When to trust my body and when to trust my mind
If I am sleepy, then I should be sleepy. How can I be anything other than what I am? I can apparently become something other than what I am right now by changing over time. This is the dynamic nature of the physical reality in which we live. But how do I change over time? What causes the change?
Sometimes it's myself causing my own change. What part of myself causes the change? Sometimes it’s a thought. When I am sleepy, it’s a thought that says, “I need to get out of bed.” The thought could be one of obligation: “I need to go to work.” The thought could be societal pressure: “Everyone else has already gotten out of bed.” The thought could be a value judgment: “It's lazy to stay in bed too long.”
The other causes come from more natural parts of myself. I am sleepy, but I am also hungry. And these two desires play tug-of-war until one wins and then I follow the direction of the stronger natural desire.
Of the two, of the thought causes and the natural causes, natural causes are more aligned with the flow of life. If my mind will step out of the path, my body can proceed along, following the route of the natural causes that move me, both from within my body and from outside of my body.
But even this dichotomy, between thought causes and natural causes, may be an illusion. Perhaps the thought causes are also just natural causes.
The reason I said before that the thought causes are not natural is because they can be random, chaotic, not based in a consistent and natural flow of life. For example, for as long as I am a living being, I will get hungry and I will get tired and I will eat and I will sleep. With thought causes, however, there is not this consistency. I could at one point in my life be caused to change by a thought like “I want to do well in school” and that thought causes me to behave in certain ways, e.g., reading books, going to lectures, studying. But then later in my life I might no longer value performance in school. But even in this example, I see that the dichotomy must be an illusion.
Thought causes are just natural causes. Perhaps they seem unnatural because they are nebulous. Most humans have not risen to the level of enlightenment to fully understand the inner workings of the human mind. We are approaching this from different angles. The Eastern tradition is meditation and spirituality. The Western tradition is psychology and neuroscience.
Perhaps in the same way that we have learned about the natural causes that move the physical body, we will also attain a similar level of understanding for the natural causes that move the mind. With this understanding, will the alignment between thought causes and natural causes become apparent to us? Will it seem then that thought causes fall into the flow of natural causes?
There's a certain tiered system of the human being that various sources seem to have agreed on. The physical is the first tier. The mental is the second tier. The spiritual is the third tier. If we accept this system, then it makes sense where we are at in our evolution as a species. We are somewhat beyond the physical. Now, we are mostly concerned with the mental. And we are reaching toward the spiritual.
Bringing it back to what I was thinking about in the beginning: I'm not always sure when to trust my body and when to trust my mind. Sometimes they lead me in opposite directions and it is like I am at a fork in the road. I have to decide which path to take. I would prefer if my mind and my body were always in agreement and then there would be one path. I would walk along happily. I would even run along it, making much more progress than I do when I have to go a certain way down one path, only to realize that I took the wrong way, turn around, come back to the fork, and then take the other.
Most of the time, I think it makes sense to trust the body. That is the more natural intelligence. But sometimes the mind knows something that the body doesn't. Like when I cross the road, I know there might be a car coming. I don't think my body knows that. I think my mind has learned that.
Where the dichotomy breaks down is that the mind is part of the body. Science tells us this in terms of neurochemistry and the nervous system. I also feel intuitively that it is true. I seem to exist up in my skull when I'm thinking. Even now, as I close my eyes and speak this aloud into my transcriber, I feel that I'm in my head. How can I let that energy flow into the rest of my body? How can I let that intelligence exist in my arms and my legs and my torso?