Many view health and fitness with an "accounting" approach... they add up what physically goes in to make sure it physically goes out. This may be effective in weight loss but it will not lead to real fitness. Our fitness is more complex, consisting of mind, body and spirit, each influencing and being influenced by each other. So, to have true fitness, we must enhance each element.
Our minds are where we experience everything physical, mental, emotional and spiritual... the center of our "self" or "soul". This is where we must focus any health and fitness effort. The mind receives input from the body concerning pain, hunger, fatigue, thirst, etc. It also gives input to the body to breathe, run, clap, etc. We're talking about the mind...not the brain, which is just another part of the physical body. The mind operates the active, voluntary functions of the body, and several we're not normally aware of, we can call passive. For example, when we imagine being attacked, our body responds with increased heartbeat, adrenaline, etc. to either fight or run from our imaginary attacker. This is why stress, fear and anxiety, for instance, can be very destructive to our body, though the disease is often rooted in our mental life. Many functions we think of as being body are really mental. Sexual activity is a physical response to a mental process. That's why our libido is non-existent under severe mental stress.
The body is the most temporary and fragile part of our system. It takes about 1/4 of our lives to grow up and then we slowly deteriorate physically. As we discussed, the body receives active and passive signals from the mind. Worry is one of those passive signals that can actually use up our energy without our doing a thing. Yes, it is possible to be worried sick. Mental processes can use up so much energy, the body can't defend against disease. The body can also affect how well the mind works. We've all heard of the studies linking diet to a student's performance. Did you know what you eat and how much you exercise affects your performance at work? Drugs and alcohol definitely affect mental ability. But, did you know poor nutrition can cause depression, anxiety and mood swings? Many people who seem angry, lazy and fearful are really just ill from not caring for their body.
Spirit operates in a place beyond our understanding, so it's the most difficult to comprehend. First, for you skeptics, I'm not going to try to convince you of anything. Just continue ignoring this part of yourself and when you crash, your spirit will lead you to the correct solution. The rest of you already know there is something very real inside you that can't be classified as body or mind. That "spirit" is in touch with a reality beyond us, and gives us clues to unseen things around us. Each of us has a code written into us and recognized as truth whenever we see or hear it affirmed. Concepts larger than us, like honesty, freedom, compassion, all come from our spiritual nature. Our body, when it becomes ill or fatigued, can't sense or respond to our spirit. Our mind, when it's suffering from illness or delusion, can't understand or receive the signals from our spirit, or even acknowledge the existence of our spirit. When we're physically and mentally fit, there is no end to the spiritual dimension of our life.
It could be as simple as a hunch to call someone just at the moment they were thinking of us, or getting a bad "vibe" about someone and then finding out they were going to swindle you. Maybe, against your better judgment, you stood up to a bully or faced down a tyrant boss. How many have put themselves at risk to save others in an emergency? These things deny reason and testify to your spiritual self. Denying your spiritual self has consequences as much or more serious than denying your physical needs. People who carry hatred and resentment deny their spirit forgiveness and weaken their own mental and physical selves. Many mental and physical illnesses have been linked back to people refusing to act justly when their spirit urged them. Your spirit is the most real and permanent part of you and has a profound influence over your mental and physical health.
So...if our health and fitness rely on caring for and enhancing mind, body and spirit, how do we do this? See Enhancing Mind Body Spirit-2
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