We tend to forget that we are not physical beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings undergoing a physical experience. The spiritual being needs the human body to explore life to the fullest and to propagate life on earth. And the material body seeks the spirit to motivate it higher, beyond the baser instincts of animals. Let’s see how we can find that balance between Spirituality and Materialism.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~ Buddha
We will explore in this post, some techniques of Yoga, Qigong, Zen Buddhism and other forms of meditation to calm the mind and harmonies it with the body.
Balance Through The Three Pillars of Life
To achieve a balanced mind and in turn to live a balanced physical existence, three qualities have to be in perfect equilibrium – Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage. A balance of these 3 qualities ensures that you achieve your goals in life with zest and discipline while also being compassionate to your fellow beings, guided by wisdom.
If you only have passion without wisdom and compassion, you may become a cruel and foolish person. Benevolence alone without willpower and wisdom will make you a useless romantic idealist. And wisdom alone without action and kindness will turn you into a reclusive hermit. Theosophy teaches that when these three virtues are kept in equilibrium, Man can become fully effective and happy in the world.
What Disturbs the Balance?
The quest for a physical-spiritual balance can be illustrated as this : your body is a Temple in which your Mind is the High Priest. Allowing destructive forces like addictions and bad habits to occupy the temple is to weaken and finally kill the High Priest.
Some drugs induce an elevated state of altered consciousness. Unfortunately, the fantastic perceptions that a drug user experiences do not last very long. What lasts long is the terrible addiction to the vice. A very heavy price – that of loss of control – is paid for an illusion of power and enlightenment.
Food determines our spiritual outlook too. Red meats, alcohol, tobacco, fermented and stale foods weaken the Temple of the Body. These foods stress the digestive, circulatory and breathing systems. Vegan food that has a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins is easily digested, assimilated and excreted. If you are curious about the amazing benefits for your body, mind and soul that veganism has for you, don’t miss out on these delicious vegan recipes.
Fasting periodically and correctly can cleanse the body of undesirable toxins and free radicals that cause ageing. Consuming minimal or no food at all for a few days can give your body a chance to excrete the accumulated waste products and rebuild the stressed out body. Fasting combined with meditation is an excellent way to give your body a break and to allow it to reacquaint itself with its Spiritual High Priest! No wonder why it is used in so many religions and spiritual traditions.
Laughing on the Tightrope
Sometimes your spirit becomes so lost and distant from your physical self, that it takes a good bout of laughter to get back in touch. Your spirit is a funny guy too. Why do we have to look at all things spiritual as solemn quests for enlightenment? Spirits don‟t wear long hooded robes and carry candles in dark dungeons.
Get that spirit back up into the living hall of your life. Treat him to a drink and enjoy a good laugh. His hearty laughter will ring through the rooms of your body and resonate in your heart, lungs, veins and bones! Laughter vibrates the body like nothing does. Don’t just titter at something funny. Laugh out loud, for God‟s sake!
Money and the Soul
Are you like this miser who is a slave to his bags of money? Or are you at the opposite end, a hopeless spendthrift with butterfingers, never getting a grip of your finances? In your quest for striking the balance between your spirituality and materialism, you must also examine your relationship with money. Here are 5 ways to keep your financial life in equilibrium:
- Balance your finances. If you live in an idealistic world where you believe money will automatically come if you just do your own thing, you may be disillusioned after a while. Work hard with clear goals and a plan to achieve them. Remember that you sometimes have to work on less appetizing routine tasks to earn your bread and butter. Build up your finances until you can quit your day job and follow your dreams.
- Balance your creative and spiritual side by also working on a part time job you love but doesn’t yet bring in big money. Your hobbies may give good clues on where your real aptitude lies. Superstars have worked as waiters and pizza girls until they struck gold with their special talents.
- Sitting around waiting to attract money and success doesn’t work. Follow the Laws of Action. You will attract more if you work more! Remember that a donkey laden with a hundred self-help books is still a donkey!
- Spiritual pursuit should not leave you floating in the clouds. We are not ghosts who can abandon our bodies for pursuit of the cosmos, at least not yet! Our spiritual world lies on the hard ground of the earth, where we walk – body and soul – hand in hand. Excessive contemplation will paralyze you and make action difficult.
- Learn to give and receive graciously. Considering money as evil is also an extreme position. Money can be perceived as energy, flowing from others to you and from you to even more people. You are the carrier of the energy and can improve the flow to other human beings too, creating a continuous and harmonious synergy.
