WARNING: This Article Will Change How You See Yourself (Body, Mind, and Spirit)
"I am not this body; I am not even this mind"
As a spiritual aspirant attempting to realize the eternal nature of their own consciousness, you faithfully drone on that mantra. You learned it from an enlightened guru in India, so you know it's legit. "I am not this body; I am not even this mind" you repeat over and over to yourself.
"That's pretty fucking hard to believe," your mind interjects, as your ass falls asleep on the meditation cushion that you bought for $54 on Amazon Prime. The buzzing static in your now paralyzed legs arouses further protest: "are you seriously going to realize your infinite self when you can't even sit still for ten minutes?"
"Shut up!" you think, as an increasingly schizophrenic dialogue develops between you and yourself. "I am NOT this body, and NO, I'm not even this mind chattering away and reminding me of how dead-ass asleep my legs are and how sore my back is, and... oh fuck this, I'm getting up".
Alas, the enlightening benefits of meditation are not yours today, nor were they yesterday, nor shall they be tomorrow. You return to your life, checking your social media, going to your job, seeing the same coworkers, calling the same friends, having the same conversations, eating the same foods, and continually reinforcing the idea of who and what you are through your daily routines and external environment. Instead of the bliss of unchanging Consciousness, you get the mundane repetition of your unchanging identity in your predictable, routine life.
Maybe the guru has another trick, or maybe you need to go start stretching out at yoga classes so your ass doesn't fall asleep. Maybe you need to read more books on non-dual philosophies and meditation so that you know how to "do it better". Maybe you're too attached to your material existence and need to start living as a minimalist. Maybe you should listen to binaural beats to change your brain waves and focus more intensely. Maybe it's Maybelline, and the fact that you thought of that slogan means that maybe you shouldn't watch so much TV and be exposed to so many advertisements that clutter your consciousness.
Like a dog chasing their own tail, you run around in circles trying to overcome yourself, attempting to trick your compulsive, distracted mind into submission to your higher intentions, attacking it from every angle. When you're done whatever new technique or method you've attempted to tame yourself with, you return to the monorail groove of your daily routines, and continue life as it's always been. If you do experience a breakthrough, finally have that "a-ha" insight, there's a burst of energy that lasts a week or two, and then... back to business as usual.
Enlightened on Monday, the same jackass looking at memes in bed for an hour straight on Tuesday.
This "two steps forward three steps back" phenomenon isn't exclusive to spiritual aspirations. Mindset shifts from personal development books and seminars, diets and training regimens in weight loss and athletic pursuits, attempts to communicate more consciously in relationships instead of screaming in a triggered rage at your partner... all of these create a temporary shift, swiftly followed by the deeper imprints of our conditioning taking us back to the way things have always been.
What the hell is going on here? Is lasting change impossible?
I can tell the above story with such gory, vivid detail, because I've lived it out many times, and I know how outrageously frustrating it can be to feel like you're running on a hamster wheel of your own bullshit.
After 8 freaking years of reading hundreds of books, scouring sacred scriptures for insights, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on great coaches, hoarding online courses, taking seminars, and webinars, and more 'nars than you can shake a stick at, I kind of started to get a handle on my own transformation... kinda.
As someone who has let go of a lot of baggage, transformed himself from distracted, emotional-eating, drug using, bipolar narcissistic fuck-up to calm, focused, emotionally grounded, athletic, kind person who is proud of his embodied values, I can attest to the fact that lasting change is possible.
But I also know that change can't last if it's only done on one level of your being (IE, body, mind, or spirit)- because the other levels will bring you back to where you were. That's the origin of Conscious Grounding - taking the insights of the mind and spirit, and grounding them in the body where they can take root in the entirety of your being-ness. It's an integrative approach that mends the inner split you've created between the aspects of self that feel in conflict with one another, and you can come back to the natural state of wholeness that you've forgotten.
Today I'm going to show you how talk about how to actually connect your body, mind, and spirit.
The Body is the Mind is the Spirit
To start, I want to discern that while our body, mind, and spirit may appear as separate entities, they are actually inextricably intertwined with one another, existing unified as one. We look at them as individual discreet aspects to deeper understand the mechanics of each, but ultimately we have to recognize that there is not a fundamental separation between the three.
Your physical body includes your brain, nervous system, and sensory organs, all of which collaborate produce the physical neurochemicals and electrical impulses that make up the mind and emotions. The mind, in turn, can focus to the extent that it can consciously influence the healing, hormonal secretion, gene expression, and neurotransmitter production of the physical body. This is a direct example of how mental energy can affect the physical reality of your existence. It's a "chicken or the egg" situation, where the body creates the quality of mind you experience, and your mind creates the quality of body you experience.
