The Daily Stoic for April 23rd. “The mind is all yours”.

“You have been formed of three parts—body, breath, and mind. Of these, the first two are yours insofar as they are only in your care. The third alone is truly yours.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 12.3

I was an atheist from a very early age. When I was just 8 or 9, I asked my mother if I could opt out of religion classes at school. Even as a child, I was convinced that this life is all we have.

Just one year later, my granddad died of cancer. Then some years later, one of my cousins was diagnosed cancer too. I think I was 12 or 13 at the time. That made me well aware, even as a child, of concepts such as my body, taking care of my health, and the unavoidability of death.

I didn’t know back then, but my family seems to be genetically prone to cancer. My mother recently went through a breast cancer and, luckily for us, she survived. However, when you have this family record, you try to be extra careful with your health. I train five times a week, try to eat healthy, don’t eat sugar at all, don’t smoke… I firmly believe that our decisions have a big impact in our lives, specially when the deck is uneven right from the start.

The Mind Is All Yours… And Your Body And Breath Too

That’s why I can’t really agree with today’s stoic meditation:

“It’s not that the other two parts of life that Marcus mentions—our body and our breath—don’t matter. They’re just less “ours” than our mind. You wouldn’t spend much time fixing up a house that you rent, would you?”

Of course our mind is ours -maybe the most special part of us-, but it’s not everything. The fact that you are not in full control of your body doesn’t mean that it’s “less” yours. Definitely not in my opinion.

I also can’t agree that my body is a house that I rent. Not believing in heaven, reincarnation, or any other cosmic or spiritual second chance, my body is the only one I have. It’s the one that’s going to be with me until the moment that I die. And in fact, how well -or not- it gets into old age will determine my quality of life.

I don’t see the point in disregarding our bodies, or our breath, in favor of our minds. You can take care of them all. It’s not like you stop cultivating your mind if you exercise regularly. In fact, it’s been proven that it’s quite the contrary: Exercise helps our minds stay in shape too.

Certainly for me, exercising has many advantages. It helps me relax, focus, and gives me energy.

So yeah, the mind is all yours, and your body and breath too.

Conclusion

I don’t think I can agree with today’s Daily Stoic, “The mind is all yours”. The fact that we don’t have control over our bodies -if we get sick, for instance- doesn’t mean our body is less “us” than our mind. In my opinion, we need to cultivate both. Not believing in anything out of this world, they are all I have, and will be with me until the day I die.

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