Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spirituality, Vanity, Evolution and the Physical Body












Q: So I have been going through a predicament. Over the past few days, I have been becoming less and less inclined towards working out, whether it is power yoga or going to the gym. The reason for this is because I can't think of a reason to do either of those things in a spiritually authentic manner, as both tend to focus more upon the physical and mental aspects of discipline rather than contributing to growth of an essential nature. I also have been wondering how karma might affect this. Given that you are obviously spiritual in your practice, I was wondering if you could grant me some perspective on the subject? Thanks much (p.s. I do really enjoy your videos and practice notwithstanding :P)


A: I can totally see where you are coming from. I have gone through exactly the same dilemmas. And I even had to stop drawing when I was 17 because I saw it as an external practice, a validation of form. I have come a long way since then and yoga has bought me to respect the physical; the form. My feeling is that we are here on Earth, having a human experience, in a physical body so that we can learn to integrate, weave the physical, mental and emotional in order to allow our soul to grow and experience deeper level of enlightenment (speaking of enlightenment as a never ending process) (yoga means a union between mind and body and the divine essence)
So this right here and now (IMO) is just one more stop our soul makes and one more lesson we must learn before we continue with our evolution as a spirit.   And this is an important stop, and an important lesson we must master before we continue on our way. 
When we workout there is of course vanity involved and that is what's discouraging to you.  But we all agree that we must take care of whats hosting our soul in order to offer the best tools and the best medium for it's journey. I hope this is not too vague an answer and it gives you as many answers as it opens questions for you. 
You will notice that you can affect your state of emotion, consciousness and connection with source though physical practices such as fasting, sitting zazen, doing yoga, karma yoga, opening the heart with backbends or even running and going into that place of profound "EMPTYNESS" (which is ironically "everything-ness").  Acting from a place of soul "connectivity",  heart-openess and grounded presence can only allow you to be more available for others. 

Not to mention that a toxic body can provoke toxic thoughts and prevent us from connecting to the wisdom within. 

And maybe you think to yourself "what is the point in putting all this effort in something that we will eventually lose and it will disintegrate?".  This is a long discussion but all I can say is that not taking care of it leads to more suffering and sometimes suffering that will not hold space for the soul to grow in the most optimal way.   So to be extremely blunt- you just have to haha ... or it just leads to more suffering if you don't.  It's almost the same question as do we need to work, eat, shower etc... In a zen way it's simple you just do it! You "chop wood, carry water" you don't question it and you get enlightened along the way :D

To conclude this; even if we are not spiritual at all we all notice that a clean body leads to a brighter mind and a lighter heart so being healthy allows you to turn it from a self serving practice into an opportunity to be of service to the whole while being grounded, centered and "connected"... and therefore connect with the divine and grow. 

NAMASTE

Any continuation on this discussion, difference of opinions, additions are really welcome! 


P.S.  As some of you mentioned taking care of the physical is an act of unconditional faith as some/most or maybe all of us realize; this is a very temporary arrangement and it can seem as if it doesn't matter. So being devotional to our bodies is an act of gratitude and faith.  On a practical level you serve yourself first only so you can be there for others and and lift up others with everything you have learned along the way. 

Here is an excellent contemplation by Debra :
 What a great discussion! Vanity is a motivator for some but not for all. The body is a beautiful gift from God and it is the vehicle in which we travel this portion of our spiritual journey. Caring for the body, feeding it the most healthy foods, getting plenty of rest, keeping it strong and flexible and declining to poison it with toxic substances is devotional; an appreciation to the provider of all for this beautiful gift. Take care of your piece of the garden and more will be added unto to you. Also, yoga and other forms of movement are/can be a form of meditation. Running, swimming, even weight training all require one pointed focus which trains the mind to be in the present moment, an admirable spiritual practice. As well, only when we are healthy and happy can we be at our best to help others and do great work in the world. Finally, there is great joy in physical existence. Seeing a beautiful sunset or smile, hearing beautiful music or the sound of a loved ones voice, the aroma of a flower or a wonderful meal, the taste of fresh food, the touch of a baby's skin, grass under your feet, the joy of expressing God through dance; all of these experiences are available because we are in physical form. So keeping the body healthy is an act if gratitude for all of these blessings. Just some thoughts from a simple soul

18 comments:

