Reflections on What “Being” is: the Mind, the Body and the Soul
These last years, I have gained new perspectives about myself by paying more attention to my mind, my body and my spirituality. Looking back, I notice how my life has been shaped by new habits such as meditation, yoga, a healthy diet, following my heart, healing and other self-care practices which have all helped me to better sense how my mind-body-soul are interconnected. Most of this connection happens subtly and the more I worked on consciously experiencing those 3 integral parts of my being, the more I could sense their distinct qualities in my life. Still, experiencing our daily imbalances or wellbeing isn’t the only driver for our personal growth. Knowledge is another essential ingredient that ensures we interpret our experiences in the right way and choose the right life habits. I find it particularly interesting to keep learning more about what defines me as a human being. Based on my personal experience and some of my learning, I will give it a try at unveiling the beautiful connections behind our being as a Mind, Body and Soul.
Let’s begin by taking a look at how these 3 constituent parts shape us.
OUR MIND is probably the part of our being that we are the most familiar with. Yet, many of us still misunderstand it. The simplest way to describe our mind is as an unstoppable train of thoughts. Ask yourself: Have you ever found yourself not thinking? Your answer will most probably be no, otherwise you would experience not being. As Descartes used to say: “I think; therefore I am”. It seems natural to say that we are what we think. If we look closer, our thoughts are the easiest thing we possess to identify ourselves with as we perceive the world and our experiences through them. However, we can’t dismiss the fact that thoughts are also very impermanent by nature. New thoughts come and go at the speed of light making our memories and ideas of self vulnerable to change. Thus, having a mind comes with great responsibility. The way we use our mind will dictate how peaceful we are. I like to imagine our thoughts as the water flowing when we look at a stream. Its natural path should be to find its way down to the peace and stillness of a lake. Instead, people’s mind seems to stick upstream, engaged and flowing in full disturbance. If we have a conscious look at our thought patterns, we can easily spot how we all have mental habits that disturb weighing on our life choices and actions.
In our process of experiencing our mental being, some of us opt a protective position and limit themselves from wandering too far into the unknown or embracing too much change in their mental life. In most of these cases, we lead ourselves to get stuck in the same loops of thinking passed down through education and our mind develops rigidity and laziness. Our mind orbits around an unchallenged persona. On the other spectrum, we can also fool ourselves by spending too much time in our dreams and our world of ideas. In that case, our mind gets trapped in limbo. We seem lost in an infinite space of possibilities. We are a persona waving in a sea of confusion. I found useful to become aware of which of those two extremes our mind tends to lean towards.
An amazing fact about our mind is that only 5% of our thought process is conscious. The other 95% is hidden in our subconscious mind. This means that we have two different minds working in parallel. Our subconscious is developed during our young age based on our education and the environment we grow in. Even if unconscious, these thought patterns are fundamental in our everyday life: coordinating our body without conscious thinking, sensing the environment without our permission and perceiving reality effortlessly. When we reach adulthood, our subconscious starts to settle and it becomes more difficult to rectify or learn new unconscious patterns. This simple fact makes us question our experience of free will. Are we in control of our life or living an illusion conditioned by our subconscious mind? What if our subconscious is full of unhealthy thought patterns? Let’s find out.
Scientists have identified 6 types of brainwaves and associated each one of them to a specific state of mind. When our brain is on low frequencies such as in deep sleep (Delta waves) or deep relaxation (Theta waves), our mind is capable of slowing down our conscious powerhouse and tap into our subconscious mind. It has been proven that fostering more moments of low brain frequency in our daily life is the key for us to rewrite old thought patterns and incorporate new learning into our subconscious mind. So yes, we can still stir the wheel of our life even if 95% of our thinking is unconscious. However, for this to happen, it is fundamental for us to cultivate awareness of our mind, be determined about the change we need to make and give our brain more opportunity to enter states of relaxation. However, our stimulating and stressful environment seems to make this a hard challenge. We often live in a “fight or flight” mode with our mind engaged in constant high frequencies (Beta waves) which, most of the time is related to a situation of stress, fear and anxiety. On these high frequencies, our mind accelerates and produces unsynchronised waves that are associated with quick reactions to the environment. As we get used to spending most of our time on Beta brainwaves it becomes difficult and even unknown for us to find calm. If we want to save energy and gain control over our mental health we need to promote more quality breaks through meditation, better sleep habits, breathing exercises, creativity exercises, etc. This creates space for our mind to relax, quiet down and to unveil our mental illusions or disturbance.
