Sunday, January 9, 2011
Awakening Your Body With Exercise
Building the Foundation of Fire
There's something about awakening that feels like being set on fire. When my energy is really flowing, I really do feel out of my mind--but in a good way. =) Because your mind is so often a trap, being outside of its parameters opens you to a whole new world and way of being. Doing this work at the bottom level of things starts with how we treat our bodies. I've talked about connecting to your body (Creating a New Relationship with Your Body blog post) and healing your body of substance issues and poor eating habits among other body-related posts. This is where we'll start fanning the flames to talk about awakening your body.
Mindful Movement: Dance, Yoga, and Other Avenues
One of the ways to open the body to deeper awareness is mindful movement. I'm using this as a catch-all phrase for the various modalities that are springing up. I'm sure there are others that I'm not aware of beyond the various yoga modalities and mindful dance modalities (Stuff about sex will be in another post). As you move out of the basic need for the body to survive and you've clean it out of physical toxins, mindful movement classes of all kinds along you to dig deeper into core issues that are embedded in your energetic body and physical body. It's important to realize just how intertwined the two are. For instance, if you've been severely beaten at some point in your life, there's a level of pain that is physically embedded in your body and your spirit. When you clear it, you can feel a rush of heat and energy. You may suddenly find enormous flexibility in a part of your body that had been chronically problematic. A lot of things can happen that leave you with this sudden physical awareness that you're not the same anymore.
And that's a big part of this awakening series. You're not going to be the same anymore as you move through it. A lot of people don't know this when they get really into yoga. I've been in classes where someone would breakdown crying. That person would have no idea what just happened. It's part of the reason I write these blogs; there are a lot of yoga teachers who don't fully realize the tools they're using and teaching people. Yoga is an amazing form of movement--not just an routine exercise. The more mindfulness and awareness that you bring to it, the more you can use it to clear out old issues and open up to your body intelligence. When someone is crying, they're clearing out old issues. Unfortunately, they thought they were just getting a good work-out, so the residual effects may be blunted by the lack of mind awareness. However, that opening will leave an effect that may be with that person for a lifetime, and it may begin the process of a deeper awakening for the body if not further into a more profound awareness.
Understanding Your Body's Needs: Trusting Your Body Intelligence
Your body already knows what it likes. You may have been forcing it into activities it doesn't like. You may have been ignoring it--the level of neglect around our bodies in Western culture is obscene. But at this point, I hope you have begun to right the ship and get healthy. Once you get healthy, you will start to be able to clearly see what your body wants to do. For instance, my body doesn't care about lifting weights. It just doesn't. But if you get me moving in yoga, ecstatic dance, or running, my body can kinda go all day. I also feel pretty darned good doing it even in the tougher moments. Our bodies aren't interested in being tortured into excruciating shapes, i.e. dudes don't need to be body-builders and chicks don't need to be skinny as rail posts. Our bodies need to be what they want to be.
Having developed an awareness of different types of exercise, now is the time to pay attention to what you're most drawn to. You may have already done this less consciously. Your friend invited you to a yoga class with a teacher she liked, and you've been there ever since. That may be perfect. Or it may be a doorway into exploring other types of yoga. Or it may have been an intermediary step into getting you in shape so that you know what it feels like to feel good in your body. Because that feeling of healthiness and clarity in your body is now your barometer as you take your body exploration deeper.
There Is No Spiritual Work Out
People are slathering the word "spiritual" on so many things these days that it's like the ketchup of the awakening world. Just to be clear, even though I mentioned yoga, mindful dancing, and other stuff, they aren't inherently more spiritual than power-lifting. What's spiritual is you honoring your truth about what is right for your body. If your life-time is about becoming a power-lifter, then you should absolutely do that. You'll know. Your body will tell you what it thinks about it. It'll take on muscle easily. The exercises will just feel right. If you're not supposed to do this, the exercises will become more and more excruciating--not just physically, but mentally and in an energetic way that you'd have to feel to understand. You may also get hurt, which is one of the body's primary ways to yell at you, saying, "I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!"
It truly is about trusting your body intelligence. Because as you do, you're going to feel a deeper comfort manifesting in your body. You'll feel energized about yourself. It will feed into every other aspect of your day, and it may ignite some awakening on other levels (like your heart) that you didn't see as being connected. Everything is so interconnected spiritually that anything truly can happen. Which is what you need to be prepared for the further you go down the spiritual path to awakening. Anything can truly happen. Proceed only if you are sincere.
Next blog: Awakening to Your Food: Enlightening Your Diet
Today's photo comes from photographer, Becky Stiller. Feel free to check out her beautiful work on this flickr link.