Mind-Soul-Body Wellness: A Holistic Approach

Anthony Joseph Scuderi

The key to a healthy mind is to have a well-developed body and an intact spiritual life. The incorporation of these three elements lends itself to holistic health care. Even though Judo Therapy is meant to be an effective psychotherapy, it is also a powerful tool used to develop the body and the spirit.

The mind, soul and body for purposes of this discussion shall be called the human trinity. The human trinity is made up of three distinct elements (the mind, soul and body) in one healthy person. If any of these parts is missing or unhealthy, there are disequilibria in the system that causes the individual to experience distress in the form of a mental illness, physical disability or injury, or feeling of spiritual abandonment.

The mind exists, but we do not know exactly what it is or how it works. It cannot be dissected, observed or viewed with the human eye. The mind is not the brain. It is not a muscle or neuron. It is a spiritual essence that exists in the human person stimulated, possibly, by electrical impulses and neurochemical changes, nonetheless this is just mere speculation. The mind is the seat of wisdom guiding the human person’s decision-making processes, governing thought processes, maintaining memory storage and it is the spiritual link between this world and the divine. The development of the mind begins at conception and continues to develop and grow until we die.

Our parents are our first teachers and role models helping us to understand and work through the complexities of life. Through direct observation, modeling and practice, we begin to process information, make decisions and eventually think on our own. The environment plays a role in the development of the mind. We observe things around us, and through trial and error interact in the world. We go to school and learn to broaden our life-skills and think critically. Our mind begins to think, “kink” and process all that we encounter in life. That which was once abstract and ambiguous eventually becomes unambiguous and less abstract. We are taught to think in different ways and start to understand that there are other people around us with minds that will disagree with our personal lines of thinking, decision making or relational skills. Periodically, our mind enters a state of chaos and confusion; we begin to realize that as we interact with people who think different from us, the human person finds the need to defend him or her self. The mind begins to grow and develop forcing each person to make critical decisions determining present and future actions. The defensive mind assesses a situation in life. The person either reacts immediately or, in a calculated manner, evaluates the possible outcomes of their actions in the scenario, and then acts. At times, the drive to defend may exacerbate a situation, at other times, the drive to defend leads to compromise and mental growth. If someone does not agree with another’s line of reasoning the mind immediately goes into a defensive posture, This posturing leads to debate, agreement, disagreement or the ability to agree to disagree.

As a neurochemical mechanism in flux the brain is constantly changing. When an emotion is experienced, chemical changes occur in the brain. Periodically, the homeostasis of the brain becomes unbalanced. These changes affect the entire human system (mind-spirit-body).

When the person begins to think and believe that they are worthless, hopeless, helpless unwanted or unloved, and begins to lose sleep, eating habits change, the libido (sex drive) decreases and may become suicidal, over a two week strait period of time, we say the person is depressed. At times talking through the feelings will change the mindset and depression lifts allowing the thought process to change and the mind heals. Other times, there is a chemical imbalance and medication is needed. The medication, in the form of antidepressants, changes the chemistry of the brain, which in turn, changes the thought processes allowing the person to function more normally. Still other times, in situational or less severe depression, vigorous activity with concomitant psychotherapy will lift the depression. In these instances SCJT is appropriate. Sometimes, dysfunctional chemistry or brain structure may be associated with mental health issues causing the person to hear voices or see things (visual or auditory hallucinations). The individual may begin to think that the radio or TV is communicating with them, or other people are out to get them. When this mental imbalance occurs, we call this, schizophrenia. Depression, anxiety and aggression (anger) can be associated with the illness. When the brain is diseased with schizophrenia talk therapy has little effect. In these instances SCJT is not appropriate and the clinician may need to consider another milieu such as day treatment (if needed) but definitely pharmacologic intervention through a psychiatrist.

As a Systems Centered Judo Therapist, it is important that mental illness is appropriately diagnosed and treated. If the art of judo is not the correct milieu, use other means for treatment SCJT can be used in numerous situations. Children taking judo can be in conflict, argumentative, or experiencing typical childhood and adolescent conflicts such as academic issues, parent issues, relationship issues, and generation gap issues. In these cases the SCJT format would include a judo class followed by group therapy after class and then individual therapy later that week, Using this strategy, the ailing student receives physical exercise to release stimulating neurotransmitters to assist in the amelioration of depressed symptoms, cope with anger by creatively diverting the negative energy and balancing the sprit through meditation and embodying the principles of judo as outline in Chapter 1 of this research. What is the Psychospirituality of Judo? Simply put, it is an encompassing philosophy of a person’s continual life-long inner journey and discovery in an effort to incorporate one’s spiritual beliefs and individual psychology using Judo as the path on the journey.

