Gem of Wisdom for Daily Reflection: 

Tranquil Mind, Healthy Body

A tranquil mind and a healthy body are intrinsically related. A tranquil mind is a state of mind that is at once relaxed yet mindful. But how can the mind be relaxed if it is preoccupied with emotion, caused by our fixation with attachment and aversion? When the mind is preoccupied with the conceptual images of: what is superior; what is inferior; who likes me; who does not like me; this is what I want people to think of me; this is how I like others to treat me and so forth; it is impossible for the mind to settle into a state of tranquillity and relax.

Students practising Taiji in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Others may believe alcohol or drugs can help them to relax, but no true relaxation can happen this way. A tranquil mind is one that is free from the influence of both chemicals and strong emotion. Chemicals can only dull the mind while strong emotion gives rise to agitation and restlessness.

A truly tranquil mind has the pristine clarity of the undisturbed surface of a mountain lake that, on a windless day, reflects a true mirror-image of its surrounding. When your mind is in a true state of tranquillity, it is relaxed yet alert. It is as if nothing moves, nothing is actually happening, and yet you are aware of everything. When you are in that true state of harmony, your mind will naturally come into stillness.

This level of stillness of the mind is the gateway to peace and harmony. It is this stability of the mind which gives rise to the emergence of insight and the realisation of wisdom. The added benefit of a tranquil mind is the support it provides for a healthy body. A tranquil mind harmonises the bio-physical rhythm of the body into a natural co-ordinated flow, and in the process releases any stagnated tension and stress from within.

Contrary to popular opinion, emotion is not real and we don't have to follow the rise and fall of emotion as if we had no choice. Buddha Dharma explains that emotion arises out of our obsession with our ego. When ego is examined closely, you will discover it is not part of the body or anything that is organic. It is tangible only in so far as we experience a feeling due to the presence of dualistic thought, which is a product of our conceptual mind seeing our self as more important than others. The more we perceive the appearance of ego as real, the stronger we attach our mind to the concept of the "I" and want to hold onto it as if it is permanent. The more we exaggerate the importance of the "I", the greater the focus we place on our self over the needs of others. This obsession with the "I" is what gives rise to the contradictions and conflicts we come to experience in the relationship we have with our self, with others, with our environment and with the world in general.

The more we focus on our ego, the more restless our mind will become and the more imbalance we will set off in our bio-physical state, which produces stress, worry and ill health. Accomplished Dharma masters perceive ego clearly as an illusion and thus are free from the influence of afflictive emotion and enjoy a state of harmony and ease in all aspects of their lives. You too can benefit from their wisdom by following their example. Do not separate your mind from the teaching of Dharma and be proactive in your approach to the ups and downs in daily life. Being proactive does require one to reflect on a better course of action before initiating a response, as opposed to reacting out of habit and compulsion. Establish a true state of tranquillity in your mind and body through regular practice of meditation and other meditative disciplines such Taiji Chuan and Qigong. When your mind and body is awash in the relaxed state of tranquillity, so too will you experience the easing of stress and tension in the body. Slowly but surely, with the support of a tranquil mind, the bio-physical well-being of the body will return to its natural harmonious state. If you can apply this understanding sincerely, you too can attain a tranquil mind and healthy body.