  1. Well this is a good article on interval yoga
    but there are some things that you might have missed
    you could have mentioned some basic poses of yoga like:-
    Surya Namaskar and Half Moon pose.
    I read something about the new trend of interval training in yoga
    hope its adds on to the existing good information :)
    http://workouttrends.com/interval-yoga-ultimate-guide

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    1. I coined interval yoga on november 2012. so its a style i have designed that integrates high intensty interval training and yoga. but this particular article is an answer to a question about motivation to do yoga so the subject is how we stay motivated on a spiritual level to work out. blessings

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  2. We also store our emotions and thoughts in our body; yoga is a beautiful way to become aware of the stagnation of the energy, part of body where the stagnation exists and to became aware why the stagnation occur. In that sense, it is a really enlightening experience :)

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    1. yes, great point! conscious movement can give us the tools to deepen our emotional intelligence. <3

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  3. What if there was no distinguish between form and spirit, and that they are interchangeable...because the one implies the other...so every aspect of form might be a certain aspect of spirit. A statement coming out from within. A projection of our inner world in the structured world.
    This was great both the question and answer. Thank you for sharing!!
    (Keep them coming is obviously implied :P)

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    1. yes exactly- there is no difference. they are a reflection/projection/mirroring of one another- interwoven, not separate from one another. <3 thank you

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  4. As far as exercising, here are my thoughts. We each get one body in this lifetime. It is up to us to take care of that one body - through diet and exercise. Also, as a woman, I must take care of myself first so that I will be able to take care of all those who need me. Through the practice of yoga I am able to take care of my body, clear my mind and body of daily stresses, open energy pathways so that I can get through my day with clarity and energy. And yes, as I clear my mind of needless chatter, I am able to focus on my God and what really matters in this life - being happy towards myself and others.

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    1. this really sums it up! that's the essence of it- simple truths! thank you

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  5. Still I wonder how the nature of body connected with the nature of the body? For me the divinity and spirituality comes from practices that we perform every day. The logic of human reason is built in discursive practices. It is a wonder how Stephen Hawking and Gandhi with those bodies thought about great things.

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    1. yes - good point!!! there are many thats to the same place i guess. what do you think?

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  6. Respect...I believe it has a lot to do with respect , which filters out into every aspect of our life...We are gifted with a body...This gift is to be well cared for, as well as in your power, so that it might do good work. The body, along with the spirit work in tandem to care for other beings, to help maintain a healthy planet (also a gift) , etc. We are of better service to God when we reflect a healthy , happy, shining spirit. It is what helps us help one another. There is much beauty in this world, beauty has a multitude of definitions...spiritual, auditory, intellectual, visual...If beauty comes from actions (such as yoga) we take to respect this gifted body, then that is as it was intended. Beauty is perceived in so many different ways. I believe if we are solely focused on our beauty or, used our beauty to gain privileged that we've not earned, this could be considered "wrong", or a roadblock to your spiritual growth . The same can be said for judging others based on their physical beauty. This also would be a hindrance to our spiritual development. It could distract us from our good work. We are sentient beings given to love and hate, happiness and sadness, joy, cruelty, playfulness, humor, judgement, kindness, etc. To places ourselves into a rigid stricture is, I believe against our intended nature. If you argue that experiencing and enjoying beauty in any way, or any form is wrong...This life will be a fruitless one for you...I supposed that all of this boils down to perception and intent. This question and the responses were very thoughtful...quite difficult to answer. Thank you for the thought provoking question. Also for taking the time to read this. Laura Jones- Miller

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    1. Laura very beautifully said. Your words made me think that caring for the body is an act of faith - because we put faith in something temporary yet divine. I think we are meant to appreciate beauty. Look at Mother Nature- she is knocking herself out with profoundly beautiful creations. <3

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  7. Okay, I think I have figured this out. The above response is not anonymous...although, due to the many typos (SORRY)...I shouldn't admit it is mine...But, it is...Thanks for overlooking some really bad eyesight.xoxoxo

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    1. wooohooo Laura I am proud of you!!!! I got you to figure out Blogger. :) this is like the practice of the internets ;)

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  8. HA...I am now an official member of yoga of the bloggers!!! I feels almost as satisfying as doing a handstand!

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  9. This is a great subject. Thank you for sharing.
    Lately I've had a slump in my training and practice, and I must admit it has been difficult to come back.

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    1. start small. be kind to yourself. i have a little blog on how to come back to it if you fall off the wagon. check it out. might help <3 love

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