Finally, the last post in my series about being strong enough for awakening is about the body. No, there won’t be a post about energy. Energy is strong and intelligent on its own. When the mind, heart, and body are behaving themselves and are well-cared for, energy can do a lot of things without tending to. In some ways, energy is like our autonomic nervous system. It keeps doing things right when it is isn’t interfered with.
Certainly, we can do things to amplify our energy and to intentionally awaken it, but I prefer to have conversations about awakening energy in sessions and other direct forms of communication. Too many people think they’re ready to awaken when they are not.
Anyway, the body is very simple in terms of how we support it. We support it through nutrition, physical activity, and rest. These are our three primary levels of interaction with the body, and all three need to be done appropriately to ensure the body is healthy enough for spiritual transformation.
The body takes a beating after awakening. One of those beatings is from the ego. Even when the mind is prepared and healthy, the ego will likely freak out. It gets scared because awakening is an unknown venture in much the way that child-birthing is an unknown experience for a first-time mom. Is there a load of advice and plenty of women who have given birth? Yes. But that still doesn’t mean the first-time mom really understands what’s about to happen with her body.
Thus, it’s expected that the ego will freak out create wrong thoughts and stir up emotions. For the body, all kinds of fight-or-flight responses are going to ensue because of this. That creates increased heart rates, physical tensions, and other kinds of responses, and those responses can trigger yet other forms of physical tension. If someone has too much of this kind of stress, parts of the body get worn out and break down. For many, the chronic fatigue issue after awakening is a result of this prolonged stress.
So, I want to be clear that building a strong enough mind, heart, and body for awakening still means you can take a beating. But you’re in a better place to do the work you need to do if you’re prepared. When you’re not, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the downward spiral into a dark night of the soul is all too likely.
Resting for a Strong Body
With all that said, there’s a lot that can be done to help the body be prepared for the intense surges of awakened energy and the deep healing as well as the powerful spiritual growth that can arise. One of those things is rest.
An overly agitated body will be a mess to handle with awakened energy because this energy stirs up and agitates a lot of things in people. However, the more deeply and regularly the body has been rested, the more it tends to want to stay in a state of rest or return to rest more quickly. In this way, we can engage with a fundamental aspect of the body to soften some of the ups and downs that will still happen anyway.
One of those forms of rest is sleep. Regular sleep is essential, and yet it is often not appreciated for the important functions it plays in human health. There are all kinds of things people can do to improve their sleep, and even if someone is sleeping well, it’s a good idea to investigate how they might be able to sleep even better. For those who are serious about awakening, there should be no stone unturned in terms of preparing themselves for awakening.
If someone has a lot of chronic sleep problems, awakening their energy is probably not a good idea. Once again, I like to emphasize that the path to spiritual freedom can be a gradual process that puts far less strain on a person. I call this the conscious path. While awakening takes us on the conscious path, it takes us very directly and independently of how we might choose. There are a lot of benefits to that, but as I’m repeatedly emphasizing, that rapid river is intense. There is nothing wrong with a more gradual path, and for many people, that is the best choice for their spiritual evolution.
There are, of course, naps, float tubes, relaxing in nature, sound healing (if it is done well), massages, some types of breathwork (other types are more activating), and other things that can help relax and rest the body. Learning to intentionally relax is powerfully healing and helpful for the body in general. So doing these things isn’t just building you for awakening; it’s supporting your long-term health.
And of course, there’s meditation
Meditation and Relaxation
Before worrying about using meditation to attain enlightenment or anything else, let’s let meditation just be a form of relaxation. There are all kinds of benefits of using it for just that, and that’s a good place to start.
I know that some of you have been meditating for years, and that’s great too. You may have this piece of the puzzle taken care of. You may have all the aspects of the body taken care of, but if you’re reading this today, I encourage you to do an audit of these things. Sometimes we assume something is healthy when it isn’t. This is a problem I’ll discuss more with diet.
As a quick overview, meditation doesn’t have to be hours long or super intense. I recommend these basic steps to keep it simple.
- Find a time to regularly meditate each day.
- Show up. If you don’t show up to meditate, it won’t happen.
- Let go of expectations and don’t worry about having a particular experience.
- Find a comfortable seated position that works for your body. If you can’t do a full lotus, you’re not failing at meditation. And if you’re in a lot of pain, then you’re not meditating anymore. You’re now enduring and waiting for meditation to end.
- Repeat step 4 many, many times.
- Watch your thoughts or your breath. There are a lot of variants of this, but the practice is to be the awareness and to regularly bring your attention back to the present moment whenever it wanders.
- Sit for 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re new, then work your way up to 30 minutes. More than an hour of meditation starts to be untenable for most people’s schedules.
- Meditate daily even when it is inconvenient. Regularity is critical for the body. It needs consistency to “learn” and for you to really benefit from it.
Meditation is one of those tools that can become a savior when awakened energy is really intense. Below are some more thoughts on regular meditation.
Consuming the Wrong Food and Other Substances
Now, let’s pivot to food. Food in the Western Diet has become very strange. People don’t eat to nourish themselves. They eat to feel good like eating foods with lots of sugar. This is such a huge issue that there are health epidemics because of it, and I felt compelled to ever write a blog post about the topic.
