Mind-Body-Spirit: What does it really mean?
By Rachel Murray, R.H.N., BScN, RN
We hear of the Mind-Body Connection, or the relationship between Mind, Body and Spirit often enough, but what does it really mean, and why is it important? As an R.H.N., I understand that the key to becoming happy and healthy lies in the health of the Mind, Body & Spirit. Why can’t we just focus on the area of concern you ask?
Simply put, the mind, body and spirit are all connected. If one is out of sorts, they’re all out of sorts.
In order to truly obtain our greatest state of health and happiness, we need to consider all of them with equal importance when address health concerns.
The health of our mind depends on a variety of factors. The list of contributors is extensive and includes the intake of drugs (both prescription and non-prescription), the stress response & our emotions; all of which can signal the release of a variety of hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters. Additionally, the health of our mind is affected by our relationships with others and ourselves, genetics, our environment (Holford, 2010) and as we’ve heard discussed so often lately, our gut health. Gut health takes center stage here, as it can be impacted by all of the aforementioned factors. How healthy our gut is, is closely related to the health of our body, and vice versa.
For our body to be healthy, we need to ensure we give it two things, nutrition & exercise. Good nutrition supports the mind and the emotions, allowing us to experience total wellness (Karren, Hafen et al., 2006). We must provide our bodies with the fuel that it requires, through the nutrients in food, as well as proper hydration. For many people, obtaining adequate nutrients may also include supplementation.
We also need to move our bodies through involvement in regular exercise. Exercise not only helps us to maintain a healthy weight, but also decreases our risk of a variety of diseases including heart attack, stroke & cancer. Exercise can also improve sleep, boost energy and mood, which leads us back to the health of our mind.
On the contrary, we also need to ensure we are not engaging the body in activities or consuming things that create undue stress on the body, such as repeatedly engaging in stressful activities, over-exercising or eating foods that do not serve us (junk food).
Spiritual health means many things to many people and does not have one set definition. It may involve religion, prayer, beliefs, morals, energy systems, or meditation.
However, Spiritual Health is also connected to the mind and body health. For example, neuropeptides, which are the chemicals triggered by emotions, are literally thoughts converted into matter (Myss, 1996). Prayer or meditation may be considered ‘energy medicine’ and can help to lower stress which leads to the body both physically and mentally relaxing through the easing of muscles and changes in hormone & chemical release (Myss, 1996).
Even those individuals who do not follow a specific religion are impacted by spiritual health whether they realize it or not. Spiritual health may seem more elusive than Mind and Body Health but is nonetheless equally important.
Any area of the body that is not transmitting at it’s normal frequency indicates the location of a problem (Myss, 1996). So, if the liver, for example, is not physically functioning optimally, it will send out a different frequency than that of a healthy liver. The energy, or spirit of the liver is trying to communicate it’s need for support.
In conclusion, this is a very brief synopsis of the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection.
The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection is a highly complex interconnected process that is constantly receiving, interpreting and reacting to our ever-changing environment.
Our modern society has become distanced from understanding the importance of addressing all of these components, however research is again and again showing the significance of how these systems are all related.
Despite it’s complexity, as a R.H.N., it is our duty to include all of these elements when assessing our clients, interpreting their data, and then creating recommendations for them. Helping our clients understand that these areas are all connected gives them important tools which enable them to become active participants in their health. Through listening, support and guidance, we, as R.H.N.s, play a crucial role in our clients’ journey towards optimal health!
Holford, P. (2010) Optimum Nutrition for the mind. London, England: Piatkus.
Karren, K., Hafen, B., Smith, N., & Frandsen, K. (2006). Mind/body health: the affects of attitudes, emotions, and relationships. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.
Myss, C. (1996). Anatomy of the spirit: the seven stages of healing. New York, NY: Penguin Random House Company