The Vital Marriage of Mind and Body Wellness

By Craig Canfield
February 19, 2019

In the past, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, has proved a Muse to inspire my articles because the place screams of health: the grace of Nature’s canopy of good air descending on the parkers, exuberant dogs with their owners in winded tow celebrating early morning release from their penned up circumstances, people of all kinds and ages circling around and around the 3+ mile circumference of the park.  Whether biking, running,  jogging, race walking, just walking or in wheel chairs, deep breathing yoga practitioners out in the great lawn under the sun or sequestered under the shade of trees, frantic frisbee fetchers, classes of young students learning every kind of exercise and movement…breathing clear, clean air, cleansing the lungs…Health.

OK, maybe it wasn’t Frederick Olmsted, creator of this park that also created the metaphor “parks are the lungs of the city.” But he used the expression to describe Prospect Park: “If these Lungs of the City are not furnished, instead of the healthiest, this will become a sickly place” was written in the NY Times at the end of the 1800’s. So, it was a few weeks ago in celebration of this kind of energy that I found myself there early one Saturday morning. But on that day, even for the Park, the energy was more than I expected. I was new to Brooklyn and had not heard of “Jingle Bell Jog Day”. No mere jogging, these people were joyously running…thousands of them, all decked out in Santa and rain deer costumes…little kids sprinting across the finish lines. What a sight. What spirit. What ritual. Inspirational. The atmosphere, spirit, exudes health.

We as therapists must confront the betrayal of the body, as if it was not connected to the mind, to the Soul. Body first. Then we can begin to talk of conditions, pathologies, complexes, mental problems. Because plain and simple…without your body, you have nothing, and grim as it might seem for a New Year’s note, without your physical health, you could quite unexpectedly be headed for nothing as well. Too often, clients can disappear because not enough heed was taken to medical warnings, to suggestions that besides working on their Psyches, they needed to immediately address their physical health, for without that, there is nothing.

I cannot say that among the costumes I saw on Jingle Day there was any reference to keeping Christ or God in Christmas, but maybe in the powerful movement towards Health, that presence was there all the same. Decades ago I was teaching a Bible class in the basement of a church in which there was a large copy of Ruben’s painting, Paul On The Road To Damascus, a picture of St. Paul knocked to the ground. Weeks later, one morning I went down on my bike. Hitting the ground hard, the distinct words came into my head, “God is Health”, linking my experience to that of St. Paul’s. Was I crazy? The words have haunted me for years.

We find Christmas and Easter links between the Birth and the Resurrection. Is the Resurrection just a promise of immortality after death or does it suggest the importance of a healthy body in the here and now? The author Norman Brown wrote that for Christian theology, eternal life can only be in a body…that hope has been kept alive. If the Kingdom of God is present now (“nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”—Luke 17:21), does the possibility exist for a perfect union of body and mind on this side of the grave?

That just might require that God is Health itself. “Jingle bell, Jingle bell, jingle bell jog.


Craig Canfield, a graduate of the Blanton Peale Institute, counsels teens, adults, and couples at LCC’s Paul Qualben site in Brooklyn.


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