Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Holy Trinity: Body-Mind-Spirit

The Holy Trinity: Body-Mind-Spirit
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.––Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (New York: Knopf, 1923), 11
Knowledge of the mind-body connection has existed for eons. Thousands of years ago, humans left drawings on cave walls depicting shamanism—the oldest known tradition that used visualized images for healing. In the fourth century before Christ, the Greek philosopher Socrates commented, “There is no illness of the body apart from the mind.” There is also ample scientific documentation on the mind-body connection, beginning with the simple and ubiquitous “placebo effect” and moving on to more in-depth studies on meditation, the mind, and physical health. I will reference some of these studies later.
We can also find examples of the mind-body connection throughout the scriptures. In the Old Testament we read, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). In the Book of Mormon, we learn of a man named Zeezrom, who “lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness” (Alma 15:3). And in the New Testament, we read that at the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins and sorrows of the world, he suffered such great physical agony that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ also teaches there is an intimate link between body, mind, and spirit. For example, in the revelations containing the Lord’s law of health, God has promised blessings of physical health and also blessings of the mind and spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:19–21). Jesus Christ also taught of the importance and link between these bodies, especially when it comes to worship and service:

  • “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).
  • “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2).

My belief is that our spirits are pure and perfect, and as Truman G. Madsen taught, “our bodies can either be an impediment or an enhancer” to the divine potential coiled within us. Though the physical body may be the “strength” referred to in the scriptures, the physical body is a servant to the mind.

As a hypnotherapist, I explain the mind to people every day. The very simple explanation is that, from the time of birth until eight years old, your mind is one big receptacle for everything you ever hear, say, see, dream, or experience. Every kind and unkind word spoken to you—it all pours into your mind and forms a collection of knowns. These knowns can be added to throughout your life, but for the first eight years there is almost no barrier to entry. When a child nears eight years old, the mind separates and organizes into the conscious and unconscious mind, and a barrier is formed between the two. The newly formed conscious has many cool features, such as logic, reason, willpower, and decision-making abilities, that were not in fully functioning until eight years old.
Though these new critical-thinking skills are lauded as important keystones of free agency, the critical-thinking part of the mind is not as powerful as we wish to believe. Experts agree that the conscious mind makes up less than 10 percent of the mind. The subconscious, which is already full of subconscious programs by eight years old, makes up 90 percent or more of the mind. Much of our behavior and patterns, despite our conscious wishes, are a result of subconscious programming that was formed before we reached an age of awareness.
Consequently, though the conscious mind might make a logical decision (e.g., to stop eating chocolate or to make a daily habit of meditation), the subconscious mind, if it does not have any knowns to match this decision, will not cooperate. Thus begins the conscious versus unconscious tug of war. This unfairly stacked tug of war explains much of the resistance to lasting behavioral change. It also explains how easy change can be when the subconscious can be reprogrammed and the 90 percent and the 10 percent are on the same team.

