Now I’m not talking about ascension symptoms or illness or anything like that, but I am speaking about the problem that I have (and I’m sure I’m not alone) of being stuck in a physical body and ignoring it for my spiritual body, or my mind. Too often, I think those of us on a spiritual path focus on that reality rather than the real world of physical reality, where we have bodies that live in it.
I am really guilty of this. I very much live in my head, and my body is “poor brother ass”. I live in my head, and ride my body around in this reality. I first became aware of this propensity back in university…geez, like 34 years ago! Ick…there’s an age reminder I could have done without! LOL I had read this book called The Manufacture of Madness by Thomas Szasz, which I still have to this day. In it, he postulated that we create a sort of madness by viewing our reality in various ways in which we defining ourselves in various restrictive ways. There is the body/mind boundary, the me/others boundary, the my group/your group, even the ultra restrictive model where parts of our own consciousness isn’t part of self (the shadow). I made the realization at the tender age of 20 that I was guilty of making that body/mind distinction.
I did work at fixing that for many years, trying for unity consciousness…connection to All. It helped me awaken my kundalini. Then the physical cleansings that are part of Kundalini awakening started, and I got kicked off the horse and stuck back into my mind to cope. Coping, for me, meant ignoring the physical pain and problems and focusing on the end goal of spiritual development. Hmmm…that’s an interesting revelation…I just realized that I recreated a dichotomy in my soul by trying to escape a spiritual process. bleah. Wow…I’m slow! LOL
What brings this up now though is my MOTN meditation that focused on my lack of self-care for my physical body. I realized that it has probably been over a week since I showered…I just haven’t thought about it. I haven’t been going outside because of the damn pollen really bothering my eyes this year, so I’m not getting dirty. I have been washing my hair, but only because my itchy scalp brings it to my attention. I removed my socks last night and there was something hard inside one of them…it was a piece of toenail that had broken off! I don’t remember doing anything to my toe to make a piece of nail rip off. I also just noticed that my toenail polish is really badly chipped and needs to be redone. I don’t polish my fingernails because they grow too fast and I use my hands too much, which makes nail polish chip way too fast. It doesn’t even last a week! That winds up being a twice weekly chore I’m not willing to do. But nailpolish on my toes tend to last a lot longer. There just isn’t any reason for it to chip away. And I have fun with it by painting them fabulous colors…like neon green, turquoise blue, glitter purple. 😀
See…I used to be more aware of my physical self. I don’t know what’s happened, but I’ve gotten progressively less aware in the last few weeks. I think it’s my allergies…my eyes especially are really bothering me. Hence the paucity of posts lately. They are itchy and watering, which makes it hard to see. Various other parts of me are itchy too…my nose, my ears, my skin, even the roof of my mouth! 😦 And the post nasal drip has made my throat hurt, and is causing me nausea and some diarrhea. bleah. Yes, I have stopped paying attention to my body because it is only giving me pain and discomfort.
Instead I have been focusing on my spiritual side…I have started working on my grimoire and occult codex again, which has been helping me to define my spiritual goals more clearly. I’ve been doing a ton of research into various things that I hold dear to me – spiritual concepts that are important and I wish to detail in my grimoire. But this focus means I’m forgetting to pay attention to my body, and it’s amazing how dismissive I can be towards it. Another aspect of this is that I have started to lose things…I don’t think they’re actually lost, but I can’t find them anywhere. They have to be here…I have not removed them from my home. But why can’t I see them? It’s gotten ridiculous all the stuff that has gone missing to be honest. I need to start paying attention to the real world again!
To that end, I decided to google appreciating the body as a spiritual person, and was led to this surprisingly Christian article. I say surprising, because this sort of religious viewpoint normally doesn’t hold any value for me. But I found it to be very germane to what I was looking for.
“The Christian practice of honoring the body is born of the confidence that our bodies are made in the image of God’s own goodness. As the place where the divine presence dwells, our bodies are worthy of care and blessing. . . . It is through our bodies that we participate in God’s activity in the world.” – Stephanie Paulsell
Huh…I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. The author explains that
Surprisingly enough, it was in the process of staying faithful to my spiritual journey that I first began to face my profound ambivalence about life in a body.
Yup…ambivalence about life in a body…that sure sums it up! She goes into some Bible stuff about God sending an angel to Elijah to strengthen his body for his spiritual journey. Huh…that’s an interesting little revelation. It lead her to question her own beliefs about the body:
That season of spiritual journeying brought me to this startling realization: I had never thought of my body as a gift from God and I certainly had not cared for it as such.
