After Al died I desperately needed to find a way to bring my spiritual experiences closer to my physical reality. I began studying various spiritual traditions and practices, but found that even the most well-intended of them lacked the full, original, unadulterated insight that I needed. I attributed this to the natural devolution of Truth as it's translated from one generation to the next. The one answer they seemed unable to provided was the one answer I hadto find - What is the relationship between my imperfect, physical body and my perfect, spiritual nature?
During a visit to Mount Madonna (http://www.mountmadonna.org/) in the Santa Cruz mountains, I got my first clue. Hindu teachings about yoga and our chakra systems speak to the inherent union between our physical bodies and our energy bodies.
Since then I’ve deepened my search and my study, and what has evolved is a personal, intuitive practice of ‘physical meditation’ that includes dance, aerobics, yoga, stretching and stillness. As I’ve deepened these practices, I’ve noticed inherent ‘spiritual’ benefits.
1- It brings me into my body, into my current moment, my physical experience. Muscles, breathing, movement, sweat. Good stuff.
2- It requires a sustained discipline of attention on my inner world. Balance, intention, stretching, strength of will and determination.
3- It provides a physical metaphor for my spiritual states. When I dance, I’m expressing my soul’s joy. When I’m doing yoga poses - the camel pose, child’s pose or mountain pose - I’m physically embodying the emotional states of open-heartedness, humility and strength. When I work out with a physio ball, I’m acting out the experience of balance.
4- It teaches me to become aware of my energy and how I use it. Do I have enough? If not, why? Better sleep? Better nutrition? Better company? The energy that I do have, where is it going? When doing the Downward Facing Dog yoga pose, I’m focused on my palms pressing into the mat, my heels touching down behind, and my tail lifting to the sky. I’m paying attention. I’m directing my energy. I’m listening to my self in a whole new way.
5 - Most importantly, what I’ve learned through ‘physical meditation’ is that my body is a gift, a vehicle to be celebrated, for it gives me the opportunity to experience and express the truth of who I am.
I love and appreciate my body, and as I love it, so do I love my self. I invite you to develop your own practice of ‘physical meditation’.