Shikishin-Funi “The Oneness of Mind and Body”
Shikishin-funi. “The oneness of mind and body”
Yesterday, as I was reading ‘Let Your Mind Run’ by Deena Kastor, a professional distance runner. I came to a part where she was about to accept a sponsorship from ASICS. She said that she held the company is such high regard not only because she loved the sneakers, but also because she respected that the ASICS based its name on the famous Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”, which translated means “A sound mind in a sound body.” This made me put the book down and think. It reminded me of something we often talk about in Buddhism; ‘Shikishin-funi’, which is the Japanese term that means “the oneness of mind and body.” I feel called to dive deeper into this principle and share it with you.
Buddhism teaches the mind and body are one. The physical and the spiritual are two aspects of the same reality.
To understand the oneness of body and mind you can look at your own health to see that there is no distinction. To care for the health of your body is to care for the health of your mind and spirit. This is why, when you are stressed out, you can get a stomach ache, pain in your shoulders, neck or back. Why you feel euphoric or relaxed after a good workout. And why, when you feed yourself nutritious food regularly you are more upbeat and happy. Yet if you feed yourself processed, sugary foods you are more likely to experience mood disorders, like depression or anxiety.
Have you ever been sick? Of course you have, it is only human to come down with illnesses from time to time. But how do some people summon forth the strength and courage to heal and win over their illnesses, while others are dragged down into the depths of suffering?
In order to be healthy, we must be operating in a highly positive state where we take full responsibility for our situation. We must make a determination to get healthy and then take action. This will look different for each individual as we all have similar yet very different struggles and sufferings. But what everyone can benefit from is a positive attitude toward their obstacles in health.
We all want to be healthy and full of energy, enthusiasm, and vigor for life. Yet so many of us feel dragged down by our physical limitations when the truth is that those very “limitations” are your path toward happiness and health. It is your mission to learn to overcome your sufferings and lead a healthy and happy life to the fullest; to reach your potential physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But how? How do we begin to connect the dots between the health of our body and mind?
Oftentimes there are simple and obvious solutions to problems. For example, cutting out coffee in the afternoons, or alcohol in the evenings can help you to sleep better, which improves your mood, relationships, and energy levels. Doing breathing exercises when you feel stressed can calm your nervous system and steer you onto a better path for the rest of your day, improving your performance, life choices, overall happiness and healing potential. There are so many examples of simple exercises or habits you can incorporate into your life which will improve your mind/body connection and over all wellbeing.
Other times, the answers to overcoming your health struggles are deeper, stemming way back in time. But when you work back and look deep into your heart and life, you will often find that what is lacking is a profound belief in your potential to be healthy. Do you truly believe that you deserve a healthy body, mind, and spirit? One that will help you actualize your potential in this life? This is something that we all must convince ourselves of, because without a strong conviction here, we may fail in our attempts, time after time. The good news is, we can just keep trying. All our attempts at living well, working toward leading healthy, balanced lives do add up; so please, never give up.
I recommend making a mind/body exercise part of your routine. Of course, Pilates is my favorite way to get out of my head and into my body. I do think that is why people love Pilates so much and why an hour of it goes by easily, leaving you feeling energized and more alive for the rest of the day. There is a kind of magic that happens when you consciously, purposefully and mindfully move your body. Yoga is another wonderful way to tap into your mind/body connection, as are certain other meditation practices.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says “Health is not simply a matter of absence of illness. Health means constant challenge. Constant creativity. A prolific life always moving forward, opening up fresh new vistas, that is a life of true health. An unbeatable spirit is what supplies us the power to keep pressing ahead.”
If you are struggling with a health issue, whether it is serious or not, you owe it to yourself to take responsibility and be honest with yourself. Deep inside you know what you need to do, what actions you need to take, day in and day out. And when you are not sure what the next step is, you should begin with a prayer. Pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body. If that is your intention, the right teacher and healers will appear in your life. In the end though, you are your own best teacher and healer. You will become the healthiest version of yourself and you will inspire others to improve their health. These things are contagious, so please, pass it on.
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