Toward a Spiritual Sexuality
The importance of a healthy sexual balance is often ignored in the search for physical-spiritual equilibrium. One extreme sees men and women dissatisfied with their sex lives and the other end is occupied with people frantically fornicating in the search for true fulfillment. Let us explore a few thoughts on Sex and the Spirit.
In these modern times where stress, career and lengthy educational years make increasing demands on people, the number of men and women with dysfunctional or totally non-existent sex lives is increasing. If abstinence is self imposed for spiritual reasons that‟s fine, but the average Joe or Jane are bound to feel frustrated and imbalanced without healthy sexual activity for years together. Repressed sexuality and childhood abuse can add on to a deadly mix resulting in sexual crimes or deviant behavior. On the other hand, promiscuous behavior carries along the pattern of unsafe sexual practices and the possible baggage of guilt and assorted negative emotions. Failed relationships fuel further exploration, leading on to a hopeless trail of divorces and zipless one-night stands.
The ultimate goal in a sexual quest is that one loving man or woman who completes us both sexually and spiritually. There is nothing more satisfying than falling asleep after a session of great lovemaking with your arms around a spouse you love. That is even more satisfying when you know that the kids are happily sleeping in the next room. Sex after all was basically invented by our Creator for procreation. While a healthy sexual relationship strikes a great balance for a couple, the weighing scale itself turns to gold when children enter their lives.
Creativity and a passionate sexuality tuned to each other‟s needs can keep a marriage hot for decades. A zest for life leads to healthy sex and vice versa. A husband and wife can become each other‟s yin and yang, thus striking a delightful balance between themselves as well as their individual mind, body and soul.
The Power of Prayer
“Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you listen to God.” ~ Anon
Spirituality and Materialism
Prayer is defined as the act of addressing a god or spirit with the intention of asking for something or just worshipping and giving praise to the deity. Scientific studies often explore the ability of prayer to heal the sick and injured. But every evening when we get down to pray, it is we who heal ourselves, bringing our mind, body and soul to an intimate get together.
Prayer can be externally focused as in Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions or internal contemplation as in Buddhism. Praying is also used as a faith healing process to prevent or cure illness. While the efficacy of faith healing is looked at with skepticism by the scientific community, both eastern and western science accepts the ability of prayer and meditation to bring about peace in an individual. Whereas community prayer and ritualized religion requires the devotees to use pre-scripted prayers, each individual can also use his own inner dialogue when he meditates alone. Either way can be quite effective to harmonize the body and soul of the truly devout.
Oriental Methods of Achieving Balance Between Spirituality and Materialism
“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” ~ Chinese Proverb.
Oriental culture is rich in spiritual philosophy and practice. Numerous martial arts and meditation techniques have explored the relation between the body and mind for ages.
- Meditation is a general term for a state of relaxation wherein one moves beyond routine “reflex” thinking into a higher state of consciousness. Practiced across all religions and communities, this discipline has been found to make changes in the circulatory, brain and respiratory processes of the body and also reduce stress significantly.
- Yoga : The first image that yoga often brings to our mind is that of complicated postures and exercises. But Yoga means Union. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit verb „yuj‟, and means “to control”or “to unite”.Yoga uses breathing techniques, exercises and meditation to achieve a balance between our physical and spiritual form. Through yoga, one can achieve a total overhaul of the body and spirit and help in maintaining a calm and peaceful state throughout the day.
- Qi Gong (or ch’i kung) is a form of Chinese meditation using slow dance like movements and breath control to stimulate the chi (life force) in the body. Studies show that Qigong improves health and makes the body supple and calms the mind. Compared to Oriental martial arts, this practice focuses more on balancing the “chi”. Over 200 million people in the world practice various forms of qigong today.
- Zen Buddhism is a school of Buddhism which believes that human beings have an inherent body of wisdom within themselves (a Buddha nature), which can be gained and perceived through meditation and experiencing life mindfully. This method focuses on self realization through actual experience rather than depending on scriptures and theoretical knowledge.
- Acupuncture is a method of sticking needles on certain meridian points on the body to help the Qi (vital energy) to flow smoothly through the body. Chinese philosophy uses the concept of yin-yang, wherein everything in the world has an opposite that moves in harmony with it. Qi is intangible and is the yang of the body – its tangible counterpart is yin, represented by Blood in the body.
- Judo (meaning “gentle way‟) is a Japanese martial art which generally uses the opponent‟s force against him. Though developed as a fighting art, its philosophy extends towards improving its practitioner’s physical and spiritual health.