen us for the process. Just as the doctor will recommend a regiment of medication for the body, knowledge and understanding of the healing process, including the time needed and the ups and downs that will inevitably occur, will help to mend the mind. For the heart, the prescription must include a positive attitude, the opportunity to both face and deal with the healing and strong belief that the people around us truly care and hope for our complete healing. As to the soul, we need to want to heal. We must restore our soul to the strength it will need to regain who we were meant to be and the reason to heal.

I have, over the past several weeks, experienced healing of body, mind, heart and soul. The surgeon fixed the worn out knee while the nurses and physical therapists helped me regain my mobility. Through the early stages of the recover, I fought with the anxiety of sleepless nights, recovery that seemed too slow and the stress of fighting through the pain. The physical therapists were there to encourage me and to calm my anxiety when it would block my ability to heal. My heart was dealing with the loss of my independence and mobility, but my friends and family, and especially my wife were there to listen and remind me that they cared. Their concern reminded me I was never alone and that I could feed on that concern to find the strength to keep working toward my recovery. As to my soul, it never left me. I knew the road ahead when I had made the decision to have the surgery. Each and every person who became a part of the healing strengthened my soul to regain what I had been losing; the positive attitude that had existed before the pain had begun to diminish it.

At sometime, we all face the need to heal. When it is the body only, the process is faith in the diagnosis. But never lose sight of the other three; mind, heart and soul. Each can be dealt with alone or addressed as a group. But in any case, we don’t really need to nor do we accomplish the healing alone. Remember that the people around us are the prescription we need to complete the healing.

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