Almost always, it is best for our body and mind to be in sync. Meaning, whatever our body is doing, the mind should be focused on that activity.
This is a key conclusion I've reached after becoming churchless following several decades of believing the opposite: that mind was a separate entity from body, and it was desirable to view the contents of consciousness as distinct from bodily goings-on.
Back in those dualistic days, when I embraced an Eastern "leave this world and find a better one" meditation approach, my guru taught that a mantra should be repeated as much as possible during waking hours. So if, for example, I was washing the dishes, the mantra should be silently spoken over and over within my mind.
Body washing dishes. Mind repeating mantra. Again, dualistic, divided, disassociated.
This practice was supposed to assist in withdrawal of one's attention from the physical world during closed-eyed, seated meditation. Eventually supernatural soul-consciousness would be realized as distinct from ordinary everyday awareness of the physical world.
Now, this strikes me as both untrue and undesirable.
Scientific evidence strongly points to the mind being the brain-in-action. Thus both mind and brain are material, part of the physical body. This is a pleasingly unitary perspective. My thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and everything else that is part of my awareness is made of the same stuff the rest of the world is: atoms, quantum fields.
So when I meditate these days, I focus on my breathing and other bodily sensations. Because my intention isn't to do anything other than sit quietly in my meditation chair for twenty minutes or so, I just need to be aware of what my body is quietly doing and feeling.
Sure, I get to thinking about what I've done in the past, and what I need to do in the future. But I try to keep in mind that those past and future actions are connected with a body in a different time and space.
For instance, while I'm meditating I might start thinking about an email I need to send later in the day. I'm not sitting in front of my laptop, though. There's no way I can write the email while sitting with my eyes closed in my meditation room. My body and mind are disconnected, out of sync, not in harmony.
Likewise, when I'm riding my much-beloved StreetStrider, an outdoor elliptical bike, I'll find myself similarly divided when my legs and arms are striding along while thoughts of something else meander in my mind.
These aren't productive thoughts, because -- as noted before -- there's no way I can put them into action while I'm on my bike in the middle of Salem's thousand acre Minto Brown Island Park. So I remind myself, "Keep your mind aware of what your body is doing, Brian," and go back to fully enjoying my bike ride.
I used to be skeptical of the notion that mind and body should usually be doing the same thing.
That was in my dualistic philosophical phase. Again, I believed that mind and soul were separable from the body. This always happened after death, and it could also happen while alive if someone meditated in a certain fashion. Now, though, I realize that I'm most fulfilled and happiest when I embrace a unified view of life.
Body isn't separate from mind. Thoughts mostly should be in accord with where my body is, and what it is engaged in.
If my fingers are resting on a computer keyboard, as they are right now, it makes sense to be thinking about what I want to say in a blog post. But when I'm lying in bed with my eyes closed, ready to go to sleep, thoughts of a time and place different from the present moment really aren't productive.