The human person is made up of three major elements, flesh, bone and spirit. To really understand what it means to be fully human, individuals must reach deep inside them and look beyond the obvious. The post-resurrection theology of the Roman Catholic Church, in the Gospel of John (Jn. 20), illustrates the experience of a group of people who were emotionally wounded when their teacher, friend and master was persecuted and put to death. The story tells us that Jesus appeared to all the men except Thomas who was traveling at the time. Thomas eventually arrived in the room but only after the vision of Jesus was gone. When the followers told Thomas of the event, he did not believe them. Instead, he told them that he would not believe until he placed his finger in the nail marks in his hands and placed his hand in the wound in his side. Jesus appeared to Thomas, asked him to place his hands in his wounds. Thomas believed.

In John 20:29, Jesus addressed Thomas in these words, “You became a believer because you saw me. Blest are they who have not seen and have believed” (NAB, 1975). Everyone carries emotional wounds. Some wounds are so deep that they have left permanent scars in need of healing that no psychotherapy can perform. In these times divine intervention is essential. The belief in a higher power will help bring hope and healing in what appears to be a rather hopeless and helpless situation. Once healed, the stricken person is in a place where he or she can become a wounded healer with the ability to empathize, join with others and help uncover the unseen wounds allowing this unseen power to enter into their heart and heal.

Unlike the visual scars left from a skin incision, emotional scaring is not visible to the human eye. Emotional scaring however, is very devastating. It can lead to depression, psychosis or even suicide. At times, a well grounded therapist with a deep sense of the Divine can help the emotionally scarred look at their wounds and see not the distortion, but the healing powers of God, an entity seen not through the human eye, but seen with the spiritual eye. Belief in one’s higher power will help in ways that no human being is able to assist. The key to this spiritual healing is to believe, without seeing, that your God does exist and can help you overcome your psychological wounds. Dr. Kano talked about harmony. In order to achieve harmony of the mind, spirit and body we must come to an appreciation that what we physically encounter in daily life, philosophically speaking, is only a mere impression of what truly exists. The true resides in the mind of the creator regardless if the creator is divine or human. The core of who we are is power energy force that Eastern cultures call, Chi, or inner force. Religion calls this inner force, spirit. The Greek culture refers to this as Agias Pneumas (agios Pneumatos), or the Holy or Sacred Wind, which translates to The Holy Spirit.

Kano, throughout his life, strove to tap into that inner Chi, that Sacred Wind, to discover himself and tap into energy thus becoming the best person and judoka that he can be. Spirit cannot be seen with the human eye, nor can it be felt wit the human hand. Nonetheless, the mystical human heart can touch spirit. When the spirit is discovered, experienced and expressed outwardly, we begin to develop what Kano calls, “ The harmonious development and eventual perfection of the human character.”

On the back cover of his book, Personhood, The Art of Being Fully Human, Leo Buscaglia states that the, “discovery of self is a universal quest and a state of being that brings with it the power to experience the texture of life with greater intensity and sensitivity” (Buscaglia, 1978).

Buscaglia appears to be saying that in order to discover who “I” am as a person, is a task that takes a lifetime to accomplish and even then it does not actualize until “I” become perfected in the image and likeness of the Creator. Throughout his life, Kano strove to discover himself through his judo. He tried to reach deep inside his being and discover a power that only he possessed and was able to express in his techniques.

Spirituality needs work. A person does not automatically have a personal relationship with his or her God. The relationship needs to be worded on, developed and fine-tuned to the point where the individual can not only say, but also experience the divine communicating with them. It takes years to develop this relationship, and even after the relationship is developed it must be nurtured in order for it to stay fresh, alive and well. It takes dedication to oneself and discipline in prayer to develop a healthy spirituality. The same applies to judo. The literature on the life of Jigoro Kano talks about the intensity Kano would practice judo. He would come home bruised so often after hours and hours of working out. In his early years of learning jujitsu, Kano would be so dedicated to the art that he would have dreams about the art. He would be sleeping and calling out the techniques in his sleep. He would kick the covers off himself while dreaming about the techniques, forms, and competition. Kano was joined with the art so much that he did nothing but eat, sleep, and dream jujitsu and later judo. His art became so embedded in himself that he and the art could not be separated. It is the same with spirituality. The intensity of Kano’s dedication to the art is a perfect metaphor for what is needed to develop a holistic spirituality with the divine or with a martial art. The relationship must be so total that one cannot differentiate between the person and the art and their God.

