The Mind Body Balance

Although we think of ourselves as ourselves, our ‘selves’ are actually an amalgam of disparate psychologies. Buddhism breaks these aggregates into three categories, each having developed at different stages in the development of our race, and each with its own understanding, needs and language. Each can be segmented into two parts.

In the following text BODY refers to physical elements of experience, both our reptilian mind and also to the structures we create to supply basic needs and protection. HEART refers to both the energetic and emotional aspect of experience. Its energetic aspect refers to the basic sense of feeling itself, our life force and is the inner aspect of the body. The emotive aspect of the heart is sometimes seen as our childlike mind, but also our ancient animal wisdom. It relates to the lower, sometimes obscured, parts of our psychology. MIND refers to the cognitive reasoning aspect and is differentiated from the fully integrated mind of awakening referred to in Buddhism as BODHICITTA, or the awakened heart / mind.

These three aggregates combine to relate to our LIFE which is the unfolding or manifesting of our alignment. If body, heart and mind are aligned then life unfolds with clarity and purpose. If they are out of balance, there is no clarity and we are disconnected from life.

If any of these spheres is subjugated, it will surreptitiously influence the system, throwing us energetically out of alignment.  This will manifest in our lives accordingly. If we deny the body adequate exercise, sleep and nutrition, we will not have the energy or focus to have the world work for us. Similarly, if we shut out the emotions, they will end up motivating behaviors in contradiction to our intentions. For instance, if we find less emotional sustenance from life, it could be because we are inwardly denying ourselves. If we have less energy in life, it may be because we are denying the body its needs. In any case, disparities of body, heart and mind create drags on the inner system that result in resistance from our world. We are mis-aligned and therefore out of synch with the world.

The antidote is to regain balance and resynchronize. Simple. Or, at least simpler than we think. (But, one might say, everything is simpler than we think.)

Sounds good, huh? But, what does it mean?

The practice is not to think about meditation, but to do it. To feel it. To experience it. To train the body to remain open and aligned so the heart can feel and the mind can see. In this way, we are creating the support for a healthy and balanced mind.  We are also setting up the template for how we can approach our lives. We don’t have to think about our lives. We can live them. We can actually embody our life.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche likes to say that if we are working with the mind, but have not aligned the body, it is like putting on clean clothes without having taken a shower. The clean clothes actually feel worse on a soiled body. He goes on to say that trying to calm our thinking in meditation without settling body and emotions is like escorting drunks from your party, but leaving the back door open, music playing and all your booze out on the kitchen table.

On the other hand, if we become aware of our body, heart and mental alignment, we can gain mastery over our actions and regain authority in our lives.  So, integrated meditation practice can be seen as training in being fully present in our life. Each time we return to the posture, we are encouraging confidence. Each time we open the heart, we are developing compassion. Each time we bring the mind to rest in its present sense, we regain authority in our life.

By Joseph Mauricio