People thrive when they are connected. As social creatures, humans want to be a part of the world around them. They want to make friends, build communities, and even find love interests. But what about feeling connected to oneself?
The body, soul, and mind come together to form a network of personal interconnection. They work alongside one another to help people feel connected to themselves. These three elements help you to devise, plan, and achieve wants and needs. But, what exactly are the mind, soul, and body? And what can you do to keep them balanced?
Mind, Soul, and Body Definitions
When mind, body, and soul are balanced and healthy, you are more likely to feel in harmony with yourself and your goals. These three elements are related but also remain distinct from one another. Each has a unique identity.
The mind is a person's conscious self. The mind allows us to be aware of our internal and external surroundings. And because each mind is unique, people experience these elements subjectively.
The mind allows us to have a sense of self and a point of view. In addition, it's what gives us free will, a sense of morality, and the ability to contemplate thoughts and actions. It's responsible for your thoughts and feelings. The mind is the voice in your head that narrates what you're doing throughout the day. It is what cheers you on as you near the end of a difficult workout.
The soul is also an intangible aspect of who we are. Although scientists have searched for proof of its existence for centuries, they have found no physical markers. In addition, psychologists have not come to a consensus regarding the definition of the soul.
Many definitions of the soul involve aspects of spirituality and philosophy. It has also been described as a source of internal energy and connection. Many people believe that the soul is immortal, and that death is simply a stage when it leaves the body. The soul is said to be the essence of humans. It's such an important quality that humans would not be able to exist without it.
Most of us already have a pretty good sense of what the body is. You're probably using parts of your body (your eyes, your hands or your ears) to read this article right now. But if you're looking for a formal definition, the body is "the entire physical structure of an organism," according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
The body includes your head and your toes and everything in between. It also includes all the different systems that work together to keep your body alive, such as the cardiovascular system, which keeps your heart pumping, and your digestive system, which is responsible for your gut health.
The Mind, Body, and Soul Connection
Although scientists are still in search of physical proof for both the mind and soul, most agree that these elements are not only connected to each other but are connected to the body as well. Together, all three elements make up one of the most fascinating creatures on Earth-- humans. But how exactly are they connected?
Let's break it down. Many scientists believe that the mind is located inside the brain. In turn, the brain is located inside the body. And, finally, the body is what encompasses the soul, the true essence of mankind.
Although these elements have unique properties, they are all linked and interconnected connected. You might imagine the mind, body, and soul as Russian nesting dolls. Each houses another inside itself.
How (and Why) to Balance Mind, Body, and Soul
Have you ever felt a bit off? Perhaps you didn't feel quite like yourself? Maybe it only lasted a day or two, or maybe it stuck around for a bit longer. Some people believe that this sensation occurs because the connection between the mind, body, and soul has been disrupted. The result is that you feel off balance.
The body is filled with hormones and neurotransmitters that are involved in signals sent to the brain, to the body, and back to the brain again. These signals affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Sometimes hormones can get thrown off, and it feels as if the mind, body, and soul aren't working together as they usually do. This feeling usually doesn't last forever, but it can make day-to-day activities difficult. Or, at least different.
What can people do to strengthen the balance between mind, body, and soul? There are a different ways to enhance the connection to all parts of your being. And, if you already feel connected, they might be able to help strengthen that bond.
To be mindful means to be aware of how you feel and what is happening around you. It means to be fully present in what you do, where you are, and with whoever is around you. It requires give your attention fully to the moment at hand. When you are truly invested and devoted, you're better able to fully engage in life's experiences and maybe even expand your wisdom and understanding.
There isn't just one way to be mindful. Some mindful practices to try include:
- Put your phone away when you spend time with others.
- Really listen to what others say in conversations and respond thoughtfully after careful consideration.
- Remind yourself that the task you are currently doing is the only task you need to focus on.
- Turn off the TV when you eat dinner or any other meal
Start a Meditation Practice
Meditation is a practice that requires you to silence your mind and be fully present in the moment. In meditation practice, people usually bring their attention to their breath, the floor in front of them, or the sensations in their bodies. Research has discovered that meditation can reduce stress, increase energy, and even reduce physical and psychological pain in the body and mind. It connects you to your body through awareness. Some meditations to try are:
- Body scan - In a body scan practice, you give your full attention to your body and any feelings or sensations that you notice. You can practice it in a seated position or lying down. Start at one end of your body, such as your feet, and work your way up. Check in with your legs, stomach, and back, and work your way up toward your head. Try not to judge the sensations. Just notice them.
- Loving-kindness - Loving-kindness is a great exercise if you want to feel extra love, or spread extra love. You can lie down or practice in a chair. Think about somebody that makes you happy. It can be a friend, family member, or even a pet. Notice the sensations you feel in your body. Can you feel a sense of happiness? After you allow yourself to take in the joy, send it out to others. Think of people in your life to whom you want to send joy. Imagine it radiating out of you. Notice how you feel afterward.
