Of Sound Mind and Body

It seems to me that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be of sound mind and body in the world we’ve created for ourselves. We surround ourselves with all types of toxic substances – plastics, VOCs, chemicals and impurities – all the while increasingly isolating ourselves form the experience of the great outdoors. More often than not, the climate is controlled when we’re at home, while we travel around in our vehicles and while we’re at work and the air we breathe indoors in well-constructed, air-tight homes is often more deleterious to our health than the polluted air outside.

The environmental xenobiotics affect more than our bodies, in fact, they also impair our mental function. The extracellular matrix is increasingly befouled and research now shows that our cells themselves are being compromised by the increasingly toxic food we eat, air we breathe and water we drink. Such is the price of progress.

I mention these trends not to alarm or bemoan, but instead to raise awareness. The world we live in is the net result of the choices made by the body of humanity in the moments prior to the present. Change the choices and you change the world. It is that simple. Change your choices and you change your world.

Of even greater importance than what goes into you, in my book, is that which flows out of you. You have a choice as to whether your expression blesses and uplifts, purifies and inspires no matter how toxic the world around your might be. If that which flows out of you is not pristine, or at least the finest of which you are presently capable, the work you do on your body or mind will be of little import, for you will be like an attractive piece of fruit with a rotten core…worthless and unsatisfying.

Any step you take in the direction of greater soundness of mind or body influences the world beyond you. You are a part of a whole, a connected albeit not always integrated whole, whether you like to admit it or not. I’d like to challenge you, dear readers, to deliberately choose this weekend to move in the direction of soundness, be it of body, mind or heart.

Facing the Mistakes of Life I

As human beings endowed with the capacity of free will we are faced with a profound responsibility and an uncommon privilege. If you’ve lived any amount of time you realize that you occasionally make good choices and every so often you make a bad one. The good choices are as instructive as the bad ones, if you can maintain your perspective and poise in both success and failure.

A mature approach to making mistakes separates the men from the boys. I’ve noticed over the years that great personal progress can be made in the moments immediately following an error, whether intentional, accidental or forced.

William George Jordan put the matter of mistakes in a balanced perspective:

There are only two classes of people who never make mistakes,—they are the dead and the unborn. Mistakes are the inevitable accompaniment of the greatest gift given to man,—individual freedom of action. If he were only a pawn in the fingers of Omnipotence, with no self-moving power, man would never make a mistake, but his very immunity would degrade him to the ranks of the lower animals and the plants. An oyster never makes a mistake,—it has not the mind that
would permit it to forsake an instinct.

Let us be glad of the dignity of our privilege to make mistakes, glad of the wisdom that enables us to recognize them, glad of the power that permits us to turn their light as a glowing illumination along the pathway of our future.

The opportunity to make mistakes is in fact a privilege accorded to anyone who seeks to exercise his capacity for free will. Some people are afraid of making choices and prefer to defer their right to others in exchange for security or comfort. Others are driven to make decisions on behalf of as many people as they can get their hands on and the two sides mentioned here tend to come into agreement over time, balancing each other out, but greatly reducing the overall capacity for creative achievement in the process.

If you feel that you have made no mistakes recently, you’re likely not pushing yourself hard enough. When you live on the fine line between the known and the unknown, betwixt that which you’ve mastered and that which is yet new to you, you are bound to misstep every once in a while. That is a good sign! It means you’re moving. Whether it is the right move or not must be discerned but the fact is that you are not stagnant, stuck, and therefore rotting or sliding slowly backward.