There is a concept I’ve encountered with some folks who practice Eastern meditation. After maybe more consideration than some might think necessary, I’ve found myself in profound disagreement with that concept. It goes like this; when getting in touch with reality we need to focus on our body. We need to pay attention to the feeling in various parts of our body. Ok, all that I’m good with. But the train of thought goes on; we need to let go of the thoughts we encounter; the thoughts in our minds are transient like the clouds in the sky. It’s the italicized part that I find short sighted and lacking in awareness.
The fact is the thoughts in our minds have as much of an effect upon our lives as anything that can happen to or within our corporeal body. They aren’t always fleeting. Some thought patterns become quite fixed within our lives and can either lift us up and guide us toward a rewarding life or drag us down like a malignant cancer. Some thought patterns probably do create or contribute to cancerous conditions within the body.
So should we ignore our thoughts to exclusively focus on the feelings we experience in our body? Should we just focus on the physical condition of a ship we’re sailing on? What about the navigation? What about the accuracy or lack thereof of the maps we are employing? Can the captain competently read and interpret the available data?
The fact is that it’s all important. Just as a good captain needs to “listen” to his ship, know it’s condition as well as possible, the captain also needs to be able to steer it in the right direction, avoiding the rocks and other dangers. Our bodies and our minds are complimentary components of our whole being. We need to embrace and strive to understand the needs and potentials of both. As Jesus stated, Luke 11:17, NIV; …”Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.”
This statement is true on many levels, one level it is true on is in regard to the dynamics going on within a single human being. It is work and often there are prejudices and dogma arrayed against us, in our environment and that we may have internalized, when we begin to get more fully in touch with our bodies and our minds. Yet it is incumbent upon all of us, sooner or later, to take on the task of understanding our own being and recognizing our responsibility for our own lives.
And, I would add, as we get in touch with ourselves, it benefits us to realize the truth within the poem by John Donne:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.