Our minds and our bodies are connected. If we’re unhappy for an extended time, our bodies become weaker and we are prone to illness. In the same way if we’re physically run down that adversely affects our minds.
The Mind and Body Work Together
The mind and body are very different, but they definitely affect each other. We’re well aware of the benefits of taking care of our bodies—we look better and we feel better. Taking care of our minds is also very important.
With meditation we can benefit our health by becoming free from negative thoughts and encouraging more positive thinking. This will lessen stress and anxiety and give us a clear mind so that we make fewer mistakes and better decisions. With better decision making we have less regret and that positively affects our overall well-being.
Well-being is an innate quality of mind, but our entire physical and mental environment affects the way we look at things. Absorbed in distraction, the innate well-being of mind gets lost or somehow restricted. We need to make the effort to uncover the well-being that is there already.
Mind has the ability to know things. That is the definition of mind – something that is conscious and can know an object. But, our minds don’t work well when they’re disturbed. Being distracted by overlapping thoughts and emotions is like asking our minds to “do this, but do something else first, but before that please think about this.” Our minds get frustrated and cannot focus. When we can focus on one thing undisturbed our minds become relaxed. Our minds need time and space if they’re going to work well.
Importance of the Mind
Whatever we do whether we are thinking, speaking or acting—these activities will bring either benefit or harm to ourselves and others.
The most important thing is the mind—if we take care of it then our verbal and physical actions will follow. When we meditate we’re working with the mind, putting effort into making the mind calm and clear. We’re making the mind more aware so that when there’s a problem we won’t be as adversely affected by things. Of course we still have feelings, but there is a big difference because when our minds are disturbed small things can feel more magnified than when we are calm.
Our minds may think the situation is worse than it is. We may become agitated, which then affects many other things. From that small disturbance our minds can create all sorts of problems. Initially, we’re just uncomfortable with something, then that leads to seeing things negatively—then other things can begin to feel harmful. Once we take care of the mind with meditation it is protected; therefore our speech and actions are also protected, preventing us from saying or doing things we may regret. Avoiding aggravating problems that already exist is a great help to oneself and others, but that’s the opposite of what we usually do. Even if we’re meditating by ourselves, we’re actually taking care of our minds. In that way we’re in a much better position to help ourselves and others.
We can motivate ourselves to practice by remembering that dissatisfaction and particularly negative emotions are contagious. By their nature they tend to harm others. As the saying goes, misery loves company. It is even more important to remind ourselves that good intentions and feelings are also contagious in the same way. Benefiting others starts with taking care of our minds and experiencing genuine well-being. Just think of others. Even a small gesture of kindness has a ripple effect. If you smile at somebody, they will smile back at you.