Body and Mind. Spirit and Emotions.

DSC_4184“Work out the body to strengthen the mind, Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails”

~Native American Code of Ethics

I’ve always loved the above line from the Native American Code of Ethics, but applying it has only happened recently in my life.

Everything is connected with everything else; we transform all dimensions of our being with any changes we make. I think that’s terribly cool; its like some sort of secret life-bonus

The realization that one change impacts our whole self is exciting; it once again brings us back to the idea that the individual shifts we make add up, and comprise our whole selves.

In my recent experiences with working out (something I avoided for about 23 years) and diving into spirit (another one of those areas I avoided for at least 21 years)—I see how integrated this all is. I witness myself making changes to my body and spiritual relationship that are seeping into all areas of my life. And it is a beautiful thing.

“Work out the body to strengthen the mind.”

The more willing we are to “stick with it” in our physical exercise; in my case, my yoga practice—through the discomfort, the long holds, the endurance…into the places in which the body has not been opened, the more willing and prepared we are to reflect these qualities into our more “mental” lives.

The greatest aspect of any of our challenges are mental, so, conquering the mental battle that is certain to take place in our workouts, cultivates this same mental readiness in battles exclusively of the mind.

Sitting with discomfort is something no one looks forward to: our physical exercises of choice give us a beautiful opportunity to not only sit with what may not feel “good” immediately, but also show us the rewards once we have done so…that glorious post-workout high.

Because those mental battles, those challenges at work, school or simply in navigating the uncharted waters of our lives—those may not pass so quickly, and may not shed such immediate rewards, they may stretch on and on.

They will most certainly require much more faith that the trust in a feel-good buzz after our yoga class…it’s crucial we have a way to remind ourselves that discomfort does pass, it yields into its opposite… as all complimentary poles do, eventually.

When I am willing to engage in a tough round of asanas, i am reminded of this in a small way, I am reminded that the struggle always gives way to Savasana (relaxation). If I am willing to see it through and not run. Its a small reminder, but when acted on daily, it adds up.

“Grow Rich in Spirit to Cure Emotional Ails”

This is so beautiful to me right now.

I am, today the most connected to my self that I have ever been, I spend time connecting with myself, and silence frequently. This feels so good; we can all benefit from becoming more close to ourselves through time-given and awareness. When we do, we discover and can build a foundation of our truth.

For me, this has shown up as a growing ability to see the “perfection” in whatever is being thrown my way. By no means is this a constant faith. I can only hope to continue to trust more and more, to lean on this foundation more each day, that eventually I might not waiver and doubt.

Because its hard.

Its hard to see perfection in suddenly losing something crucial to you. Its difficult to see the blessing, especially right up front, when you have learned to count on something and it vanishes.

But with a foundation of trust that all is unfolding as it should, we become quicker and quicker at seeing the perfection. We see what we look for, and with the repeated practice of looking for how life is serving our growth, it is easier and easier to see how this is true…all the time.

This doesn’t mean we don’t feel crushed, betrayed, or totally sideswiped when “life happens”. It would be unhealthy not to feel such an experience.

But it means that we  don’t become  that. We don’t stay there.  We feel it for what it is, stand up, dust our life-glasses off, and look for the blessing.

The sooner we do this, the more quickly we move back into the realm of possibilities—and that’s the only realm worth living in—don’t you agree?

The realm of limits, victimization, betrayal and pity doesn’t do a dang bit of good. It holds us in what could be an initial pain of an event, and keeps us suffering.

The more frequently I acknowledge the perfection of the world as it unfolds for me, whether it feels blissful, weird or painful, the more of a reflex it is for me to say “Ok this hurts, but there is a reason. What is my next possibility?”

And that’s an incredible feeling. It’s like a giant cloud to land on. It stabilizes me, and though I may not know where I’m floating off too yet, I know that the wind is drifting me as it should.

And then I forget, and I slip into the terror of being so high off the ground, not knowing where or why. But i’ve practiced. And it counts, and it won’t let me slide too far. I hear my soul pipe up again “there is a reason,there is a reason,there is a reason”.

Let me tell you, when you align with that simple truth, it is hard to continue to wallow for long.

Back on my feet again.

“When you live deeply enough, there is only one direction.”

-Mark Nepo


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