We don’t have an absolute control over our body as much as we’d like to think we do. We never know when a disease such as cancer may come our way and ravage our body. We may lose our eyesight due to an illness. We may get injured, disabled or paralyzed in an accident out of the blue.
Neither do we have control over our breath. There’s a belief in Hinduism that our breaths are numbered — the number of breaths given to us in a lifetime is predetermined. I had heard about this notion a few times while growing up, but it really became a conscious thought for me last year when my father passed away. The people who came to pay their respects reiterated this belief that the number of breaths in a person’s lifetime is fixed and we have no control over this. When our time is up, our breath will cease. Whether you believe in this notion or not, we can’t deny that we have very less control over our breath. There’s a chance that it may be taken away from us by someone or something, or we may have a hard time breathing due to a major illness. We never know when we may need to rely on artificial systems in order to breathe so that we survive.
However, there is one thing that we always have control over and that we truly own: our mind. In his personal reflections, Marcus Aurelius wrote, “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.” Our body and breath play crucial roles in our lifetime, one is our vehicle, and one is our source of survival, however, we don’t own them. The only thing that is ours is our mind; and it’ll always be until the end. That’s why, it’s important that we take care of it and treat it right. And whenever our mind needs healing, upkeep or nourishment, we need to make sure that we give it that.