Go no quicker than you can.
What is the boundary between the physical, the mental and the spiritual?
We talk like they’re separate things. That we can clearly point to a physical body. We can clearly point to a mind. We can clearly point to a soul.
Our language reinforces the illusion.
But I think we all know that these things aren’t as separate as it’d be convenient to believe.
We know that stress is in the mind, but it has a profound influence on the body.
We know that our bodies are the key to health, but we know when we become sick or run down, it has an unblockable influence on our mental state.
We know that decision making extends throughout the nervous system, with a lot of it happening “in our gut.”
And the soul? Well, who knows where that’s located. Everywhere and nowhere.
But if all the boundaries are fuzzy and leaky, how do we think about caring for ourselves?
I’ve had friends who have had health crises. I’ve lost friends to cancer. I can tell you for sure that it was a full-spectrum experience for them. And I’m not saying that it was a health crisis with mental dimensions. The full stretch of their being was drawn into crisis.
And so we see a doctor for the body. A psychiatrist for the mind. A priest or guru of some sort for the soul.
But it’s one experience.
Same story with mental upheaval. This is something I see more than my fair share of, at varying levels of intensity. I work at a deep level with people’s innermost hopes and aspirations. That work necessarily means coming up against people’s blockages, which themselves are defence mechanisms against deep-seated hurts.
It’s deep work.
And you really get to see the full power of human in this space. Once those defence mechanisms are triggered, they become a force to be reckoned with.
This is something I need to have very clear boundaries around. I need to know the limits of my skills, my availability and time.
And so I’m happy to open doors. I’m happy to share people’s success stories, and share strategies that I’ve seen work – in my own life and in others. And I’m happy to walk alongside someone in their journey.
But I need to remember that it is their journey. They need to do it under their own steam, and in their own time.
This time one is important.
We crave quick-fixes. We want to find that pill that reverses ageing overnight. The miracle weight-loss cure. The instant muscle building formula.
We want it all and we want it now.
But this attitude lands you in all sorts of trouble when it comes to personal development.
For the simple reason that the soul is the mind is the body. You can’t do a total renovation on your mind and not expect there to be consequences in the body. You can’t do deep work with the soul and not expect there to be consequence in the mind.
It’s all one experience.
So you know, I see people who want to come in and want to turn their life completely on its head. They want to be instantly engineered for success, and cosmically geared for universal compassion and enlightenment.
And look. That is awesome. Those are beautiful things to aspire to.
But sometimes, you just need to slow down.
You need to take your body with you. I keep bringing it back to the body because that’s what I feel I have the best handle on. I only have a second-hand experience of what’s going on in the mind, and the soul? Forget it. I wrote some poems as a teenager but that’s about it.
So I bring it back to the body. The body is a sensitive instrument. It’s already running on red-line most of the time, thanks to caffeine, city life and the internet. Add to that a complete make-over of the relationship to your ego, and you can tip the body into panic.
You can trigger some adrenal-driven defensive mechanisms. Run those on red-line for long enough and you’ll trigger the mind’s defence mechanisms. Then things get real.
So I really want to see everyone I’m working with – and really everyone in the world – develop practices of self-care.
I want people to recognise that modern life asks a lot of the body. Just making it through in one piece is a challenge. But add to that the ideal of becoming the fully-empowered author of your own life… well, you need to expand gently into that capacity.
And self-care practices – a round of golf with your mates, a trip to a day-spa with the girls, a weekend without your phone – these things help the physical body to cope – with life, with your journey with every thing.
If you’re nurturing the body, you’re supporting the foundations. You’re laying the ground work for a gentle, and more sustainable, expansion.
You can stretch a balloon little by little. But stretch it too quickly, and it can tear.
Then there’s some healing that needs to happen.
It’s all good, whatever happens. But I think the most efficient route (that minimises the chances of tearing the balloon and spending a long time dealing with the consequences) is to foster a spirit of gentle determination.
Keep your focus and momentum moving in a single direction. But let it come slowly, in it’s own time, as you are ready for it.
Patience isn’t sexy. But it keeps you out of a lot of trouble.
Have you developed practices of self-care?