It is the same with spirituality. The intensity of Kano’s dedication to the art is a perfect metaphor for what is needed to develop a holistic spirituality with the divine or with a martial art. The relationship must be so total that one cannot differentiate between the person and the art and their God. We begin to discover who we are as individuals through interactions with other people sharing common interests. It is through these interactions that we discover a common thread forming the fabric of our lives giving us all the necessary resources we need to achieve a self-actualized existence and an inner peace. Once we discover this inner peace and harmony, we begin to recognize our personal values as human beings who recognize our strengths and can cope with our weaknesses. When this is accomplished, the true spirit of judo, as Kano intended it to be, i.e., The harmonious development and eventual perfection of the human character, exists. Allan Watts (Judo the Gentle Tao, 1997), wrote the following about Lao-tsu on the philosophy of the strength of weakness.

“It is a strange thing, I think, how it is men in the West do not realize how much softness is strength. One of old Lao-Tzu’s favorite analogies was water. He spoke of water as the weakest of all things in the world, and yet there is nothing to be compared with it in overcoming what is hard and strong. You can cut water with a knife. It lets the knife go right through, but when the knife is withdrawn there’s not even a trace of wound” (Watts, 1997).

Judo spirituality recognizes the strength and resilience in the weakness and frailty of the human person. No matter how strong a person may aspire to be physically, the spirit of the human person, like water is Lao-Tzu’s analogy, can overcome what is hard and strong. For example, the former Mr. Universe, Arnold Schwartzennegger a man with great physical prowess and power needed open heart surgery. Schwartzennegger’s body was like the water, powerful, yet very weak. Nonetheless, he survived the surgery and continued entertaining people.

Watts puts it nicely when he says, “If he (a person) can allow himself to be weak, he can allow himself what is really the greatest strength, not only of human beings, but of all living things” (Watts, 1997). In the Christian and Buddhist traditions, strength is found in the person’s weaknesses. By focusing on the weakness in a person, and calling on the divine to enter into that weakness, the person finds a power, the sacred wind, or internal Chi, which tends to diminish the once thought weakness, strengthening it and uncovering yet another weakness only to be spiritually overcome.

Through the study of judo, the person comes face to face with their weaknesses on several levels. Physically weakness is easily demonstrated when two competitors rondori. One wins, the other loses. Emotionally, weakness is demonstrated when one has a difficult time focusing on what the sensei (teacher) is instructing, or cannot handle defeat at the hands of a lower ranked competitor. In these cases, the ego gets in the way and the focus of strength is lost. When elements of confusion, as this researcher calls them, come into the human spirit, it causes the person become off balance (Kuzushi, in Judo terms). Focus on the inner self and center of Chi is lost. The person goes into a state of disequilibria and the weakness arises. Judo helps the person focus. It allows the person to interact with another person who sometimes unknown to them, is the teacher to the other, pointing out the parts most n need of strengthening. For the serious judoka, this means that concentration, practice and a centering prayer, which allows him or her to get in touch with that power greater than them that can lead to the harmonious development and eventual perfection of the human character.

When a judoka walks on the mat he or she is taught to walk in a special way. This way takes them out of the normal way they would walk and forces them to center on their Chi spot located two inches below the naval called the Ton jol or Tan tien. It is here that the student begins to learn balance. In SCJT the student focuses on this area in his or her time of distress and learns in class and in therapy how to focus using their spiritual essence, their Chi to alleviate depression, anger and anxiety.

When the judoka can touch his or her spiritual self and learn by their mistakes, and not repeat the same mistake twice, inner harmony is being developed. If learning is not accomplished, the person lives in disharmony. When the judoka can touch their spiritual self and learn by his or her mistakes to the point where the mistake is not repeated, inner harmony is being developed. If learning does not take place, disharmony comes about which causes injury both physically and spiritually.

The spirituality of judo comes in part from learning from our mistakes. The National Judo Institute put it nicely in their publication, Stars of Our Souls when they wrote, “The loser can take joy in a vast range of techniques sought and mastered. In just being a part of our great effort, in a series of silent victories known only to himself over every sin and weakness known to man” ( NJI, (1985) Start in Our Souls¸ Paragraph 9).

