The Body Is a Hermitage of the Mind

I've been awake since 2 a.m., so I'm sure much of this post will be somewhat diffuse. I had finished In Search of Wisdom by Alexandre Jollien, Christophe Andre, and Matthieu Ricard. It was so delightful to read perspectives from a philosopher, a psychiatrist, and a Buddhist monk. They all had unique experiences that informed their perspectives, and it was interesting to hear them elaborate their perspectives using their experiences.


As I always do with books, I came across several nuggets of gold I'll keep in my pocket for later. One of the last ones I kept really made me think about the body/mind relationship. It actually wasn't even given in that context. Ricard wrote, "The body is a hermitage of the mind."


As an athlete, I've spent countless hours beating my body into submission. I recalled early this morning the mornings I had to stuff my foot into an ice bath to rid myself of inflammation. If you've ever taken an ice bath, you know the immense amount of shock you experience the moment skin touches the surface of the water. Your nerves definitely do their work in sending a signal to the brain that this water is way too cold. The brain implores the foot, the hand, or whatever to immediately escape.


This is mindfulness. You are completely awake in that fraction of a second. You immediately forget about your dog being sick, your father suffering, and your significantly declining bank account. In that moment, your body and mind are one.


Once your ego demands you to endure, your mind begins to churn thoughts: "This is freaking cold! What was I thinking? How long do I have to do this? Am I going to die?"


Then your body, in taking care of you, settles into this cold experience. The cold, you are told, shuttles inflammation out of the submerged area so it can receive fresh, new blood.


After this experience, you go about your day, then do it all over again the next. Yes, indeed, it's Groundhog Day.


It wasn't until several years later that I realized, "Why don't I figure out what keeps bringing about this inflammation?"


The body is indeed the hermitage of the mind, yet I kept destroying my hermitage as my mind kept throwing wild parties. I had spent several years in this endless cycle. Eventually, the hermitage gets so run down that it no longer provides shelter.


As I see people older than I suffer from serious illness, I know that I could wind up the same way if I'm not careful. In the same way, I see many "influencers" (ugh, I hate that term because they are less than inspiring to me) promoting this weight loss product or this nutrition supplement while they put in unrealistic workouts daily.


It would be easy for me to judge--most times I have. I could say to the young people, "You might want to take it easy." I could say to the older people, "Find a way to move."


But each person has his or her own hermitage. It's up to each person to tend to it.

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