Sometimes, mindfulness is defined as ‘mind’ observing ‘body’. It is good to remember that this is just a way of speaking. There is no such thing as a disembodied ‘mind.’ We are a ‘whole person’ process, whether we are aware of it. Mindfulness refers to our embodied experience of this ‘whole person’ process.
The words’ body’, ‘mind’ and ‘spirit’ come to us from a long tradition of seeing a fundamental discontinuity: According to it, thoughts, feelings, and spirit are intangible, whereas the body is tangible. But the ‘body’ is not just a bunch of bones, muscles, and organs. A living body is very different from a corpse: It is in a constant process. Think about the visual of a hospital room with monitors showing all kinds of continuously flowing curves. When there’s a flat line, the person is dead.
The living body is in a constant process
The living body is continuously interacting with its environment through a whole range of processes. The processes involved range from some we share with the most basic life forms to the most sophisticated (such as our ability to assess situations, learn from experience, etc..).
So, the living body is not just ‘soma,’ as something separate from the ‘psyche,’ the mind. It is a ‘mindful body.’ Our real sense of self is rooted, not in ideas or thoughts, but in a ‘feeling of what happens’ bodily experience. Mindfulness refers to our ability to experience the ‘felt sense’ of what happens.
Conversely, what we call mind would better be described as a process rather than a thing. Daniel Siegel, MD, author of The Developing Mind and The Mindful Brain, defines the mind as “an embodied and relational regulatory process.” See conversation with Daniel Siegel.
In other words: ‘body’ and ‘mind’ are not different entities, but aspects of a ‘whole person’ process: the process of living as a human being.