One of the most common reasons for mental suffering or disturbance is our mental ability of time travelling. The human mind is particularly good at projecting itself into subjective memories or future expected ideas. This mental exercise can be a great tool to help us lead our modern day-to-day. However, when abused with a lack of awareness, this mental ability can steal our presence from us. We start to distort our reality based on a never happened past or a never existing future. It is important to understand that our mind creates our identity around our ego. This ego travels in time to find the answers that prove the story we want to tell ourselves, even if they are right or wrong. The less time we spend travelling in our minds the more we are in the NOW and enjoy the lightness of simply “being”, detached from our demanding ego. If you look closer we can understand that regrets and fears of the future can’t exist when we experience the present moment. How would you qualify your state of mind when you look at the sunset? What if you could extend the quality of that present moment throughout your day? This experience can be a reason for a personal mindful quest to begin.
Our BODY. After a being of thoughts, we are a being of physical matter confined in a universe of time and space. In this universe, all living organic matter has been evolving in a slow but steady pace, expanding and finding its ways to grow into more intelligent and complex organisms. We can look at our own human body as the ultimate result of this long process. Through our body, we can say we exist and therefore enjoy the most amazing experience of being alive. To understand who we are as a body, I found profoundly useful to drive my curiosity towards the inner works of my body as well as to keep an eye on the impact that my day-to-day habits have.
This last year, I have completely changed my perception of my body by zooming in and discovering how complex and beautiful our body is. Based on Bruce Lipton life research, The Biology of Belief, I believe that the real secrets of our body hide behind the life of our cells. Indeed, cells are the first living organism on Earth. Although simple organisms, all life derived from them. The first existing cells found better ways to survive by bundling in communities rather than staying alone. This cohesion was a big step for life itself as it gave rise to multicellular living beings and created a new window of possibilities for life to shape itself. Multicellular organisms benefit from cells cohesion to become smarter and extend their lifespan. We, humans, much like cells, have also learned together to extend our life expectancy and to pass on our knowledge more efficiently so that we could carry on with our progress. There is no doubt that our body is a multicellular state-of-art. As amazing as it may seem, cells are individual living beings much like ourselves. We share with cells the same fundamental characteristics of movement, breathing, excretion, growth, sensitivity and reproduction. In so many ways humans and cells seem to mirror each other. Because we are made of billions of cells, our body is a bridge between these two worlds. This brings me to the idea that if we want to set the right expectations for our body, we need to appreciate ourselves as a universe of billions of living cells working together. We are responsible for providing the right environment (thoughts, hormones, exercise, rest, etc.) and necessary input (food, water, supplements, etc.) for our billions of cells to flourish. In return, our cells give us the means to be alive and create the life we want for ourselves. In a way, we say that we are their “superior”. Meaning: their purpose or God. But, at the same time, we depend on this universe to enjoy our higher life. Indeed, we are deeply interdependent and we need to learn how to talk to each other through our intimate mechanisms such as feelings and emotions.
Now that I have introduced our body as a vast universe of cells, I would like to explore the forces that can help you gain control and improve the quality of its space. One of the big discoveries in biology in the last centuries is the field of Epigenetics. It explains how our environment plays a huge role in the expression of our DNA in our cells. It’s proven that our genes DO NOT define our health and who we are, but the potential of our cellular expression. Genes are activated or deactivated due to the simple influence of external stimuli. Therefore, our DNA, which is the blueprint for all our cells to function, can be expressed in many different ways. This leads us to believe that we are solely responsible for our physical existence and everything that happens to our body universe. It is clear how: our thoughts, our emotional states, the food we eat, the activities we do, the way we take care of our body and our lifestyle in general dictates our wellbeing and who we are as a body. We absorb all those signals and unconsciously convert them into chemicals, such as hormones, and energy, in the form of an electric pulse through our nervous system which is finally read by our cells.
Did you know that most of your cells have a short lifespan between 2 days to 4 months? Therefore, we are constantly being replaced. What we see as a fix and ageing body is a flow of old cells giving birth to new cells (besides our neurons). This reinforces the idea that it is never too late to take responsibility for our own body. Our new cells react to the signals of our new environment and express themselves as our new “us”. Therefore, it is possible to radically change how our body feels and foster a healthy new body. It doesn’t happen from one day to the other. We need to nurture great natural habits and a routine of self-care. This means that we don’t depend so much on our hereditary genes or our past actions but in the person, we decide to be every day, our most basic habits and our presence with our own body. We should feel responsible not for one mechanic body but a complex organism made of billions of intelligent living beings in constant change. Our body requires attention, a routine of care and a loving connection with ourselves. But how can we communicate with our body universe?
