Anatomy of Being Human

The body and healing fascinate me. As a massage therapist and yoga instructor I geek out during anatomy classes and have spent countless hours lost in reading, research and continued education to better serve clients and students.

Familiarity with all the parts and pieces of our body, such as knowing its location, purpose and how it interacts with the whole helps us treat the affliction. We ask ourselves, do I need ibuprofen, antibiotics, or a cast? The same applies to a believer. To practice mindful awareness, meditation and detachment in its fulness we must be familiar with how we are created as a whole believer rather than viewing ourselves as fragmented, disjointed parts.

So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them;

Gen 1:27 NLT

Establishing that we are made in the image of God we can more fully understand our make up as we study His. He is the original Trinity.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

1 Thes 5:23 NLT

And we too are triune beings:

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

Mat 28:19 NLT

Almost daily clients will come to my studio seeking body work. I ask them if they are experiencing discomfort and to describe what sort of pain is nagging them. A common example would be low back pain. Very often while they feel the pain in that location the source is actually in another part of the body. I could work all day long on their low back only for the client to leave our session with brief or no relief from pain. However, because I’ve become familiar with anatomy and pain referral patterns I will test the iliotibial band, hamstrings, gluteus, and piriformis muscles for tension which many times are the culprits in low back pain. Once the root issue is treated the referring pain subsides and the body heals.

We have similar experiences at play among our triune parts. Pain referral patterns are not just limited to fascia in the body. You may have had an emotional trauma which has scarred over but the pain referral may manifest in your ego, perhaps exhibiting jealousy, insecurity or control. This is where mindful awareness comes in to play. We can observe how an event transpiring in one part affects another. More on this later!

In books and articles, conversations with friends and even teachings by church leadership we often hear the words soul and spirit used interchangeably. Today I make the case that they are distinct functioning parts of our living being and challenge you to identify the trinity within yourself: Spirit, soul and body. To understand the borders and interactions between them will help in the pursuit of spiritual disciplines.

The great writers of the Bible speak distinctly about our spirit, soul and body:

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Heb 4:12 NLT

As children we sang that nursery song learning to identify our body parts. But as we mature and begin to understand our complexity (Ps 139:13-16) we ask the question theologians and philosophers have asked throughout the ages: What is a human being?

One day the Eternal God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.

Gen 2:7 Voice

As the breath of God (His divinity) collided with Adam’s body two things happened: the breath became man’s spirit and the union of body and spirit created the soul. This is the precise location where we make the choice. We can live life by the spirit or live by the flesh.

Watchman Nee gives a clarifying description of how these three elements intermingle. “If we put a drop of ink into a cup of water, the ink and the water mingle together and become ink-water. You can say that it is ink; it is indeed ink. You can also say that it is water, for it is still water. The ink and the water are integrated together and have become a third thing—ink-water.” (the Spiritual Man section 1, chapter 1)

The Body

We can grasp quickly that the makings of the body are flesh, blood and bone. The body is where we experience and communicate with the world through our five senses and where expression of the soul presents itself, as with love. The physical manifestation for love might be a hug for example.

The Soul

This is the realm that houses our intelligence, our will and our affections and desires. Here we express our personality and the ego can flourish or diminish. It is the battleground between the Spirit and the Body. We take in knowledge either through the body or through the spirit and choose a path, make judgments and create attachments.

The Spirit

Noticing these movements in our depths will help us locate our spirit: You have a gut feeling. This is your spirit. When you feel that twinge facing a decision between right and wrong. This is your spirit. Hearing God call you to enlightenment, or breathing a prayer. This is your spirit. It is the eternal part of the human experience. To have intuitive knowledge, a discerning conscience and ability to befriend God is our resplendent, breath inspired spirit.

As you are seeing it is vitally important in our journey to understand the distinct functions of our tripartite nature. Next we will continue this conversation regarding the Temple of the Holy Spirit to understand enlightenment.

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