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Women Living Well: Mind/Body Connection - 2002
Student Papers
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Mind and Body

Sarah Kim

The connection between mind and body is something that has been baffling scholars for as long as the human mind has been actively considering metaphysical concerns, as well as its applications. I remember learning about the mind/body connection (or lack thereof) in philosophy class. The main discussion revolved around whether the mind was based within the 'brain' or some other component that made up the 'mind', something that existed completely independently from the physical body (even the gray matter of the brain). However, for the sake of this class, these concerns were not important or relative. The mind-body connection that did interest us during the course of this Women Living Well seminar was the fact that the way we perceive ourselves, and our bodies is crucial in both mental and physical health. No one denies that there is SOME kind of connection, and this is a matter that even philosophists would not contend. Human beings are not mere machines that will continue to run if given the necessary factors, such as food, rest, etc. It is clear, particularly from the mental health/depression seminar that our mental outlook affects our attitudes, lifestyles, and ultimately general-well being.

Although the idea of being well is defined in many ways, it is obvious that there is more entailed than just being healthy. As with all living things (and not just human beings), interactions with others and our environments are critical in developing a overall sense of well-being, the very thing that enriches our lives and sets us apart from inanimate things, or things with no souls. Thinking of the mind and body as interrelated encouraged me to think more concretely in matters of practice-things that seemed like it would not matter much, but in fact make a very big difference in my health and happiness. Especially in the area of study and our habits that make up about 50% of what we spend our time on, it is important to do it the right way! My mother always warned me to take breaks, to stretch, get exercise and eat properly to be the most effective student I could be. She also urged me to go and have fun sometimes, and this was the mental factor that we talked about. If I were to forgo exercise, eating properly and having some kind of outlet for stress, and denying all kinds of leisure, I might be a 4.0 student, but soon that could very well be affected by a unsatisfaction that has nothing to do with my body, but with my mind. If I forget WHY I am to study, and why I am to strive to do these things, then it becomes unimportant and no matter how much I do study, it is fruitless.

It is much harder to put these ideas to practice. When push comes to shove, it is so easy to neglect things that seem to be unimportant at the time. As I leave Bryn Mawr, I would like to become more long termed in my thinking, and my choices. I want to very conscious and aware of my body, and my mental state.

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