It’s time to talk about the body. Sure, I’ve referenced it a lot, but until now, I haven’t really spent a ton of time talking about it exclusively. Of course, nothing is really exclusive in terms of the heart, body, mind, and spirit. It’s all intermingled together. So in that way, these types of separations can be a little bit of an absurdity. But not too much. Because clearly we have bodies. And clearly they function in certain ways that our emotions do not and that our minds (no matter what they think) do not.
Honoring your sacred body starts with understanding this: your body is the only one you get. You’re not getting another. There are no trade-ins, and as a person with a prosthetic limb or rebuilt knee will tell you, getting new parts is never as good as the originals. So you have one rational choice: to take care of your body.
Honoring your body also includes this piece of wisdom: it’s a rental. You will have to turn it in at the end of your life. You can either enjoy this ride until then, or you can be in so much miserable pain by the end that you can’t enjoy anything. Barring a debilitating genetic disease or accident, how your body is going to feel is primarily up to you.
I’ve got so much to say on this topic, and much of it will fall back into some basic knowledge that people should have been taught by now. It’s things like “you should exercise;” “you should eat well;” “you should get regular sleep and rest;” and so on. The spiritual path is a very pragmatic path.
However, I’ll have much more to offer in other spirituality blog posts about what it means to listen to your body to discover what and how much exercise you need. I’ll talk about how to listen to your body regarding your food choices and to not get wrapped up in food ideologies..ahem, veganism, paleo diet, etc. I’ll talk about how your body knows what partners it wants to have sex with. There’s a lot going on underneath and on top of the skin, but you have to begin to learn to listen to your body.
Your body talks to you all the time. Some of the things you’re very used to listening to and responding to. It says, “I’m hungry.” You go and eat. It says, “I’m tired.” You go to sleep. Yet, even here, many people have fouled things up. They don’t eat when they’re hungry. They don’t sleep when they’re tired, and so problems quickly mount up. When the body is under-nourished, it is being stressed. When it hasn’t slept right or enough, a whole host of issues start to happen inside of us. The immune system doesn’t function as well, I believe (and please do your own research on this stuff; that’s another way you take ownership of your body and your spiritual path).
We tend to try and eat more to get the energy we’re lacking from not having enough sleep. This includes consuming for refined sugars and caffeinated drinks. A bunch of compensating actions are taken to gloss over the initial issues coming from not listening and honoring our bodies.
Misinformed and Ignorant Ideas Damaging Our Bodies
In general, Westerners are in some horribly bad situations because we’re not listening to our bodies. Simply on the basic level of nutrition and sleep, people are failing themselves miserably. The compensating actions have broad repercussions. As I already said, someone who is undernourished and not sleeping well will tend to look towards things like caffeine and sugary foods to keep themselves going. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million Americans had (and probably still have) diabetes in 2014. While I won’t say that sleep and poor nutrition are the sole causes, I am simply illustrating one of the fall-outs of not listening to our bodies.
A lot of this poor care for the body comes from following misinformed and ignorant ideas. We think we need to do more. We think we need to behave and look certain ways. All these ideas are forcing us to do things to our bodies instead of listening to them. In this way, we sicken ourselves, and we often end up killing ourselves.
Some of you may be waiting for the spiritual angle in all of this, but since all of our lives is spiritual, this is just as spiritual as anything else. Plus, we cannot dive into deeper issues until the body is healthy. Things get even worse with drug and alcohol abuse. Until major issues like those get resolved, it’s difficult to get to the root causes of anything (and those of my regular readers know that I’m all about getting to the root of things).
Clearing Out the Inner Junk
For many people, the start of the spiritual path is getting clean. You have to stop doing heroin, marijuana, cigarettes, cigars, crack, prescription drugs, and many of those things. You have to limit (although preferably stop) drinking alcohol. Limiting sugary foods and caffeine is also important, and balancing your diet is also extremely important. Your body is your vessel for perceiving your world and yourself. If that beautiful instrument is dirty and unclear, you can’t see or feel things properly, if you can see or feel at all. As I talked about in a blog post about numbing ourselves, if we’re too numb, we can’t be sensitive to ourselves or to our lives. We cannot hear our inner knowing, and we’re easily manipulated and can become lost.
I know that some of the things I mentioned like removing caffeine (or greatly limiting it) from your diet sounds extreme. But some religions already prohibit it, and when religion is doing its job, it’s simply providing guidance for people to help them help themselves. I am not saying “all or never” on refined sugar and caffeine, but I can tell you that caffeine is not a necessary food group. You should go down to the basics to figure out what is truly necessary to your diet. What makes you feel alive and thriving? Then come back later to decide if you are truly enjoying caffeine, or if it has been a way to compensate for other places in your life where you are out of integrity (like not giving yourself enough time for sleep).
The Awakened Body
I’m going to jump over a lot of aspects of this topic to speak to my awakened friends who are suddenly hearing their bodies SCREAMING at them. Yes, you are hearing correctly. Your body is not happy. You may not have listened to it at all, or maybe you thought you were listening, but have now found out that your lens on your physical needs was warped. Some of the warped ideas people have are things like “I should be a vegan to be a good person.” But if your body wants more animal protein in your diet, then this idea is deeply problematic. In general, there are some huge misconceptions with vegans and vegetarians that mix up a host of issues such as how to be a good person, the cruelty in parts of the meat industry, fear of death, and other things into this decision. Your body does NOT think that way. It simply knows what feels good to it, and the awakened body will forcibly take you there.
Forcibly? Yes, forcibly. You may start to feel sick if you eat substances that it does not want. That nausea is the body’s way of saying, “Get this out of me!” Some people can actually throw up. If you were eating a diet full of fruits, dairy, meat, and wheat, but your body wants a diet of rice, vegetables, nuts, and beans, then guess what’s about to happen. When this first strikes someone, the unconscious ego–which is still pretty much running the show–thinks that you are being punished. You are not. You are being healed. You are re-aligning to the truth of what your body really needs.
And this is just on the level of food.
For those of you dealing with dietary shifts, please check out this spiritual awakening blog post:
The Start of a Long Physical
Yes, you are having the biggest physical of our life. And fortunately the person performing it is the one that knows your needs better than the best physician, your mother, your father, and certainly your unconscious ego. It’s your body. Because everyone has differently relationships with their body, this is a very different experience for every person who have awakened. Some will have more intense body shifts, and others will not. A lot of you will detox physically before digging into deeper issues lodged in the body, and the body does carry a lot of issues. The further you go into purity and clarity and love, the more the body has to come too. And the body shifts after you’ve realigned on the basic stuff can still be tremendously uncomfortable at any level of healing and spiritual growth.
For those of you walking the gradual and evolving spiritual path (which is 99% of you–spiritual awakening as I discuss it as actually very rare), take the time to slow down and pay attention to your body. Practice using meditation to tune into it. You may be surprised at the stories that it has to tell you, but the more you listen to it and act upon those messages, the healthier you will tend to feel. That good health is the basis of how we think and emotionally feel. If the body is really unhealthy, our whole lives are influenced. That’s just how it is.
So practice making your body your ally, and dump out these many old toxic ideas such as what the body should look like. In the end, you will enjoy your life so much more when you are honoring your sacred body.