The LDS church recognizes the shift in consciousness by age eight as the ability to choose right from wrong, which is why children are not baptized before the age of eight (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:27). Younger children are believed to be pure and without sin, but the actual doctrine is that they are not held accountable for their sins until eight years old (their parents are held accountable). The porous nature of the subconscious mind before age eight and the programming that early messages create informs the importance of raising children “in light and truth” from their very early days (Doctrine and Covenants 93:30).
If we were just trying to reprogram patterns from birth to age eight, that would be enough, but to add to the mix, there is also daily subconscious overload that comes with living in the current information age. This overload has created sicknesses unique to our time, most notably stress and stress-related illnesses. Though the mind is a giant receptacle, it has limits to what it can handle. Yogi Bhajan taught that the mind receives 1,000 thoughts per wink of the eye. Yet the mind can only process one of these message units at a time. The other 999 (per wink) go to the subconscious. If we do not have a regular practice of consolidating and cleaning the mind, the subconscious starts to unload into the conscious mind and the body. The consequences are stress, anxiety, depression, the inability to think or to work, and a condition that is much like sleepwalking through life.
When the conscious mind becomes overloaded, the mind may put pain in the body as a cry for help. This communication via the mind-body is often very literal. For example, when Sam’s mother-in-law came to visit, for three months he experienced unexplained, severe rectal pain. When questioned in a hypnotherapy session about what was going on at home, he admitted that he thought his mother-in-law was “kind of a pain in the butt.” When he made the connection that the pain was related to his emotions about his mother-in-law, the pain instantly went away as he dealt with the emotions.
As another example, Summer has suffered from chronic stomach aches since childhood; the pain was exacerbated by a childhood trauma. She also had experienced anxiety from a young age. She never connected the stomach aches with the anxiety or with an inability to digest what happened to her. As she has used meditation tools, her stomach aches have lessened.
At other times, pain seems to come from outside, such as an attack, bad food, or an accident, but when examined, these “accidents” are often subconsciously created as a way of mind-body communication. As one of my teachers often suggests, nothing happens to you; everything happens through you. I used to hate that saying because I thought it meant that I was to blame for all my problems, even other’s abuses. And in fact, I was more responsible than I wanted to believe, but when I let go of the guilt/blame mentality and started paying attention to the communication that was embedded in these patterns, I became more empowered to change them.
For example, for about ten years, every time I broke off a serious relationship, I had a strange accident: I would break or maim one or more of my toes. Each time seemed so accidental (why would I do that on purpose?), but after about six or more toes being injured, I awoke and saw the pattern. I realized that it was a subconscious way of putting pain into my body so I could have a physical indicator of the speed of the healing process. As my toe healed, I would take comfort knowing that emotional healing was also happening and would be complete within six weeks. I eventually faced and dropped the toe-breaking pattern when I found better tools. Others have done the same with the tools in this book.
Nancy came to Kundalini Yoga after she broke her right foot for the second time in one year (her story is on page xx). When I asked her if she had a desire to run from a career or financial situation, she thought I was a psychic, but it was only the body communicating loudly.
Donnette shared another interesting insight about the role of the mind as a helper or hindrance in healing: “Last night He opened my mind enough to understand what you were saying; it’s all about what you believe. So what came to me was that since I asked to be healed, I was. But I need to clear my mind so that I can believe that I’m healed. So now I believe my healing process and that of my family will be much faster! This opens a whole new world! A world of faith, belief, and miracles!”
Though we may not be consciously aware of all that exists within our subconscious mind, we must understand that we can only get out what is inside. It is like the proverb of the orange: If you squeeze an orange, you will not get apple juice. It is often when we are squeezed that we discover what is inside.
So the idea, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans centuries ago, is that transformation comes through the renewing of the mind: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Yogi Bhajan expressed the same idea:

The idea is, sit up and meditate. Thoughts come, they hit the floor, and you say, ‘Waahay Guroo, Waahay Guroo. . . .’ They hit you. You hit them. You clean it out. You do this so there may be some space left where more garbage can be dumped.
How is this renewal achieved? How is the garbage dumped? Paul gives us the answer:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Though the body is a servant to the mind, the deeds done in the body will affect the mind. Using the temple-body to perform sacred acts, both exoteric (baptism, temple ordinances, etc.) and esoteric (meditations, kriyas, fasting, etc.), is the way that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Sacrifice means “to make sacred,” and only in the physical body is sacrifice possible.
The Subconscious Mind and Agency

Sometimes people complain to me that subconscious programming robs us of agency. I agree it doesn’t seem fair at first glance, but when the records are considered, God has warned us. Though He calls this programming by other names, God warns His people of subconscious programming all throughout the scriptures. Words and phrases such as “the foolish traditions of your fathers,” “hard heartedness,” “stiff necked,” “asleep,” and “the natural man” may take on new meaning as you read with an understanding of how the subconscious mind works. You may also take note of the many injunctions, such as “awake,” “renew,” and “remember.”
Knowing the pitfalls of mortal existence, God recognized we wouldn’t get through unscathed. So He prepared a way to clean out the subconscious. That way is through the Savior Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ lived a mortal life and suffered all the temptations and afflictions of the flesh, He knows how to succor us. One of the lesser-known definitions of succor is “to go beneath.” By “descending below all things,” Christ was showing us the way to true healing, which happens at a deeper level.
Though the Atonement is the source of all healing and is available to all, I have learned that it is not applied equally, even among the equally good or deserving. I see many who genuinely seek change and healing but receive only small relief, while others receive amazing outpourings of healing and enabling power. I have wondered about this paradox many times, and I realize the reason may be that while we may ask for healing, we may at the same time subconsciously block it.  
Transformation takes more energy than we have on our own. Those who know how to use certain energetic tools, such as meditation, are able to peel back the layers for Christ—they are able to open their minds and hearts and give Him access:
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:7)
A broken heart is an open heart. The Latin root of the word contrite means “worn down, broken, crumbled.” We must wear down, break, and crumble the ego. Do we know how to subdue the ego? It requires energetic power. This power comes through a combination of sacred technology, such as ordinances, fasting, the Shabd Guru, and Kundalini Yoga kriyas and meditations.

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