Without the physical fitness higher aspirations are not possible!
It all started with the preparation for a trek to the high-altitude mountains sometime back. Preceding the trek and as part of the preparation and acclimatization, my husband and I, started a slow and comfortable exercise regime. Over the next few months a few kilometres of brisk walking everyday slowly grew to many more and then it became an integral part of our daily affairs. Nothing could stop us today from our daily physical workout be it rain, heat or wind. As the clock strikes 5.00 AM we are up and literally running on the tracks.
We did not realize then, what wonders that a fairly straight forward exercise regime such as walking could do to one’s overall well-being. A good physique contributes extensively towards spiritual progress. This connection was established slowly and steadily and continues to amaze us on how delicate and powerful this newfound reality can be!
While I have read, and heard about this, I was also in the same notional belief some time back. Having set foot into an earnest practise, I now recognize its impact and importance. When you are physically fit, you are almost likely to be less engaged with concerns of health thus setting aside a substantial part of your mind space beyond these. This leads us to open up our mind space to accommodate and dwell on aspects beyond the ordinary. A certain amount of mental alertness also gradually sets in. Walking is a simple yet effective physical activity in keeping the mind and body in shape. The best part is that it gives such a lot of space for contemplating inward during the workout and not be drawn down by want of energy that most other challenging workouts may render us into.
Over a period of time, I started to develop the habit of observing myself during my walking. The joy to experience each part of your body responding to you, in many different ways is boundless. You get to understand the intricate movement of each muscle, the movement of adrenalin through the heart, the energetic vibrations emanating from each cell and many more gentle aspects of the functioning of the human body. When you are out of breath for example, you get to understand that it is just not about a biological reaction! From the moment, I chanced to stumble on such aspects, walking has been more than a joyful activity, moving beyond a regular fitness routine to a different platform of appreciation and gratitude towards the Creator. I eagerly look forward to these close counters with the Divine every day.
A year back, I could hardly sit up straight for more than 10 to 15 minutes. I used to be more preoccupied in my physical constraints during meditation rather than focus on the purpose. Even if I made the best of my attempts to focus, my physical constraint would not allow me to do so. But these days, I hardly feel any pain when I can sit down straight with legs crossed for hours together without moving. As a result, I am able to meditate much more deeply these days. Isn’t this proof enough for one to assume that for spiritual well-being physical well-being is a must?
Few of us are gifted today with a body that is as fit as a fiddle. These are the people who need not do much from a physical fitness perspective in their spiritual progress, except keep it like a fiddle and embark further into their spiritual journey! However, I believe a vast majority of us need to focus on physical fitness, as modern cosmopolitan life style and eating habits have left an indelible hurt on our physical body. Physical fitness need not be necessarily the building of a six pack, a hour glass figure or enough stamina to run a marathon. On the contrary, every part of the body should be bubbling with energy, waiting to take your orders rather than being ordered. That would be a more appropriate characterization of ‘being in the pink of health’.
The lifting of a hand should be a pleasant experience as much as squatting on the floor. The steady breathing should be an exhilarating experience as much as the stillness in deep sleep. Eating should be a wonderful and enjoyable activity every day without having to bother about the consequences resulting the next day! If these things happen, we can safely assume that we are in control of our body and it will no longer be a stumbling block in our spiritual pursuit. While mental and emotional wellness do contribute extensively for spiritual well-being, I would think that the easiest first stepping stone has to be physical fitness.
But these days, I hardly feel any pain when I can sit down straight with legs crossed for hours together without moving. As a result, I am able to meditate much more deeply these days. Isn’t this proof enough for one to assume that for spiritual well-being physical well-being is a must?
Have we ever come across a place of worship that is abused? In this part of the world, have we even entered a place of reverence wearing our footwear? Not that I know. Why so? We trust that these places are sacred and we dare not harm its tranquillity as we believe HE resides here! If this was so true of a physical man-made structure, how could we ever think of abusing a personalized precious gift in the form of a perfect body bestowed to us straight from the Creator himself!
HE has gifted us this magical body and it is beyond logic to indulge in destroying it. Should we not give it the same reverence and respect that we give to a temple, church or a mosque or any place of worship? If we live the normal life span, our heart would have beaten almost a whopping 3 billion times. We breathe 30,000 breaths a day! And all of this with very little effort of ours! Isn’t that just wonderful? Isn’t this a precious gift from the Creator? So, should we not cherish this gift and protect it?
Taking care of our body is a good step towards mental and emotional health. Spiritual progress can happen only if we are physically fit. Our ancestors had understood the body so anatomically that they went on to define the five distinct layers, each tied to the other like a thin but strong string connecting a garland of beads. When the five layers of our body in Annamaya Kosha- the food body, Manomaya Kosha – the mental body, Pranamaya Kosha – the energy body, Vignanamaya Kosha – the transitory body and Anandamaya Kosha – the bliss body lead into the other, nothing but Divinity will radiate from within.
What started as a simple everyday walking regime has made us believe that ‘We are walking with HIM’ by virtue of the wonderful gift called body that He bestowed on us. A simple but earnest offering in gratitude to the Creator is for me to walk with him every day. HE is waiting there to walk along with me every morning at 5.00 AM! I have therefore no excuses not to get out of bed! All I need to do is just extend my hand to ‘Walk with HIM’.