The material components of the body, when broken down from tissues, to cells, to molecules, to atoms, eventually are reduced to pure space and energy. That field of space and energy is the source of everything in the universe, including your consciousness, or what some call spirit. That means that both body and mind are created from and contained within this infinite unified field; they cannot be separate from it.
In a similar fashion, you as an individual entity aren't separate from your environment, be it your home environment, your work environment, your social environment, your digital environment or any other environment. Your exist contextually - think about who you are when you're alone at home, versus when you're interacting professionally with a customer at work, versus when you're talking to your parents, versus when you're on a first date with a lover, versus when you're at a grocery store tuning out everyone as you walk up and down the aisles. Each context demands a different expression of personality and presents a different version of yourself. Based on external cues, you allow different aspects of yourself to come to life.
If you existed in a vacuum, with no outer environment to interact with, no people to relate to, no situations to express yourself in, who would you be? Your personality (the composite of mind and body) wouldn't exist, and there would just be the field of consciousness (unexpressed potential energy).
Your experience of the outer environment creates an inner environment of thoughts, beliefs, neurochemicals expressed as emotions, and as a result, your body experiences an inner homeostasis of personality based on what environment it is in. Who you are eventually becomes habitual instead of consciously directed, as your body returns to homeostasis in reaction to your familiar environments. This is fine, but this is also why creating lasting change can be so difficult - because you're going against the habitual chemical baseline that your body creates through confirming its identity in response to the cues outside of yourself.
Dr. Joe Dispenza (whose work I wholeheartedly recommend) describes it as your environment constantly reminding you about who you've always been, and so you end up living your future as a repetition of the familiar past. Your self-perception is constantly bombarded by the routines and places that you're constantly in, and your identity gets locked in by your attention turned outwards towards your familiar environment.
The Most Important Asset
When attention spills outwards to our environment, we live in reaction to external cues. To save on energy, our brains run automatic programs (habits) that shut down our conscious mind, and run routines in response to pre-programmed prompts to get rewards (which in our brain, is registered as the reward neurotransmitter, dopamine).
As I've talked about in previous articles, we can become desensitized to dopamine and wreck our reward circuits through the repetition of instant-gratification tasks like constantly checking our social media (instant social validation without effort), eating hyper-palatable processed foods (instant caloric rewards without working to acquire it), pornography (instant sexual gratification without the work of courting a mate), and access to immediate and endless entertainment (novelty and stimulation without engagement in the world).
As we become more and more desensitized to dopamine, our capacity to focus becomes diminished, since we don't need to pay attention very long to get these reward signals from our external environment. Our motivation to do more complex and difficult tasks diminishes, and we become conditioned to seek our immediate gratification instead of delaying our rewards. This is why it can feel so hard to peel yourself away from the hypnotic scrolling of an endless social media feed.
The belief of who we are is chemically addictive, and we get our fix by confirming that belief through external cues in our environment. Social media is especially addictive in this sense, because it's founded on a digital image of who we think we are, and is that idea is confirmed every time we open up our profile.
The most important asset that we have in creating deep, lasting transformation is our awareness; our capacity to focus, to consciously direct our energy. In order to cultivate that, we need to pull our attention back from our environment which gives us all these cues that reinforce unconscious behaviours and beliefs about who we are (based on who we've been), and redirect that attention inwards to create intention from the present moment. This is to stop living in reaction to life, and start living deliberately instead.
Yeah, okay, but how?
Fair question, mate. Easier said than done, right?
You might not like the answer, but it's the only answer there is:
Yep, when it comes to living consciously, it boils down to good ol' fashioned, nose-to-the-grindstone, put-in-the-work, daily practice. This is why disciplines like yoga and meditation that are meant to cultivate consciousness are called practices. You don't "do" meditation or yoga, you practice meditation and yoga - which ultimately translates to practicing living from a space of conscious presence.
I'll break down how body, mind, and spirit should all be considered, and then how to build a practice around integrating and nurturing all of them.
Our capacity to pay attention and make deliberate choices are determined by a part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex. It is a very calorically expensive part of our brain to run, and if we're grinding through life using pure will power, over time, it gets exhausted and shuts down to more automatic, less conscious parts of our brain (the ones that are in constant reaction to our external environment).
Any amount of physical, emotional, and mental stress depletes our limited capacity to act from the conscious mind, so it's imperative that we limit the amount of negative physical stressors we have on our bodies to act more consciously.
If we take care of our bodies by getting adequate amounts of sleep, nutrition that nourishes us and doesn't create inflammation, avoid disruptions to our hormones by limiting blue light exposure that we chronically get from our flashing screens, and getting the right amounts of beneficial stress from cold exposure and exercise, then we create the physical vitality that supports the sustained consciousness of our minds.
