Most people think of themselves as a single being, distinct from others. This is my body, these are my private thoughts, and this is how I feel. However, this is just a set of ideas, a story we tell ourselves.
And I’m not taking a spiritual approach here but one leaning more on science. Your body is an assemblage of trillions of cells, each with their own life and life cycle. They come and go at various rates but overall, our body almost completely replaces itself within 7 years.
(The cosmic body is similar, only that is a body composed of all the other bodies.)
Essentially, we are a community. There is some central management but a lot of it is “sub-conscious” and unrelated to our ideas of who we are.
Your body hosts an even larger number of microbes, many of them beneficial. We depend on them for digestion, for example.
In some ways, our gut is like a garden. What we eat encourages the microbes that break down that type of food. When we’re hungry, it’s actually the gut flora that are asking for food. “Listening to the body” is often listening to the appetite of the flora. There are more neurons in the gut than our brain, leading to the idea of a “gut brain.”
For example, if we eat a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs, we’ll encourage flora that thrive on that. And that type of flora will ask for more of the same.
This may not be what the body actually needs. Thus, listening to our appetite may not be the best advice if our eating habits are lame.
Yet eating philosophically can also be a weak approach. The mind likes to think it knows, but it rarely knows the body well. There is no one size fits all. If we lead the body with a story, this may ignore what it actually needs. Many diets, for example, don’t have the diversity to include all nutrients. Even a healthy diet can cause imbalance. This is where advice like traditional medicine can be useful.
Western allopathic medicine is great for diseases, cuts, and broken bones but doesn’t handle chronic or systemic issues well. Approaches like Ayurveda or Chinese medicine are more whole-body centric. Restore the balance in the physiology and the body will heal itself.
When we first go on a diet, we often get cravings. These are the gut flora complaining. But if we’re not feeding them, they stop reproducing and in a few days fade in number.
Ironically, the siren call for more doesn’t actually come from our body at all…
Similarly, our mind is a field in which activity causes the experience of thoughts. This activity can come from below in the form of body sensations and activity, emotions, and reactive impulses that cause thoughts. It can also be triggered by environmental effects as our mind and energy are not isolated inside the body. Activity can also come from the mind itself, responding to experiences and digesting them. And it can come from “above” in the form of inspiration, intuition, and the movement of the divine.
But this activity is simply movement and response. Most of our thousands of daily thoughts are just noise from processing experiences, anxiety, unresolved emotions, and an unsettled physiology. The higher impulses show us the mind isn’t local. It’s rooted here but is an aspect of a much larger field in which everything is arising.
We have never been separate beings or individuals. We are a community physically, mentally, and cosmically. Part of the adventure of spiritual unfoldment is discovering these layers of our reality.