Tonight I purchased a bottle of wine for $3.17 and I paid entirely in change. The cashier laughed at me. I laughed at myself. It was a good time. The other day my roommate and I watched Downton Abbey and I cried twice. My doctor has instructed me to wear sunglasses if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night to avoid nighttime light exposure. My life is funny! I’m not going to tell you if I’ve gone the sunglasses route or not.. I’ll let you imagine that one in your mind. But last night I did read by candlelight.. I crawled into bed after my usual bedtime routine and when my head hit the pillow my eyes flew open. Not usually what I’m hoping for when I go to bed. My mind was not just restless or wandering, it was on. I felt wide awake, sharp, and present, so I got up for a cup of chamomile tea and my journal. The thoughts in my head always keep swirling around unless they are given a home on paper. Ever the obedient patient, while I was in the kitchen I grabbed a candle to read and write by so that I would avoid a bright light source. So by candlelight (my life is funny), I laid in my bed and drank my tea and ushered the thoughts out of my head. My mind kept my body awake. My body is a slave to my mind.
And my emotions are slaves to my body. Two nights ago I made the horrible mistake of drinking coffee in the afternoon. No big deal right? My body says otherwise and remains incredibly sensitive – TOO sensitive – to caffeine. I slept horribly that night and woke up the next morning with an unusually anxious and uneasy heart that I couldn’t shake until much later in the day. Isn’t it amazing how our bodies and minds and spirits and emotions are connected and have such sway over one another? I am a sensitive person, and not just emotionally sensitive, evidenced by the fact that I cry during Downton Abbey. I’m so keenly aware of my body and how different foods, substances, and activities affect it. And I’m becoming more and more aware of how my body can affect my emotions, how my mind can control my body, and how my mind and my emotions interact.
Recently I was listening to a podcast and there was one single sentence that stood out to me: “Your mind can’t protect you here.” Short and simple but frightening to me. My mind can be such a comfortable place to hide! I use my mind to reason myself out of uncomfortable emotions and I hide behind the abilities of my mind when I feel insecure about or unhappy with my body.
When I think of myself in this way – my mind reasoning away certain emotions, my body profoundly affecting my emotions, etc – I am forced to realize that humans are so much deeper and more complex than we realize on the day-to-day. So I have begun to think of myself as a being with separate parts – mind, body, spirit, and emotion. It has been so helpful to me to imagine myself in these four parts: the mind of Rebecca, the body of Rebecca, the spirit of Rebecca, and the emotion of Rebecca. Slowly, I’m learning how I am only myself with all four of them and I am my best self when they are all working together and taking care of each other. The idea of “having compassion on yourself” seemed silly to me until I went to counseling myself (side note: counseling has been a life-changing thing for me and I will promote good counseling to anyone who will listen to me) but I have grown so much in my ability to be kind and compassionate to my own self, specifically to my own body. Due to a sickness in college that continues to impact me (another story for another time), I came to hate my body because it was not working as it should and I was unhappy with it. Now, thinking of myself as these separate parts, it’s easier for one aspect of myself to be compassionate on the other aspects as I realize how much they affect each other.
I just finished reading “A Girl from the Limberlost” and collected several lovely little quotes in my mind from the book. One of my favorite was when Philip said to Elnora, “You are in the school of experience, and it has taught you to think and given you a heart. God knows I envy the man who wins it!” If life is not school, I don’t know what is. And how life shapes us and our bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits! We are given a body, a heart, a mind, and a spirit. Each of these profoundly affects the other and we are responsible to care for and get to know each aspect of ourselves to become more complete, to become more compassionate on ourselves, to interact with other human beings with the entirety of our beings, and to live more out of who we truly are at the core and who the Creator perfectly crafted us to be.