Spiritual Fitness – Bringing it all Together

9th October 2012

parts of a wholeIn Spiritual Fitness we have looked at how we experience and affect our energy system in four different ways: the physical body; the emotions; the mind; and the “spirit”. Spirit is an opaque term that is hard to define – for me, it is a catch-all for the aspects of us that lie beyond the other three levels. These aspects are by their nature transcendent and so beyond strict definition and knowing, but can be summed up as a higher state of consciousness.  For some that has religious or spiritual connotations, and connects into words like “soul”.  For others, it is something else, perhaps the love we feel for our children or family that cannot be put into words. Whatever words we do or do not use to describe it, this is an important part of who we are and the more we pay attention to it the greater its influence on us in our day to day lives.

So how does this all connect into Spiritual Fitness? Well, the essence of any Spiritual Practice is the creation and strengthening of a connection into higher levels of consciousness. This reaching up to “Spirit” brings into play each of the other aspects of our energy system. The more we work on this connection, the more important it becomes to understand how each of these aspects affects that connection. Living with this understanding is what we mean by Spiritual Fitness.

The Body

First of all, let us look at the physical body. It is through the body that we connect into and experience these higher levels of consciousness. The physical body needs to be strong enough to handle these levels of energy. Factors that influence this include: levels of hydration; presence of toxins from food, drink, air, pharmaceuticals, narcotics and other environmental factors. We also need to be aware of the fact that working with energy in the body affects the nervous system. If we work with too much energy too soon, then we can experience pins and needles and numbness in the body, particularly in the hands and fingers. (The best analogy is the electrical wiring in your home – if it an excessive amount of electrical current is sent through the wiring, then the wiring overheats and melts the insulation.) So the strength of the nervous system is also important. This is developed through proper diet (Iodine and the Vitamin Bs particularly) and regular practice with the energy.

The health and clarity of the mind/ body connection is also important here as suppressed emotional experiences will be stored within the body’s deep tissue as toxicity (see the work of Dr Candace Pert and the other articles on the emotions).

Some forms of Spiritual Practice place the body at the center of the journey into higher states of consciousness: yoga is a familiar example; trance through music and dance is a less well-known example.

The Emotions

This brings us to the second level, that of the emotions. Our capacity to feel is strongly connected to our capacity to feel and experience higher levels of consciousness. It is our emotional sensitivity that guides us through these energies, and therefore the more in touch we are with our feelings the greater our ability to feel these energies. The more we work with energy, the more we will experience suppressed emotional experiences being lifted to the surface. This is a natural process that can be dealt with easily, provided that we are aware of what is happening and are able to deal with the emotional catharsis. Where the catharsis is particularly difficult or touches upon trauma, then we should seek professional help in coming to terms with and understanding an experience.

So as our emotional sensitivity increase, so too does our compassion for other people and other forms of life, and finally for ourselves. Compassion is a central theme of some forms of religion, particularly Buddhism and Christianity, as well as a common theme in most forms of personal development. The prevalence of Compassion shows how important this quality is to being human, even if we are inured to it through the daily grind of work and home life.

The Mind

The next level is that of the mind, which is important as this is where we process our experiences and tell the story of who we are. Where there are aspects of our consciousness that we do not understand or which we are not comfortable with, then we suppress or ignore them. These suppressed aspects of consciousness are very much linked into the suppressed emotions already discussed. As the emotions are released, or as we explore our “shadow” through counseling or another form of personal work, our mental understanding of who we are shifts and changes.

How does this affect our working with energy? Well, the deeper we work with energy the more we center ourselves in and relate through the heart, which is where we give and receive love. And it is as love that we experience these higher states of consciousness. This is why people often describe these experiences as blissful or cry out of joy. Not surprisingly, our ability to give and receive love freely is tied into our conscious and unconscious beliefs about who we are, what we deserve, and what we expect of the world (joy, pain, opportunity, threat?). Therefore as our beliefs and understanding evolves, so too does our capacity to connect into higher levels of consciousness.

This is not the only way in which the mind affects this connection – there is also the matter of how we chose to connect: which practice and set of beliefs do we use? Some are drawn to meditation, others Shamanism, Reiki, the Tarot, Angels, Islam, or Buddhism.  All systems of Spiritual Practice are, at their simplest, the stuff of mind: a set of forms created to give shape and direction to the movement of our consciousness towards higher states of self-realization.  This is because as we connect to and work with energy, it starts a process of change and development in our psyche and in turn at a physical level. This is why personal transformation is such a common theme in religious texts – the concept of death and resurrection can be seen as a metaphor for changes in consciousness. Old ideas about who we are die and are discarded, and new aspects of identity come into being in their place.

There is perhaps more to say about the role of the mind than the other aspects of the energy system. That is not because it is more important, but because so many of the barriers to working with and experiencing higher levels of consciousness are in the mind. Western cultures are very centered in the mind and so this is where we find most of the work to be done at this time. Some forms of Spiritual Practice deal almost exclusively with the mind: Transcendental Meditation uses mantras (a set of words or sounds) to quieten the Mind; Buddhism contains 2,500 years of wisdom from the study and contemplation of the mind. Whichever form we chose to use, it is just one of many paths to the goal of a higher state of consciousness.

Conclusion

It has been my intention in this article to bring together all the strands of the Spiritual Fitness workshops. Understanding how each part fits into the whole – and that the whole is nothing without each part – teaches us to honor and support each aspect of who we are. This outlook is particularly important where we are working with energy as part of a Spiritual Practice.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Mailing List