You probably noticed how when you're tired, you're more likely to snack, and more likely to snap, when you're drunk, you're more likely to do and say stupid shit, when you're sick, you're less likely to have profound moments of insight or be creatively expressive. Physiological well-being inextricably determines the clarity of the mind - the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali describes physical sickness as one of its main obstacles on the road to conscious realization, acknowledging this undeniable link.
Neurotransmitter sensitivity is also a physical phenomenon - dopamine desensitization is something that happens on the level of the brain's neuroreceptors, and the changes in motivation, focus, and attention are actually registered on a physical level. Every time you behave in a certain way, or have repeated exposure to the same environment/people, that repetition reinforces materially tangible networks of neurons that make up your conscious experience. There are real material changes that happen in response to every thought, emotion, and inner sensation you have - the more that you repeat them, the more they become "hard-wired" into your physical being.
Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris points out that once someone begins a meditation practice, they are immediately taken aback by how "their efforts to sustain their attention are buffeted on all sides by a constant barrage of arising thoughts".
Our capacity to sustain attention is often dissipated not only into our external environment, but the inner environment of our thoughts about our lives. Most of our attention is dissipated into the chaotic amalgam of beliefs, concerns, random ideas, to-do's, emotions, stories, and desires. Some of these mental happenings arise from cues in our environment, while at other times they seemingly arise at random. In the same way that we live and react unconsciously to external events, we also live in constant reaction to internal events that we give more credence to than our own deliberate intentions.
"For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy" - Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita
Our mind has immense powers of discernment, and when focused, it can influence the very functioning of our bodies. Thoughts create a chemical response in the body, which are experienced as emotions. For example, the emotions of stress crank up cortisol, adrenaline, and other similar hormones, which can temporarily increase alertness and focus, but ultimately damage the immune system and create chronic disease when chronically elevated.
These hormones associated with the fight-or-flight response also focus your attention on the material reality of your external environment (because that's where we evolved to look for threats). If you think about things that stress you out, you become more reactive to your environment, subconsciously seeking more threats, thus making yourself more stressed, like a self-amplifying feedback loop.
The emotions of gratitude, joy, and love can have a reverse effect - they make your your cortisol (stress hormone) drop dramatically, and your immune system will be strengthened (Dr. Joe Dispenza proved this in a study with 120 participants, where he measured significant increases in a fundamental protein of the immune system called IgA after meditating on feelings of gratitude for 10 minutes, 3 times per day).
If our thoughts and emotions have this much impact on our physical vitality (and our physical vitality impacts our expression of thought/consciousness), then we want our relationship with our mind to be one that is intentional, not in reaction to, and at the whims of randomly arising thoughts.
I'm going to rewind to a question I asked earlier in the article:
"If you existed in a vacuum, with no outer environment to interact with, no people to relate to, no situations to express yourself in, who would you be? Your personality (the composite of mind and body) wouldn't exist, and there would just be the field of consciousness (unexpressed potential energy)."
What people call spirit, I refer to as capital-C Consciousness. It is the awareness that exists prior to thought, prior to emotion, prior to judgements, and prior to relationships with your environment. It's the unadulterated capacity for observation, the dispassionate and omnipresent witness of all experience. Outside of your beliefs about who you are, you exist as this Conscious Field, and from that detached place, you can direct your mind and body to embody the creative potential you have inherent within you.
Spiritual and religious practices (there's that word again) like prayer and meditation are powerful because they come from the place of spirit, bypassing the pre-conceived associations with the self, and connecting to something greater. They ignore the seeming limitations of physical circumstances, and connect to a source of possibility that is transcendent, seeing beyond what appears to be possible. Whether that source of greater power is an external entity, like an omnipotent creator God, or a connection and identity to Consciousness as the primordial matrix of all that is, the goal is to fundamentally supersede reality as it appears to be in this moment.
By going beyond your existing notions of who you are, what is possible, and what your current circumstances are, you cease to focus on who you've already been, you ignore your familiar reality, and create an opening in your point of attention for something new - a reality completely removed from the one that you've been living.
If you want to be someone new, you have to stop being who you've always already been. You do that by going beyond yourself - which you can do by coming from the viewpoint of spirit.
How to Practice
By now you should see that body, mind, and spirit are all fundamental to one another, and that you can't make change to one without at least somewhat affecting the other. It should also explain why if you only focus on creating change on one aspect of yourself (body, or mind, or spirit), then the conditioning on the other levels will drag you back to your original baseline if left unaddressed.
The ideal practice should be a series of disciplines that mutually support this interconnected relationship;
There are integrated practices like yogasana (the postural practice of yoga) that blend physical activity, mental focus, and contemplation of the divine. Mediation practices like the ones offered by Joe Dispenza get you to cultivate focus and attention from the mind, by coming from the viewpoint of spirit, then using that cultivated focus to direct the energy of awareness to increasing the health of your body.