People also eat to socialize. People eat because they’re bored. People eat because their sad.
People also consume a variety of substances and intoxicants like alcohol and recreational drugs, and whatever someone puts in their body effects there body. Sometimes, I think people miss this point. Whatever goes in your body effects it, and there are repercussions to this.
The real point of food is to nourish the body. When the body is being nourished, it has all the tools to maintain itself and whatever optimal health is available to you. Optimal health varies by body type, levels of ability, and age, but with the right food, a person can be as healthy as is possible for them in their situation.
All of this means that to have a stable body to handle the ups and downs of awakening, food and all substances being put into the body must-be re-examined.
Re-examining Your Diet
It should be said that this blog post as with is blog is not sanctioned medical or nutrition advice. Everyone’s body is different, and that’s precisely why re-examining your diet should include talking to a health professional. It should probably also include some of your own research into nutrition.
A lot of people have many assumptions about what is healthy, and that comes from childhood and society. But as with many things we were taught, we learn that some of them are outright wrong. Getting used to discovering how wrong others were–particularly those who loved and cared for you–is a powerful practice, and doing it now before awakening is a warm-up to being able to realize a whole lot more uncomfortable truths. There’s A LOT that we get taught wrong about, and if someone can’t handle a few of these realizations with their diet, they have no business waking up their energy and being assaulted by a slew of these realizations, which they’ll likely try to fight, avoid, or ignore.
In short, a lot of people–including those who think they’re eating health–are not. Improper diet weakens the body, and that’s a weakness that is unnecessary and will create additional stress after awakening.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Finally, the last big piece of the conversation is physical activity. Westerners are increasingly sedentary. It’s not natural. That’s having big effects on people’s bodies. Those people who are active are likely to be active in very repetitive ways, and repetitive motions often stress some parts of the body while neglecting others. The result is more poor health for people.
One interesting thing about the body is that it stores emotions, energies, and memories in muscles, tissues, and sometimes even bones (it really feels like that anyway). The healthier the body, the easier it is to find these things and release them. When the body is not in good physical shape, it becomes so much more difficult to discern what is an actual physical tension or weakness versus some issues that is stuck and needs to be released from the body.
That’s why physical activity is important. The better you know your body through healthy activity, the easier it is to know what is a physical limitation or issue versus something else. I do recommend finding a physical therapist and talking through different exercises that will work for your body. The very idea of exercise is kind of funny. We’re essentially still trying to figure out how to replace the physical activity that was part of surviving for most of the known history of the human species. I’m not sure that we’ve figured it out right. There are a lot of exercise routines that aren’t about optimal health but about achieving ego beauty standards, and there are plenty of exercises that are overly intense and unnecessary. I don’t have answers for this. I just encourage you to research and explore to help your body be strong and naturally healthy whatever that means for your body type.
What About Yoga?
Yoga in the West has become just another exercise routine, and that’s fine. It’s also often an attempt to sculpt the body to look a certain way. This is not fine. While traditional yoga has plenty of spiritual roots, that’s not usually how people are using it.
For those of you who are really serious about awakening your energy and who are following what I’m prescribing in this and my other blog posts, leave off exploring Westernized hatha yoga for now. Focus on preparing the body in other ways as you also focus on preparing the mind and heart. There’s time to explore yoga later.
Every now and then, someone does open up something while doing hatha yoga, and they’re very rarely prepared. I’ve been in some of the classes where someone is weeping uncontrollably because some old emotion stuck in their bodies got activated. Whether they successfully clear it depends on the person, situation, and the yoga teacher, but it’s always possible for someone to stuff an emotion back down. Human beings have gotten pretty good at that; that’s why there are so many emotions, memories, and other sensations that can erupt out of someone’s body after awakening.
I love the yoga, by the way. I do a half hour every morning right now. It is a strong foundation for me, and I know how to use it. But today for the serious spiritual person, I’m encouraging you away from thinking of it as an exercise routine. Find some other exercise and stretching routines first. Build your foundation, and then return to this beautiful practice with the intention of spiritual and energetic body exploration. Maybe it will still just be a physical workout, but maybe it will be something more.
Built to Spiritually Endure
Endurance is a strange word because it can carry this connotation of holding on. After awakening our energy, we are not holding on. We’re surrendered to the river that is carrying us.
But we’re also swimming in that river. Just like if you’re doing a long swim out in the ocean, you need to be ready to handle that experience mentally, emotionally, and physically. Even when you have those aspects of you in a strong place, you’re going to have incredibly challenging moments that you have to endure. It’s just going to happen. This is when knowing your mind, heart, and body really serve you. You can trust what you’re discovering more. There’s less confusion amidst the disorientation, and you can surrender to the latest intensity.
In so doing this preparatory work, you are better able to heal. In so doing, you grow. In so doing, you find deeper understandings and realizations of spiritual freedom.
In so doing, you are able to be with what arises, and you truly can cross this ocean of consciousness in a healthy way so that you can flow throughout your life or even find total freedom.