Mind, Body, and Spirit: An integrated approach

As both a healer and essayist + curator, research and writing have always been a part of my practice. In both fields, I am very much an auto-didact and self-directed learning has been buoyed and encouraged by the teachings of my elders, mentors, and fellow practitioners. On the art side, I have delivered two papers at a national and international conference respectively and I have authored four essays, which have appeared in four different publications of national, North American, and international repute. I've not yet published or lectured on healing, but I have commited to regular writing here on this blog as of way of remaining intellectually critical and rigorous. Yes, it is important to me personally; however, it feeds my overall practice.

It is important, however, to note that the intellectual portion of my practice would fall short if it weren't being tested in the domain of making, and empowered in the spiritual domain. This is why I talk to artists regularly. As the makers, without whom none of us would have careers, they are the ones who are the most viscerally connected to art. I am fortunate to know many artists who are also brilliant intellectuals (formally trained and auto-didacts like me), makers, and who, whether they acknowledge or not, are also highly developed spiritualists, regardless of what religious system, if any, they profess.

Here's my point: any practice done well is one that unites in an equitable but delicate balance of the mind, body, and spirit. The mind absorbs the knowledge and ideally creates new knowledge or builds, in a generative manner, the existing cannon. The body does the making be it spiritual work or art work, the hands manipulate, the body bends, feels, and reshapes, many times over until the work is done. The spirit is the guding force that drives one to want to think or make to begin with. It is that invisible push felt in our hearts, and lungs, and stomachs that moves us to activity - to thinking, to sensing, and all over again.

Further, I posit, that notions that compartmentalization works and is freeing are a farce. Neither thinking, making, nor tuning into to the Universe happen in a vacuum. It has been my experience that they happen simultaneously in the right combination needed to get the job done. When I observe my colleagues in the healing realm and artists, especially, I observe, precisely, this. In fact, in some instances, these observations have pushed me to revisit entire bodies of work - music, art, spiritual - in an entirely different manner.

Simply put, if the mind is not activated, it matters not how much making is done, how much spiritual work is brought to a successful conclusion. There is no real movement towards the goal. Humans are organisms comprised of many parts that work at optimum capacity when all parts are working in good concert. We increasingly find examples of this in the health care field. Anxiety and depression are made worse, if not caused by, inflammation in the body. Sustained physical trauma contributes to generational psychosis, in its most extreme, schizophrenia. A forced separation from one's ancestral spiritual grounding, manifests as physical disease.

We are whole systems. Remembering that and healing our fizzures and separations are vital to our ability to live well and continue to think, make, and connect regardless of our interests. For me, where art and healing are concerned, it has been this notion of continuum that always surfaces to remind me of how to think about, do, and manifest my desires.

Negarra A. Kudumu


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