You can also practice by taking inventory of how one aspect of being influences the other; if your mind is foggy and distracted, do an inventory of how your physical health is. Did you sleep enough? Have you eaten to nourish your body? If your body is feeling lethargic or tense, have you spent a lot of time thinking about stressful situations, or exposing yourself to emotionally exhausting media? How much time have you spent living from the place of spirit, where the high view of Consciousness was able to make decisions, versus how much of your day was in reaction, or compulsively seeking quick hits of dopamine?
If you are doing mindset work, ask yourself how you can embody it. If you are training, or dieting in a particular way, observe the way that it affects the quality of your mind, and the ability to consciously direct your behaviours. If you pray daily, witness the sensations that you feel in your body, and how the types of thoughts that you think change during, and after the practice. Inviting the process of one domain of your being into the others can make the practices more integrated.
There isn't one single thing that you can do that's going to encompass all the needs of your body-mind-spirit complex; meditating can affect your hormones, and has even been proven to increase the strength of your muscles through visualization, but it won't give you the same results as eating healthful foods, and going to the gym and actually training. Perfecting yoga postures may increase your ability to focus and strengthen your body, but if you're identified with your ability to do certain poses, or you're constantly comparing yourself to the person on the mat next to you, you won't be able to move past the ideas of who you believe you already are.
This is why I teach habit psychology and build on small daily behaviours that have a big carryover effect to many areas of life. I've talked about my own morning routine of connecting to spirit through meditation, stretching my body in a mobility flow, then centring my mind by trying to keep calm under the freezing waters of a cold shower. That's the first 30 minutes of my day, and centres my awareness to an internal reference point, instead of dissipated in reaction to my environment. I'm practicing directing my mind, and being present and intentional every day, while directly avoiding things that remind me of who I think I am (social media, my to-do list, etc).
Practice understanding that mind is body is spirit - and so that neglecting one aspect is neglecting all aspects. I've been a personal trainer for nearly 8 years, helping people with their training, and nutrition. What's been interesting is that I've usually had to coach my clients around their thoughts and feelings about food and exercise (mind), and help them go beyond their current perception of self (the perspective of spirit) in order to move into a new vision of who they might be. I've called myself a fitness coach, a mental coach, a spiritual life coach, and many funny variations in between. The work I ultimately do is integration leading to actualization. If you know anything about my story, you know it was quite a journey navigating the polarized parts of my character and learning to feel whole in myself.
I genuinely hope that some of my perspectives that I've gained along the way of this journey are of some help to you. I share them because I know they've helped me transform from destitute and self-destructive, to genuinely full of joy, gratitude, and real self love. I know they've helped other people, because I've coached hundreds of people now who have all came into more aligned versions of their authentic being in some capacity.
Specific Practices and Programs
Sometimes information like this can be perception-changing, creating a deeper understanding on the level of the mind, but leaves you unsure of how to integrate it on the level of the body, or viewpoint of the spirit. I should know- I've read hundreds of books whose information I found immensely valuable, but I never put into tangible practice to actually change my life. It drove me nuts that I could accumulate so much information and change my mindset and understanding without any shift in my life outside of the thoughts that I was thinking.
This is why I offer coaching work and programs - to take some of these valuable insights and put them into action, to fully integrate them into the whole of your being, instead of just allow it to sit as impotent, unused information rotting away in your mind.
I'm not currently accepting new clients in my coaching practice, because my schedule is packed as it is with current clients, programs, creative projects, and courses that I'm taking myself. That being said, Conscious Grounding is a new platform that is just starting to grow, and I'm excited to share that I'll be adding a monthly subscription service where I'll be sharing so much more than just articles. Every month, I'm going to be giving subscribers:
A monthly live course on personal transformation
Full nutrition and training plans for upgrading their physical health
Exclusive access to in depth masterclasses and discounts on all new coaching programs/courses
Article content that goes way more in depth on action steps
Workshops with other incredible guest teachers
...and a lot more. Seriously, my mind is buzzing with ideas, and I'm so stoked to be putting this together as an accessible offering for those who have wanted to work in depth with me or have had deeper questions on personal application of the concepts I'm sharing.
The cool part? I'm making it cost less than what most people spend on coffee every month...
Interested in checking it out? I'm currently developing the platform and will be ready to launch very soon - I'm offering a 50% discount to the first 25 people who sign up, which I'll be sending through my e-mail list. If you want to get first dibs, and hear more info about it, scroll to the bottom of your page, and become a subscriber to Conscious Grounding. I send out e-mails every Thursday with deeper personal insights from my own life, and will be announcing the launch of the Conscious Grounding Membership Platform through there.
Can't wait to share with you - in the meantime, if you have any questions about these ideas, or any cool insights of your own, feel free to share them in the comments, or e-mail me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
Big love to your body, mind, and spirit