Mind, Body & Spirit
I’d like to share excerpts of two books I’ve been reading as research for my Doctorate program thesis question: How will Integrated Wholeness: physically (exercise and balanced diet), spiritually (intentional prayer and scripture) and socially (support and accountability) promote and maintain perceived well-being in older (45 and above) adult church members? (More info to come on how you can participate in the upcoming ministry project.)
The first book is, “The Wholeness Handbook: Care of Body, Mind, Spirit for Optimal Health” written by Elain V. Emeth & Janet H. Greenhut, M.D. (1991).
The authors define wholeness and holiness as “full realization of the individual in open, dynamic relationship with God, others and all that is. This wholeness or holiness is the goal of the journey…” (p. 29) The key to wholeness is love, love for God, self, and others (p. 30). The book defines what it means to be a healing community, in the practice of vulnerability (p. 211). The challenge of allowing others into our lives and to support those around us is the quest for wholeness: “The reality is that the discomfort of human relationships draws us into greater wholeness” (p. 187).
Holiness is not perfection; it is wholeness. To be healthy and to be holy is to be human. The fully human person contains a whole cast of characters, some of them loving, some wounded, some violent, some creative. As fully human persons, we recognize that we are creatures of God, interdependent with each other, and that we are guests at the generous banquet table (p. 213).
The second book is: “Growing into Wholeness: Putting body, mind, and spirit back together” by Randy Reese M. D. & Frank Minirth M. D. (1993).
Three parts that make up the whole person are intersecting all the time; mentally, spiritually and mentally (p. 18). The authors describe the three parts within the outer person (physical) and inner person (spiritual, mental) as they function and are categorized in scripture (p 23-30). Within the inner person resides the mind that has tremendous potential for creativity, a hallmark of what it means to be made in the image of God. We are incapable of living emotionally and spiritually healthy lives on our own, because of our sin nature. Only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Zach. 4:6) makes it possible to live a life that is pleasing to God (p. 33).
Mental and emotional health comes from a positive attitude, not denying life’s hardships, but seeing the good and beauty in the world. Healthy individuals know they are loved by God and by others. They are comfortable with who they are and feel free to be themselves in front of others (p. 40).
Good spiritual health has parallels with good physical health: eating nutritious foods, breathing clean air, getting adequate rest and regular exercise. The “food” of eating right represents being fed the Word of God, spiritually partaking in reading (breathing in), study and meditating (resting in the Word), application (exercising) of God’s Word leads to vibrant physical and spiritual health (p. 41)
The key problem with maintaining whole-person health is avoiding pain. We try to avoid pain in many ways, like the pain of exercise, in reconciling a broken relationship, or admitting our absolute dependence on God (p. 56). Avoiding pain in one area will eventually spill over into another. Illness is a breakdown in communication, “miscommunication within and between a few microscopic cells, will eventually have an enormous impact on every part of the person” (p. 61)
Both books state that physical symptoms could be a symbol of a spiritual or social unfulfilled need or issue. For instance, “A person who chronically feels unsupported may also suffer chronic back pain (“The Wholeness Handbook” p. 61). Another example, while ulcers present a physical illness, the root cause was spiritual guilt from an extramarital affair, breaking God’s commandment (“Growing into Wholeness” p. 37).
Let’s grow with the help of God into wholeness together