Two days before I began my ride across America to raise awareness and money for diapers, I talked with my coach, Chris Bagg. He had only been coaching me for 3 weeks, but his training schedule had made it possible for me to at least begin the ride with a reasonable certainty that I could complete it. In this last conversation before the onset of the ride, he talked about the mind body connection. He warned me there would be times my body would hurt. When the pain becomes intense, the mind has the option of telling the body to continue or to quit. So Chris had me think about images I would visualize at such times that would divert my attention away from the pain and allow me to complete the ride. He also told me to focus on the process – the next 10 pedal strokes. This would give my mind something else to focus on while improving my form at the same time.
So this is what I did. When the pain in my legs or my back or my neck became the focus of my thoughts, I chose to visualize Mount Rainier or the beaches of Hawaii. I focused on the mechanics of my pedal strokes. I focused on the most vulnerable in our society and the increased abuse of the infants who are not appropriately diapered. It was an amazing experience. As I focused on the needs of others, the beauty of God’s creation, and the calling I had to take this message across the country, I always had the strength to complete any ride on any day. I completed 108 miles in oppressive heat in Washington state, stiff head winds going to Yellowstone, the monotony of Kansas, the 18% grades in the Appalachian mountains, and the horrific traffic in northern Virginia. Without the mind body connection, I would not have been able to complete this ride.
We read in Luke 2:52 that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” What a picture of health! We were created to function holistically as a single unit with a perfect blend of the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of life. And so when Jesus described His death to the Greeks who saw life as divided between an immortal soul that transmigrates from one being to another at death and a mortal body that simply houses that soul, He said the following in John 12:24… “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus, who is described in Luke 2:52 as a living Being who is an integrated whole of body, mind, soul, was to lay down His integrated life so that we could do the same and experience His transforming resurrection power to become a “new creation” as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17. We need every aspect of our being to overcome sin and bear the fruit of the Spirit that naturally develops in our new life with Him. This is the mind body connection at its best. When we understand the power of this connection as the integrated beings we are, we experience God’s power in our lives. And we can then “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Have you discovered the mind body connection? If not, I highly recommend you do!