The Samaritan Way

Mind, Body, Spirit

A holistic view of health is something we have all become comfortable with. We like to think that we take care of different parts of ourselves when we exercise our bodies, hang out with our friends, buy food at the local markets, sleep well, limit alcohol intake (just enough that's good for our heart!), see our doctor once a year for our physical, and pop a few vitamins for good measure. And we are taking care of ourselves. But some of us think less about the health of our brain, or our spirit, if we want to call it that, or even, our mind. We are comfortable enough with ourselves that exploring how and why we do things is not somewhere we really want to go.

So what does it mean if you approach holistic mental health as an integration of your Mind, Body, and Spirit? Are you balanced? Does your mind tell you something different than your heart does, and which do you act on? Does your spirit long for connectedness that your mind tells you to look for in people only and not in God? Does your body interfere with your ability to do the things you want, even when these are in the glory of God?

New brain imaging research has shown that thoughts, feelings, and social interactions all impact brain function, in both positive and negative ways. I have had some of these tests, and let me tell you, it's made me rethink this Mind, Body, Spirit interaction. How we live our life matters. Believe it or not, the condition of our soul and the spiritual connections we make has a strong impact on the physiology of the brain. These tests can show that sin (doing things that you know are wrong) disrupts healthy brain function and leads to anxiety, fear, and depression, while living with integrity and having a positive relationship with God and others actually improves brain function. Though if we are honest with ourselves, we know that already. Several research studies have demonstrated that people of faith suffer less from anxiety disorders and depression and they recover 70% faster from these illnesses than those without a strong religious faith. The brain needs a healthy soul, and the soul needs a brain that works right.

The integration of Mind, Body and Spirit is vital. This is a life journey which we are all on, and those of us who have traveled further down this road find ourselves to be happier and healthier – mentally, physically, spiritually than if we have gotten stuck somewhere along the way.