In this subtle universe, it is important to be conscious of the infinite amounts of information our body produces. Information travelling electrically through the nervous system and/or chemically in our blood vessels. Only then can we start to communicate with our own body. All this information helps our body universe to coordinate our different organ systems. We can perceive these inner forces reacting with their environment through sensations, feelings, intuitions or emotions. Unfortunately, most of us undervalue our body’s precious information. For instance, why are we so afraid of our own emotions? Or never follow our gut feeling? The short answer is that it seems easier to get away from what is unknown to us or what the intellect doesn’t find the reasoning for. However, by doing this, we are ignoring a powerful and liberating means of expression. Emotions are an underlying platform that enables us to relate with ourselves or to others more profoundly than any word or idea. We shouldn’t be afraid of asking ourselves: What is that feeling crushing my heart, twisting my throat or tingling in my belly? Is it love, fear, hatred? They can tell us so much about ourselves and our interaction with the world. Most of the time this information will tell us about our body limitations. Nevertheless, these messages can be subtle to perceive. In our quest to discover ourselves and our path to wellbeing, our effort to listen to our body must remain a priority. Self-care is a great way to practice active listening with our body. It starts when we make it a habit to appreciate how our body talks to us in mild symptoms. Unheard for a long period, we are creating the perfect environment for accidents, diseases and negativity. What will work for me might not work for others and vice-versa because each body universe has its bio-individuality. Meaning there isn’t a way around it besides taking our time to listen and testing what works for our own body. If we take this seriously, our awareness will grow and we will feel closer to our sense of being based on self-love. True healing can only come from an open and honest relationship with our body.
As we tap into the importance of self-care, I would like to talk about physical addiction. Physical addiction is one of the biggest signs of imbalance in our body that we need to be aware of. Addiction originates from our basic body mechanism of being stimulated by pleasure and repulsed by pain. Addiction grows in our body when we become dependent on the experience of pleasure derived from a habit to counterbalance body pain. Objectively, our body tends to develop more addictions when we live in a destabilized environment. The logic is simple: someone suffering tends to look for actions/habits to counterbalance the pain with pleasure. However, most of the time pleasure from abusive habits or addictive substances have a bad impact on our body. This creates a vicious cycle where we can get trapped. Therefore, it is important to be conscious of our daily choices and question their physical relevance. We need to distinguish between our good habits, which are necessary to reach a state of balance and harmony with our body, and vicious habits, that pump our energy and make us feel detached from our body. The best way to spot addictive habits is to be aware of our moments of craving. Craving is the main driver of our physical suffering. It is only when we realise the true damage of addiction that we become determined to act. This process shouldn’t stop at the most obvious addictions like smoking or drinking. We need to regularly scan and work across our lifestyle regarding our eating habits, the quality of our sleep, our stress, etc. We can’t forget that addiction can also originate from good habits taken to an extreme. Therefore, we should never feel that we are being too hard with ourselves. We need to feel that we are giving enough time to our body to create its natural path. Let’s promise ourselves to give a better shot at taking care of who we really are: a vast universe of a beautiful life. So that we can truly manifest ourselves as a body.
OUR SOUL has been for thousands of years our last step in our journey to human realization. I think spirituality originates from the perception and feeling that body and mind without Soul lack essence or substance. The first shamans, as well as great spiritual leaders such as Abraham, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus Christ amongst others, were very much aware of it. They made their mission to show and share the beautiful messages hiding behind everyone’s soul. Still, the soul is invisible to our mind and body. It was through stories, human values, rituals and practices that spiritual leaders found a door for the world to get a glimpse into their soul. Followers used those as the foundation to build religion as we know it today. However, it is important to emphasize the fact that everyone’s soul is independent of any religious institution, meaning that everyone is capable of developing its own personal relationship with his soul and spirituality. Although religions carry many imperfections, I believe they have been a great vehicle for spiritual values and ideas to be passed down generations. The key is what we make of those teachings. I truly believe, those values are there for us to question ourselves and reflect on them so that we can create our own relationship with our spirituality.
If our mind and body gain purpose within the manifestation of life, I believe the soul finds its relevance in the idea that there should be something beyond our living experience. How can we know what existing feels like if we haven’t from opposition experienced not existing in the first place? Much like, appreciating the beauty of light without the underlying darkness everywhere. Or sound without a canvas of silence. What would better relate our life to a non-living reality than our Soul? Although we have been driven by desires and needs of understanding what is beyond our body and mind, spirituality tells us how important it is to develop acceptance that there is nothing we can do to grasp the timeless beyond that confine us from above. Similarly, how could our cells come to realise the existence of our human reality and their higher purpose? Nevertheless, we are very much interdependent. This brings me to the idea that spirituality is a conscious attitude of faith allowing us to perceive how connected we are to everything, as everything is to us. As Confucius said: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
So what about questions like: “Where are we going after death?” Or, “where did we come from?” If we look closer, our faith seems to be limited by an attitude of ignorance towards death. In our educational system, we learn to put a blindfold in death. We don’t permit ourselves to face our greatest unknown with curiosity and consciousness. This cultural suppression has a deep impact on our attitude towards life and is the foundation, the seed, for all kinds of subsets of fears. In Tibetan Buddhism, monks prepare their death since they are little kids with practice and knowledge. They embrace the fact that they come to life to die. In eastern societies, we either die never speaking of it or start that conversation when our doctor tells us we are about to die. However, to reach a state of liberation and create peace of mind, it’s fundamental for each one of us to make sense of our own death. This way we are deciding to live in acceptance rather than dragging our life with resistance. So please, let’s allow ourselves to get closer to the idea of death. We should ask ourselves for what purpose are we dying? This question leads us to the profound realization that purpose isn’t there to be found only there to be believed, much like faith. Therefore, one way to tap into our soul is to have faith that we exist for a higher purpose than ourselves.
