babbles

Getting buff + modern spirituality

Despite the massive amount of snow we’ve gotten in the past 3 weeks, I’ve made it a personal goal to get back in shape. Rather, my roommates have made it their personal goal to get me in shape.
Dave is my bootleg personal trainer; we all go running and hiking, then he feeds me ice cream. It evens out. Right? I think so.

 
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(My view of the nor’easter from my room)

There’s a couple things holding me back from exercising rigorously – I’m very sleepy always, I have mild exercise-induced asthma, and I hate the cold. (I get wheezy during runs, which can escalate to chest tightness and hives. Not fun.) I do a lot better in controlled workout environments, like core-based yoga sessions (which I plan on incorporating once a week as well). But if there’s one thing I haven’t been able to grasp about yoga, it’s the mental aspect. I used to love yoga for its intraspective qualities – I was really able to delve into my brain and zen out. But lately, that’s been an unattainable state; I just can’t meditate anymore. My mind refuses to shut off. It takes a lot of cognitive strength to get there, which I guess I lost somewhere in the past few years. I lost my spirituality, if you will.

But what is spirituality anyway? It’s usually what non-religious people say they are. Modern spirituality seems to be a more self-driven mindset that focuses on ones connection to the universe, whereas traditional spirituality involves the unity of oneself and god. Both are very much a “be the best you you can be and leave everyone else alone” type of deal, which I respect a lot.
In my opinion, being spiritual is very healthy. Affiliating yourself with a “higher power,” be it a deity or nature or life itself, takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and lets you focus on what’s really important: you. By being your best you, you’re already improving the world. And that’s all anyone can ever ask of you.

I guess my issue is that I lost faith in everything. Bleak, I know, but life gets more transparent the longer you’ve existed. Purpose is so, so vital to our existence, yet I think we all question ours. Some people pop out tiny humans to feel purpose, some do research on innovative cancer therapy, some dedicate their lives to saving the environment – regardless of what it is, people need to feel like they’re necessary. Or else they get real sad. (Exhibit A: me.) Asking yourself “what’s the point?” can really put a damper on whatever spirituality you’ve worked to achieve. We’re all gonna die and the earth will be engulfed by the sun regardless of whether or not we pack a couple meals for the homeless shelter.

But modern spirituality counters that. Try to live in the moment, right now, and only look forward. (But not too far forward, like when the earth gets engulfed by the sun.) Make this moment better, because we’re all alive in the same moment, living and feeling and experiencing. The universe will throw curveballs and knock you off your feet, and there’s nothing you can do about those things. What you can do is make the experience better for yourself and everyone around you by being a better human being. Be a good listener, be generous, be understanding.

Why does it matter? Because a good life is all anyone can really get out of living.
That’s it. That’s really all there is.

Good energy is both contagious and magnetic. Everyone’s heard that. And maybe that’s why in your darkest days, you found yourself surrounded by toxic people. Then once you found the strength to be good to yourself, kind people flocked to you. And you flourished from there. (If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You will.) Be conscious of the energy you exude. People feel it, whether they’re aware of it or not.

So what does getting buff have to do with being spiritual?
A healthy body supports a healthy mind, and vice versa. Yoga is a great strength-building tool because it incorporates both mental and physical vitality. We can’t expect the mind to function properly when the body is suffering, and we can’t expect the body to work its best when the mind is crashing. We often have crazy expectations of our bodies – look this way, work this hard, don’t rest – and then we get upset when we falter. Having a spiritual connection with your own physiology can help you guide yourself to be your strongest. Listen to your body when its hurting or when you feel like you can push yourself further. And if you feel like you need a nap, take a good-ass nap.

So, hopefully the more my roommates force me against my will to be active, the all-around healthier I’ll become. That’s the plan, anyway. I’m already feeling much better. Simply connecting with other humans and feeling like I belong has improved my mental health. Life may have no meaning, but that doesn’t mean it has to be sad and pointless.
Wishing you all a good week and lots of good naps.

-s.f.

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