- Mindful walk - Meditation doesn't always mean that you have to sit in one place. Take a mindful walk. Focus on the nature around you. Notice what you see, hear, and feel. Take in the wind on your face and the way the trees sway. Try not to judge or label what you see, just give it your attention.
Have you ever felt like you were overwhelmed and then just took a deep breath? If so, that's breathwork, and you're already on the right path to becoming a pro. When you focus on the breath, it helps quiet the mind because all of your attention is on the fact that you are breathing and the sensations of your breath. Research has found that breathwork can slow heart rate, increase relaxation, and even reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
- Belly breathing. Place your hands on your lower belly. Then, take a deep breath in. Can you feel your belly rise? Or do you feel your breath more in your upper chest? Try to deepen your breath so that the air fills your lower belly. Practice this style of breathwork whenever you want to connect to your body or feel a sense of calm.
- Box breathing. Breathe in to the count of four, then hold your breath for the count of four. Next, breathe out to the count of four, then hold for the count of four. Repeat the process as long as you need. Notice any changes in your breath and in your body.
- Three deep breaths. Breathe in fully and exhale completely. Do this three times whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed. If you don't feel more grounded after three breaths, take a few more. See how your body feels and listen to what you need.
Take Up Yoga
When you put breathwork, meditation, and movement together, you get yoga. Not only is it a way to connect your body to your breath and focus the mind, but it has many health benefits. Research has shown that yoga can boost your mood and increase your energy levels, as well as reduce stress and pain throughout the body. Try a yoga flow at home or sign up for a class in person.
Give Back to Your Community
You probably know that volunteering can help your community. However, did you know that it can also improve your mental and physical health? Research shows that when a person volunteers, they improve their life satisfaction and overall social well-being. So, you can get involved with a cause you care about, and also experience some benefits yourself. Not only will it put you in contact with like-minded individuals, but it will help you develop a stronger sense of community.
Embrace Social Relationships
Humans rely on one another for support, comfort, and kindness. Having friends, family, and people you care about in your life has been found to reduce feelings of depression and isolation. Also, it can even help you live longer. Surround yourself with people that make you happy. Get coffee with an old friend. Invite your relatives over for dinner, or host a virtual meeting. Whatever you do, nourish your social connections.
Connect to Nature
People often say that nature helps them connect to their spirituality. Whether it's the smell of fresh air, or the peace and quiet, it can bring a sense of calm and improve a person's overall well-being. No, you don't have to pack up your sleeping bag and tent and head out on a full-on camping trip. There are simple ways to connect with nature, including::
- Laying down in the grass
- Listening to the birds chirp outside your window
- Soaking up some sun
- Starting a garden
- Taking a walk in the park
- Taking off your shoes and let your feet feel the earth
Gratitude is the practice of appreciation. To practice gratitude, think about the things that you appreciate having in your life. For example, you might enjoy close friendships or a safe home.
The next step is to show your appreciation. This can be as simple as calling your friends on the phone. Interestingly, research shows that writing a gratitude letter to someone can increase your happiness and well-being for up to a month.
Some ways to practice gratitude are:
- Reflect on the good things in your life and the challenges you overcame to get there.
- Savor the good things whenever you get the chance and let yourself fully enjoy them.
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Tell your loved ones that you appreciate them, either in person, over the phone, or in a letter.
- Write down five things you are grateful for at the end of every day.
Self-care is an important part of wellness. It is the time and energy you put into taking care of both your mental and physical health. Self-care practices look a little different for each person based on their wants and needs.
What do you like to do to relax? Do you allow yourself to do at least one of those activities a week? Plan these activities in your schedule. Think about them as priorities since they improve your overall well-being. People often feel guilty when they take time for themselves, but you shouldn't. You can't be your best self if you don't feel like you're your best self. Some ways to practice self-care are:
- Make sure you are getting enough rest at night.
- Put on a facemask.
- Set boundaries in your relationships.
- Run a bath and fully enjoy your soak.
- Take naps whenever you need them.
Find Meaningful Creative Outlets
Do you consider yourself to be a creative person? Maybe you would just like to become more creative? Lean into that creative drive. Creativity can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition, when you create something out of nothing, especially when you feel proud of it, it can be fulfilling.
Some creative activities you might want to try are:
Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a rut? Or that your daily activities didn't seem as fulfilling as they once were? That's normal. People grow and change with time. Their goals and interests change along with them. One way to check in with yourself when you feel stuck or like life has just become too routine is to challenge yourself. Try something new. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Do something unexpected.
Some ways to challenge yourself include:
- Aim for an extra block when you walk around your neighborhood.
- Push yourself to learn something a new word or task every day.
- Read books you've always wanted to (even the ones that are really long and daunting.)
- Try a new hobby.
Humans thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the mind, body, and soul. When these three elements feel connected and strong, they can help you feel your best. And, more importantly, more like yourself.
Find what feels good for you. Try out a few different activities and discover what makes you feel the most grounded and connected. Remember, every person is different. What feeds someone else's soul might not feed yours. And that's okay. Focus on your needs and little by little you may start to feel your mind, body, and soul connection begin to grow.