The silent victories are personal accomplishments from hard work. It matters little if you do well, or not do well in a rondori or in life. But, if, in your heart of hearts, you know you have done your best, then you really haven’t lost. You will have learned a valuable lesson about yourself, life and your interactions with others, (whatever that lesson is only you can determine). The facts show that you have learned more about yourself and how to overcome difficulties in your life and how to work a little harder to achieve your goal when the barriers of life present themselves to you, then the person who won the match and learned very little about themselves. It is through this personal affirmation that the judoka or patient begins to understand the process of individuation (being a person unto themselves making decisions for and by themselves without others telling them what to do or seeking approval every time a decision needs to be made), and the gentle way. It is this student, regardless or rank, who has an appreciation for God working in his or her life and in the lives of others. It is this technique that the NJI calls, “A star of joy in our soul” (NJI (1985), Paragraph 12).

A personal spirituality of judo brings us closer to self-appreciation and individuation. Once we recognize our holiness and how our Higher Power (God) can work through each of us, on or off the mats, then we begin to respond in the depths of our hearts to the true spirit of the Kodokan.

Through interacting with others, we discover our own uniqueness as people capable of relating on different levels with many people. This form of social intercourse is not unlike the interactions the disciples of Jesus had with those whom they ministered to, or the disciples of Lao-tzu whom he spoke to and inspired then and now. It may be thought that the true judoka becomes a minister to his or her fellow player through the assimilation of personal feelings, prayer and sensitivity to the needs of those around him or her through constant self-discovery and centering. Once mastered, this assimilation of self-discovery and centering on the Chi, creates in the judoka a real sense of the harmony Dr. Kano speaks about in the development of the human character.

The challenge is not necessarily the judoka we face within our very being as we journey through life. Longing for inner harmony, preparing our hearts to be at peace with all of nature, and learning to appreciate the Spirit of God (our higher power however we know it to exist) in all that exists is the foundation of a deep Judo Spirituality.

Regardless of where we may be in our life stages and development, we have the ability, if we choose, to quiet ourselves down and to meditate, or bring ourselves to a state of prayer or contemplation. Once in this state we become at peace with our surroundings. The stresses, trials and tribulations of everyday life tends to fade away because we have drawn on our inner resources tapping the wellspring of our inmost spirit.

The spirit of judo calls us to a personal transformation creating a totally new creation. In the Christian tradition, believers look to Jesus of Nazareth as the model of the perfect human as do the Taoists look to Lao-tzu and the Buddhists look to Buddha and the Muslims look to Muhammad whereas other religions look to whoever their spiritual master may be. For the judoka we look to Jiguro Kano, not as a god, but as a spiritual leader who will journey with us throughout the ages to develop in us that harmony between humanity and divinity however we experience the divine.

It is through the passions of the human person that we are able to tap into our inner strength and reach out to others with a helping hand. It is the Spirit of our God that defines the human character making it into the Imago Dei (Image of God) making it perfect, as God is perfect. The spirit of our God is powerful! If we can center in on this source of strength and channel it through our abilities as serious judo players, then we indeed shall be true winners, trophy or not. Claiming and using our spiritual resources is a value we must never fall short. In forgetting these values, we will be allowing the essence of life to pass us by. To forget our origin in God is to forget ourselves. If we as children of our chosen God disregard the gifts God has given us through God’s Holy Spirit, then we are indeed committing a grave sin against the Holy Spirit. This sin is very serious and unforgivable.

The true judo master does not have to be a black belt, but he or she does have to learn humility. To be a humble judoka means to accept ourselves and all others for their shortcomings and gifts. If a Judoka has difficulty learning, it is the sensei’s duty to exercise patience or be honest with the student and dismiss the student from the club gently if that be the last resort. The harmoniousness development and eventual perfection of the human character is achieved only through patient understanding of our own faults and failures and an appreciation for others imperfections and gifts. Remember the golden rule, “Treat others the way you would have them treat you” (RSV Bible: Gospel of Matthew 7:12). By treating people as we wish to be treated, others will respect and admire us. They will look to us for guidance, support, nurturance and wisdom.

Once harmony is established in the human character, a spiritual awakening and being emotionally grounded will take effect. The judoka soon will discover that he or she does not have to over tax their minds on useless strategy. Techniques will flow naturally because of the inner peace and harmony experienced between themselves, their God and creation.