On top of the idea of faith and purpose, our soul has been associated with the idea of energy or an aura in each living being that connects us to everything. Nevertheless, most of us live a life without perceiving this fine field, just like a fish would find it difficult to perceive the qualities of water as something separable from his environment and himself. This said recent scientific findings have made the amazing discovery that all matter as we know is made of energy and empty space and that everything has its own energy signature or frequency. We all live connected in the same quantum field of energy vibrating in our own special way. Are we in a good or bad frequency? More than energy, the idea of being made of empty space invites our deepest sense of being to realize that emptiness is part of our nature. Our emptiness as human beings is felt sooner or later in everyone’s need to attract purpose in their own life. But what could that ultimate purpose be? Logically, we can only assume that our purpose is to embrace, explore and develop an unbounded connection in our lifetime and between lives. Connection with ourselves and everything in the quantum field. Realising that everything is just part of One. We also owe this purpose to the energy flowing across the field. Therefore, we need to find ways to explore our emptiness and detach ourselves from our ego deeply rooted in our body and mind if we are looking to have a glimpse into our soul.
Last but not least, I would like to explore a bit further the idea that we are made of energy: according to the famous 1st law of thermodynamics, in contained environment energy can’t be created nor destroyed, it is rather in a constant process of transformation. Thus, we can assume that our energy doesn’t get created at our birth nor destroyed at our death but rather gets transformed. This idea can give us more clues about where we came from or where we are going to. Because life also gives us an opportunity to act, it makes us responsible for our own energetic legacy. Naturally, good actions will generate good energy in our lives much like bad actions brings negativity. Buddhism gives the name of Karma to this idea. In some unknown way, our present energy did once belong to something that has passed down its energy to us, much like we are passing ours at our death. Therefore, our life could be the reflection of our energetic past and future. However, we cannot deny that positive doesn’t exist without the negative. We need to learn to live with both to find harmony within ourselves and with others. I believe the concept of soulmate is a beautiful example of this harmony. Your soulmate will be someone who balances your negative traits and you will balance theirs in return. This state of balance is what we can call Love. Our Soul will remain a big mystery, but what would be our lives without mystery to feed our curiosity.
BEING ONE. I am glad that I found the courage to open my eyes and heart to my Mind, my Body and my Soul. I believe we should always feel comfortable to confront our inner-self with big questions so that we can be more conscious of who we are in our daily lives. Clearly, consciousness has been a central piece in my journey to discover my own perception of being. However, I would like to emphasize the dangers of being too absorbed by awareness. One of the downfalls of being conscious is to be single-minded focused and forget to see the thing as a whole. I have decided to look at my sense of being inseparable bits which made my job easier. The great advantage of this approach is that it allows anyone to gain a depth otherwise difficult to grasp about oneself. Although there will never be enough to explain the beauty of our human nature, we should never forget to see our life with more connections. We should avoid being stuck in ideas or perceptions that promote a vision of the world as separate bits, things, events, causes, and effects. As Alan Watts said so well: most of our human minds play a game of White versus Black, Life versus Death, Good versus Bad, and Light versus Darkness fuelled by a reality deeply fragmented by individuality and separability. Outside one’s mind, one cannot go without the other, the game is totally transformed into “Black and White”; “Life and Death”. Indeed, when we look closer to Mind-Body-Soul it is clear how one cannot work without the other. They are so intertwined that their boundaries are elegantly merged in one beautiful being. We are ONE being, inseparable from what makes us from inside, around and above. Discovering our sense of being is discovering that everything dependson connection. As we start to accept the impermanence of our thoughts and discover the importance of giving meaning to death, our perceptions, ideas and sensations change, we discover the magic of tuning-in with lower frequencies and to live in synchronisation with our objective world. Slowly, we are led to realise that all impermanence is underlined by the beautiful permanence of our soul, travelling across everything, everyone and through life itself. We are indeed fully and permanently connected.