Exercise for the Spirit
March 03, 2008
Puzzles exercise our mind. We all know that keeping our minds stimulated increases our knowledge of the world we live in and contributes to our sense of well-being and fun. An active, healthy mind, hungry to learn more and explore new ideas enhances not only ourselves, but those around us. Physical workouts improve our bodies. The ancient Greeks developed the Olympic Games to demonstrate their physical prowess. Some 2500 years later, we still move in perfect form to create the physique we desire and sweat to the satisfaction of a job well done. We clearly understand the need for practice and reaching beyond our current state of well-being when it comes to mental and physical inertia. But when our spiritual life – that less tangible, invisible, subjective and mystical part of ourselves - suffers from stagnation or neglect, we consider a self-imposed regimen of psyche rut-wrenching as unsophisticated or garish. Equally as important as our earthly experience benefiting from focused exercise, our spiritual journey blossoms under the tutelage of our attention and action.
Stretch your form
Nothing gets you going in the morning like a good stretch. Just take a look at your pets. When they arise from a nap, they take a moment to stretch and enjoy the feeling of their muscles reawakening to the world. A reaching leg or arched back motion momentarily changes our pet’s appearance, yet the body remains self-contained. Our spiritual stretch ignites within us the quality of staying within the comfort zone of our spiritual form while extending the reach of our beliefs. Take a quiet moment in the morning or evening, or even during the day, to stretch your spirit. Reach beyond what you believe to consider the status quo of dare to formulate new ways to relate to your creator. Spirit lives inside of you. You – the magnificent, unique creation of God! Allow yourself the elasticity of your connection to the Infinite and tickle the boundaries of your beliefs with the flexibility of possibilities.
Fitness trainers tell us weight exercise consists of pushing and pulling motions. When we push things away, we strengthen and lengthen the muscle fibers associated with that movement. By pushing out the heavy ideas of our tired, old beliefs, we strengthen the core of our spiritual structure. And, for every push, there exists a return motion, in keeping with the laws of physics. We steadily and smoothly move out ingrained notions of dogma and doctrine which no longer serve us, while these beliefs return to us in a transformed state. We build up our ability to not only more easily push away these ideas in the future, we gain the ability to control how this thinking affects us from now on. In pushing away, we distance ourselves from ideas which no longer serve us, and in the reactive process, the ideas return to us and more likely to conform to our newly found spiritual strength. Push out limitation, lack and unworthiness. Welcome back the energy of those concepts as possibility, abundance and deserving.
In keeping with the laws of motion (and of physics), when we pull in new ideas, we keep the balance by cycling out old notions, as well. During your day, your mind notices and records thousands of things. Probably 90% of what exists goes unrecorded in your conscious mind. Your perception, glorious and unique, takes in just about everything, but your mind can’t possibly process it all. We can only take in and assimilate a small amount of “what is.” When we pull into our spirituality the blessings we see, we replace the cloudy day with feelings of gratitude. The cloudy day still exists, we merely shift the negative focus to a benign “given” in our world. The very exercise of inviting – or pulling in - positive things in our world allows for a strengthening of our awareness and recognition of the beautiful world around us. Our earthly minds handle only a small percentage of what we pull in, why not make it good?
Gravity. Thank you Sir Isaac Newton. Our human bodies are pretty much weighted down to the earth. Sure, pole vaulters, daredevils and others scratched the edges of dear old gravity, but the truth of its retraction ultimately wins out. Our heavy, tired beliefs weigh us down while we drag our feet to the beat of their somber hymns. We realize by pushing ourselves up, we acknowledge and use our spiritual power to rise above our old thought patterns. Soaring with our earthly tethers, we rise above the smog of polluted thoughts which cloud our happiness, all the while remaining grounded in our very human form. Life invites you to view loftier opportunities you can’t see while held down by your gravity-burdened vantage point of anxiety and blame and negativity. The Universe unreels the kite strings and allows you to explore further beyond what you ever dreamed possible to see your glorious life in a new perspective – that of possibility and opportunity. The irony is that everything on earth stays the same –the act of pushing yourself away from the gravity of the life you resigned yourself to live – frees your spirit to see things you couldn’t possibly notice while on the floor.
Push, pull, soar, expand - all these spiritual calisthenics! When life comes at us (sometimes with a vengeance), we move with adrenaline-like speed through our spiritual growth, leaving us panting and gasping for understanding. Just as our bodies require oxygen to process our systems and sustain and promote growth, our spirit needs the air of life to facilitate our souls. Inhaling and exhaling – we need both – whether deliberate or unaware, provide the movement of invisible fuel for the constant furnace of our existence. Take time to pant – and be grateful that life provides you with so much to learn, so many opportunities for growth, that you grow exhausted from all the possibilities. Remember to breathe, too. Controlled, steady breaths of God-like nourishment reach every cell in your body and touch every nuance of your soul. When you lovingly accept the air of life, you discard vapors of expended notions you no longer require. Breathe – take in the invisible elements of life, allow your breath to feed and transform you – and exhale what you no longer need.
Our bodies sleep. Our minds never rest. Even in sleep, the mind delivers dreams to us, solves problems, answers questions, rejuvenates our perspective. We’ve heard truisms from “just sleep on it,” to help in decision making, to “things will look better in the morning,” to readjust our attitude. Rest provides an unequaled blessing of resetting ourselves. Just like in a restless night when we fail to will ourselves to sleep, our spiritual selves often suffer from our forced attempts at transformation. My wise doctor once explained her reasoning for not prescribing sleeping pills. “When it’s time to sleep, your body will rest. Trust your body to take care of itself.” Similarly, we feed ourselves with a feast of “shoulds” for our spiritual growth.
Fitness trainers again, tell us that through exercise we break down tissue. In our rest, muscle tissue rebuilds itself to even greater strength. Resting from our labor creates the change we desire. We gladly perform gentle exercises to empower our souls for greater absorption of the good around and within us. All the stretching, pushing and pulling serve to prepare us for the inevitable soul transformation that occurs as we trust God and Life with our spiritual evolution - when we finally rest.
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