My early lessons in flesh and blood spirituality began with growing in my understanding that the physical and the spiritual were not as opposed to each other as I had thought. I am not merely a soul and spirit; I am an embodied human being, and my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In some unexplainable way God inhabits our bodies, making them a place where we can meet and know him.
Yeah, the whole Holy Spirit thing would normally have me turning away from its pure dogmatism, but there is a greater lesson here. It reminds me there is Truth in all faiths. I do believe that we are all little sparks of Source energy, but I always thought of that in terms of our soul. But our bodies are electromagnetic energy too. They are made from Source energy too. They are part of God too.
As Elijah’s story demonstrates, there is a real connection between care for the body and our ability to continue deepening our relationship with God and to faithfully carry out God’s purposes for our life over the long haul.
Yes…if we are sickly, then we are too focused on the physical to the exclusion of our spiritual life. I see this with my parents, who are the youngest people in the rest home, but their health is so bad they cannot remain in their home. Since they have moved out here and are so close, I have spent more time with them, and they are so focused on their bodies and the lack of health that they aren’t very nice people to be with. Especially my father…he is so miserable and angry that he is very unpleasant to talk to. I know they are not focusing on spiritual matters. sigh. This is the opposite to my problem of focusing on the spiritual to the exclusion of the physical. And wow…I’d rather do it my way! Focusing on unpleasant physical symptoms really sucks. Perhaps that is also part of the reason why I have slipped back into an extreme case of dichotomy between body/spirit.
She goes on to say
I discovered that some of my spiritual practices began to coincide quite naturally with my physical disciplines. Times of running and walking became moments of turning my heart toward God.
Hmmm…I’m ashamed to say that my walking doesn’t always lead to this. More often than not, it’s a time for the monkey mind to run rampant. bleah. She mentions that she uses her walking and running times to practice a daily examen…a term I had never encountered before. But it is an interesting practice I intend to start.
St. Ignatius, a Jesuit priest, developed this daily spiritual practice based on prayerful reflection of the events of the day. It has 5 steps
- become aware of God’s presence
- review the day’s event with gratitude
- pay attention to your emotions
- choose a feature of the day and pray about it
- look towards tomorrow
I would add a sixth step though…a pausing to listen for God. Prayer is about communication with God…a proper conversation has 2 sides. I think it’s just as important to listen to see what the Universe has to say too. The examen is usually practiced twice a day – at noon and at night. I think it’s a great idea to stop during the middle of the day to remember God and be thankful as well as before sleep. I usually do a gratitude ritual in bed before sleeping…I try to think of at least 3 things to be thankful for, and send that gratitude out to the Universe. Usually I can think of many more than 3. This practice makes it easier to think of all the ways your life is better than your monkey mind thinks. I have noticed it gets easier and easier to think of 3 things the more you do this.
The author also made the interesting point of the importance of the body to spiritual practices by noting that when we pray or meditate, we must first get comfortable and relaxed, or we cannot sink into a meditative state. If the body isn’t relaxed and in a receptive state, then the mind can’t quiet down enough to allow meditation and prayer. She also noted something that I hadn’t thought of before, but it is true: there are postures that are almost universal, liking kneeling before an altar or praying with our hands up to indicate our willingness to be open and receive, that are common to all religions and spiritual practices. These are bodily postures – which of course leads to the idea of the practice of yoga.
I gotta get back into doing yoga! The different asanas (body postures) are way more than physical exercise though…they are body movements designed to bring on meditative states. I have studied yoga as a spiritual practice, and it is much more involved than the physical poses. But it’s a practice that melds the physical body with the spiritual body. It understands the body/mind connection. Why have I forgotten this?
It’s interesting that there is a Baptist leader who denounced yoga as being unchristian and opposed its use amongst Christians, because he felt it was anathema to spiritual development.
“Yoga begins and end with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with Christian understanding. Christians are note called…to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate on the Word of God.” – Christian Century, October, 19, 2010, p. 17
Pffttt to this guy. LOL I cannot believe anyone would diss yoga. It is truly a wonderfully spiritual practice that engages the whole self. Okay…so I know what I should do to re-engage with my physical self…I need to get back to yoga and honor my physical self more. Maybe I’ll find those lost items!
But this points to the all too common belief structure that involves ignoring the physical and elevates the spirit over it. I think this is the real reason there is so much obesity in our culture…there is a disconnect between the body and mind and spirit. Eating junk food does not foster health, and it doesn’t foster a sense of self-love. Which leads to not honoring ourselves, and the spiritual journey we each are on.