One day, a mother is taking a walk around her neighborhood with a friend. They are engaged in an interesting conversation. The mother’s four-year-old son is inside of the stroller she is pushing.
The two women are gossiping about TV stars and their friends’ private lives.
It’s early in the morning. The neighborhood they live in is in the center of a big city. There are many intersections and cars driving on the roads nearby. They constantly have to stand and wait to cross at stop signs and stoplights.
At one point in their walk, their conversation gets so interesting that they don’t realize the stoplight is red. They cross the street when they shouldn’t and don’t look at the traffic. When they reach the other side of the street, the mother’s son starts to cry and move about uncomfortably in the stroller.
It takes the mother a few minutes to give him her attention. The conversation between the women has reached the best part: the TV star they’re talking about has taken a lover and his wife found out about it.
When the mother finally asks her son what is wrong and why he is fussing so loudly and unhappily, he says, “The light was red and you didn’t see it. You don’t love me?”
He questions whether his safety or her gossip is more important to her. Horrified, the mother realizes in that moment why he asked her that question.
Have you noticed that sometimes we are so engaged with our thoughts that we forget we have a body?
Most of the time, we don’t smell the scent of our shower soap; we don’t feel the texture of the toothpaste in our mouths; we don’t see or hear the bird singing in our window. We have no idea what our breakfast tasted like. This is because we are living in our thoughts most of the time. We forget that our bodies are much more interested in the present moment.
To illustrate the disconnect between the mother and her son in the story, I portrayed the mother as the talkative mind, and the body as the son in the stroller. The body is innocent and does not seem as rational as the mind, but it knows more about what makes us happy, healthy, and safe than the mind does.
When the body is uncomfortable it constantly try to call the attention of the mind to what is happening to it; when the mind keeps ignoring the body, diseases or even death are inevitable. The body has a holistic awareness for its needs. It knows how to thrive in happiness, and how to survive. It doesn’t need the mind as much as we “think” it does. The mind has no clue about holistic awareness, and to make things worse, it doesn’t know that it doesn’t know.
The nature of the mind in thoughts and possibilities is of constant, endless noise. The nature of the body is interconnectedness. It connects our physical and spiritual states harmoniously, given that we train our minds to allow it to do its job. That is the reason we see many people whose bodies don’t match their mental state. For example, people who talk on and on, and even write about health, but have an unhealthy body, people who say they believe in love and kindness, but live life dueling in hatred and selfishness, and those who say they are happy when they can’t smile. They seem to be living different lives, like joint twins who want to do different things but they can’t detach from each other. There is a clear disconnection.
When you listen to the body, you will notice that it will also direct you to what thoughts you give attention to. Those who desire to find harmony between body and mind, starts by practicing a gentle and compassionate relationship with their bodies.
Next time you don’t remember if the sign was red or green when you crossed the street, it is time to revise your relationship with your body!
(From Fit for Joy: Fitness of the Heart)