Have you ever wondered why balancing life is so hard? There’s balancing work and play, balancing being a parent and fulfilling your professional dreams, balancing a checkbook (adulting…gasp!).
All this balancing can be a real challenge. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a little hard work, the constant struggle is real for most of us. At the end of the day many of us collapse in bed, hoping to shut our brains down long enough to recharge our bodies, just so we can get up and do it all again the next day.
I got caught up in the rat race so much that I eventually developed breast cancer. I took that as a sign that I needed to slow down and reset some priorities. Like so many, my cancer diagnosis was the wake up call I needed to slow down and pull my head out of my ass.
I thought I was doing well enough to get by. I had no idea the complexities of what it means to be a conscious human. Then one day I was introduced to the idea of the mind/body connection.
The part that hit me square in the chest was the idea that there are four bodies.
Of course there’s the physical body-that we all know because well, we’re here and someday when we die, our physical body goes away. Many believe we have a soul, or spiritual body-that part of us that goes to heaven or hell (or to the next life). Another body-the mental body, has gained some recognition through the idea of mental health and it’s really only looked at when something goes “wrong”. The last body-the emotional body, in my opinion isn’t explored nearly enough. In my experience it’s this body that has the most effect on the mind/body connection.
The cancerous lump I found in my breast was directly over my heart, the thing I was most disconnected from. Before I was diagnosed I had been battling depression and anxiety for many years. I also had lower back problems that sometimes kept me from doing the things I loved doing. According to Dr. John E. Sarno in his book “Healing Back Pain-The mind/body connection” the most common cause of back pain is Tension Myositis Syndrome which is linked to anger and anxiety. I was finally putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Through my research I have found that all these connections could be made by looking at how well my four bodies were being cared for. If you think of each of the bodies I described as legs of a chair it’s easy to see how one “broken” leg can make the whole chair unstable. When another leg “breaks” the stability is decreased even more. If three legs are broken that destroys the chair and it’s no longer usable. For me three of my legs were broken and cancer was about to take out the last.
I couldn’t let that happen. I had two little boys to raise as a single mom. My husband passed away six weeks after I was diagnosed so I couldn’t let my kids go without both parents. Now it was time to pull up my boot straps and start implementing some of the things I had learned from my research (which is always ongoing and part of the process).
Fixing the broken legs of my chair has been easy when I keep it simple by looking at the four bodies. I have found that when I pay attention to each leg every day I find harmony in my life that takes very little effort, as opposed to the constant balancing act I was trying to perform before my life turned upside down.
When you give just a little bit of love to each of the four bodies, they give you tons of love back. So here is how you do that:
Leg #1: Your Spiritual Body
No matter what religion you practice there are ways to feed your spirit. Whatever that looks like for you, give yourself 15-30 minutes a day to focus solely on this body. Some days it may be sitting in meditation, other days it may be going for a walk. Whatever it looks like for you keep your spiritual body in mind as you perform whatever task you’re doing.
Leg #2: Your Mental Body
Our mental state can be improved simply by learning something new. Rather than coming home from a hard days work, where you may have lost the capacity for mental acuity, take 5 minutes to sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing. This will help perk you up so you can take 30 minutes to read a book or some other form of literature to get your mental juices flowing. Things that are learned over time, say 30 minutes a day, have been found to stick with us a little more than cramming it all in at once.
Leg #3: Your Emotional Body
Getting in touch with your emotions and allowing them to have a voice can help you become more emotionally intelligent. Feel whatever you’re feeling in any given moment. You don’t have to act on that feeling unless you choose to. I like to use the S.T.O.M.P. method when I’m starting to feel upset, flustered or overwhelmed. Yes, there are negative emotions, and it’s the negative emotions that then to lead us to make disempowering choices. The S.T.O.M.P. method is really easy. S-stop what you’re doing, T-take a few deep breaths, O-observe your body, your thoughts, your emotions, M-make a mental picture of how you want to be, P-proceed consciously. If proceeding consciously means you go beat up on some pillows for five minutes then go do it. The emotion obviously needs to be released.
Leg #4: Your Physical Body
This one we all know how to care for, we just don’t always make the healthiest choices. Eating clean and healthy, little to no packaged foods and moving your body, whatever that looks like for you, are the easiest ways to care for our physical bodies. Things like rest are important too. I like to take a nice hot bath with epsom sale, essential oils and crystals once a week to show all my bodies some love.
When you make the legs of your chair stable you can count on that chair to be there every time you sit down. It doesn’t have to be a big production to put some little things into practice. Jeff Olson explains it well in his book “The Slight Edge” when he says that little practices over time yield the biggest results.
It’s all about the baby steps.
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