Continuing on from our last blog - The Key To A Balanced Life - this week we are looking at how we can find equanimity within, particularly when it comes to our mind. We explored the idea of classifying the 4 areas in our lives where we should look to find harmony: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. We refer to these categories as 'bodies' because they are in fact, very much part of who we are as if layers of our being. Each layer is intrinsic to the whole, so any imbalance in one area can lead to an imbalance of the others. Hence, although we are looking at them as individuals, we must consider their cohesiveness and aim for balance in all four bodies.
The Mental Body:
What is it: The mental body is comprised of the mind - our thoughts, perceptions, ideas, fantasies, judgments, programming, conditioning, and awareness. It is also the home of our consciousness both of self and universal. It is where information is obtained, processed, stored, and projected. It is also where expression and manifestation originate. In order to express ourselves, we have to have a clear understanding of what we want to say and a language or media in which to use for communication. It is also true that every action starts with a thought, every creation begins with mental formation. The mind is what gives us direction and coordination.
When it is neglected: When the mind is unbalanced we may feel unsettled within ourselves. We may become disinterested and disengaged. We may have too many confusing and conflicting thoughts and ideas, like too many weeds that overtake a beautiful garden, It's difficult to cultivate inspiration for new ideas, see new angles and perspective of things. We may experience brain fog or feel spaced out. This could also happen from a lack of mental stimulation and challenge. The mind can also feel restless and bored, which can lead to reckless behavior and poor decision making.
If the mind isn't clear, we may find it difficult to retain, process, or understand information from the world around us, and also what is happening within us. When we can't interpret signs and information well, it will be much more difficult to express and communicate well.
Poor self-esteem, lack of self-worth, or self-trust is also a sign of an unbalanced mental body.
When it is excessive: When the mind is overstimulated or overworking, we may experience what some call the monkey mind. Our thoughts are constantly jumping from one to the next and there is a constant mental busyness. The loudness of this mental chatter can be very distracting making it difficult to think clearly. We may also experience constant worrying thoughts or negative thought cycles that make us feel anxious. When we are in a state of anxiety, we tend to over think the details and are unable to see the bigger picture. We may become too fixated on our thoughts and opinions, unable to see other opportunities and solutions. We can become stubborn, judgmental, and egotistical.
Another side of this is when we are frequently on overdrive and excessively driven. We are constantly thinking of the next thing that needs to be done and can't keep still, Sleep is difficult as the mind never switches off, eventually leading to mental exhaustion and burnout.
When it is in balance: When our mental body is in balance, we feel calm, grounded, and settled. We are able to think and see clearly all perspectives and angles of an idea and situation. There is a good ability to understand information and even pick up on subtle cues from both the internal and external environments. We feel inspired and motivated and have a clear sense of direction. We take action on our thoughts and make calculated decisions easily. When challenges arise, we are able to manage them easily and find solutions. When our emotional states are challenged, we are also able to handle them and use our inner and outer resources to regain inner stability. Our mind is more focused and our communication concise. We are mindful in all that we do, present in the moment.
The key to balance: Becoming the master of the mind and not its slave. To understand that we have more control than we think over our mental states. It takes work, but it most certainly is worth the effort. Meditation teaches us how to rein in the monkey mind and find inner stillness and calm. We must learn how to break negative thinking cycles and learn how to reprogram our inner software. Mindfulness is both a way to mentally stimulate us (underbalanced) and to slow us down (overstimulated) and is the start to a clearer mind. Just paying attention to what is happening, right here, right now with all of our attention, the mind becomes actively focused, calm yet engaged. Then, we can truly begin to see what is happening, both around us and also within. It starts here. Sometimes, all it takes is just a moment to pause, take a deep breath, to become present, and we find once again our center. We come back to a place of balance and peace.
Next week... the emotional body. Stay tuned.