The physical body is in a sense only one of our “bodies.” According to Huna and other spiritual teachings, we also have a spiritual body, a mental body, and an emotional body. The spiritual body, or consciousness, is the most powerful of the four and the most simple. It is the One and the source of all that follows. In some practices, the physical body is seen as something to conquer, to overcome. Personally, I think that is a misunderstanding. We were born into our bodies for a reason. It’s the vehicle by which we can navigate material existence and therefore learn all that this plane can teach us. Without it, where are we? Just as we take care of our cars so they will continue to get us where we want to go, we need to care for our bodies.

Our mental body is the next most powerful. “As we think, so shall it be.” “Thoughts in mind produce after their kind.” “Mind over matter.” Unfortunately, in terms of physical health, some of us have taken that “mind over matter” to an extreme. Mentally, we feel strong and eager to attain certain goals, so we drive our bodies farther than they should be driven. We ignore the body’s signals until those signals have progressed to debilitating disease.

Our emotional body also has a strong, and sometimes not positive, impact on the body. It’s now common knowledge that allowing our emotions to stay in a stressed or angered or depressed state does incredible harm to our physical bodies. Through the cortisol, these emotions releasing is meant to have positive effects (a quick burst of energy for survival reasons, heightened memory functions, a burst of increased immunity, lower sensitivity to pain). But when we hold on to negative emotions, that constant flow of cortisol becomes toxic. Repercussions include impaired cognitive performance; suppressed thyroid function; blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia, decreased bone density, decrease in muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, and lowered immunity; and inflammatory responses in the body. To top it off, unhealthy amounts of cortisol are connected to increased abdominal fat, which is associated with heart attacks and strokes!

Our physical bodies are the most complex, yet least powerful of our bodies. Yet, the impact flows not only downward from other bodies to the physical, but also upward from our physical bodies to our other bodies. For example, studies have shown that high consumption levels of sugar-containing soft drinks were associated with mental health problems among adolescents even after adjustment for other factors. So doing physical things to increase our level of physical health directly affects our emotional and mental health.

Your body is the sacred vessel that houses your consciousness. In order to truly flourish, all of our bodies we must be treated with respect.