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Is your body different than the body of someone from a different part of the world? Of course not, but different cultures have different theories about the body. The concept that the body and the mind are one is an easy concept for the Easterner. The physical body is merely one of several "bodies." It's a temple to house the spirit but should be well-tended and rigorously cared for because of the importance of what it holds. The astral body is the vehicle of the spirit and is maintained through breathing, meditation, and concentration. The causal body is the place where the spirit works. The ego is absent from the causal body, and the spirit can know its true potential here. Ideally, the spirit transcends all bodies and becomes pure consciousness, an individual expression of the divine. To the traditional Easterner, the mind/body is sacred, not to be abused, but to be used as a vehicle for the spirit's expression, which results, finally, in enlightenment.

On the other side of the spectrum is the Westerner. Traditionally, the Westerner sees one part of the self at a time. The body is the body. Healthy food keeps it running, and exercise keeps it strong. End of story. Then there is the mind. The mind is the source of intelligence and thought. Activities that stimulate the mind, from philosophical conversations to crossword puzzles, keep the mind active. End of story. Then there is the spirit. The spirit might be nurtured and maintained by going to church or by a personal philosophy or spirituality. In many, the spirit is ignored. End of story.

Westerners have certainly survived—and thrived. So why should we change a system that works? Because it keeps us off balance. Westerners are movers and shakers, yet many of us exist on the edge of health and sanity, surviving on caffeine, nicotine, and sugar, wracked by stress and saddled with materialism, ego, desire, and greed. We need something to even us out, calm us down, and get us in touch with ourselves again. Don't believe that this will slow you down or make you less effective. Integrating mind, body, and spirit can only make you a better and more effective, productive person—Westerner or Easterner.

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