PART 3 BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT
7 Body, mind and spirit working together
I believe that we all have within us that kind of God-given innate energy, which is always working for our health and well-being in body, mind and spirit, sometimes in spite of our own efforts! I think this is what the Quakers call ‘that of God within us’, and we can trust it. The life that enables a dandelion to grow through tarmac will surely enable us to journey through the valley of shadows to a place where we can feel the sun on our faces once again.
In the next three chapters I’d like us to think about some aspects of our recovery in body, mind and spirit using verses from Psalm 139 as a framework for our reflections.
8 Caring for our bodies
Our bodies, as well as our minds, can hold memories of pain and abuse. Our muscles can store stress, tension and anxiety, and sometimes treatment of such physical problems (by an osteopath, for example, or a deep massage) can release strong emotions and bring to the surface memories that had been hidden from us.
So it is important that we pay attention to what our bodies are telling us they need and that we respond with compassion to those needs.
9 Caring for our minds
Caring for our minds as we recover from depression can be a delicate task beset with dangers and risk of further harm. I want to sound a note of caution here both for those who are in the early stages of recovery and for those who love and care for such a person or who offer pastoral care as a member of the clergy or other minister.
It can be quite easy with sympathetic, or better still empathic, listening and without severe time restraints to encourage someone to open up and tell you things in confidence that she has never been able to talk about before. Initially this may feel good and right for both of you, and indeed often may be just what was needed to enable someone to move forward in their lives.
But our minds are hugely complicated and sensitive. Some very powerful and painful emotions and memories may be stirred up in an already distressed person. Her emotions may then find an outward expression that leaves her exhausted, very vulnerable and in urgent need of professional therapeutic
10 Caring for our spirits
When we are caring for our spirits and looking for ways to let God into our lives I think it’s important to be very honest with ourselves, although that’s not always easy. It’s not easy either to be totally honest with God. It can be very painful to stand spiritually naked before God knowing that he sees us as we really are in all our messy confusion with doubts and fears that hold us back.
But while God sees us as we are he also loves us and wishes us only what is healing and beautiful. I love these words from Isaiah, which help me to trust in God’s gentleness and loving- kindness:
‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.’ (Isaiah 42. 1a, 3a)
11 Some ideas for day to day living
In this chapter I’m going to share with you a few ideas about our day- to- day care of our bodies, minds and spirits. I hope you may find some of these suggestions helpful, perhaps opening up one or two previously unnoticed paths along the road or encouraging you to explore new ways of caring for yourself in body, mind and spirit.
They are not ‘rules’ and not all of them will be of use to everyone. It’s a case of ‘take your pick’ and do with them as you wish!