I was listening to the audiobook Light Warrior, by Kyle Gray, and he talked about his weight and how he avoided the physical aspect of his wellness by stating, "I was more than a body and the only thing that mattered was my spirit!" He stated that it took a while for him to realize that the outer work he did on his body would reflect on his inner wellness by creating a synergy of balance and love that would move through him mentally, spiritually, and even physically.
Hearing that was an A-HA moment for me! Long ago, I noticed a direct correlation between exercise and my emotions. I noticed that If I went without exercising for a week, I would be much more emotional and much less tolerant. I knew that I needed physical exertion to manage my mental health, but I didn't think about it as a way for spiritual growth until that moment.
I didn't realize it but running would become pivotal for my conscious awakening. I used to hate running, and some days I still do, but it wasn't until I started to run that I discovered what it means to be fully present in my body. Running is meditation for me. It’s a practice that allows me to quiet my mind and release what no longer serves me, such as my limiting beliefs. One such belief I've been able to let go was that taking a walk break during a run equated to weakness.
One summer, I was on a 14-mile trail run; it was a training run for an upcoming marathon. That day it was very hot, the landscape was dry, and there was very little shade along the trail. I was 10 miles in and wanted to call it, but I could hear the voice of Bossy Babe in my head coaxing me along. Believe it or not, she helps me by challenging myself to go past my limits. However, if I fail, she is also the one who berates me until I end up feeling bad about myself.
I remember wanting to start with intervals of running and walking during the last 4 miles, but Bossy Babe wasn’t having it. She started, telling me that my running friends would disapprove, people would say I am a jogger not a runner and so on and so on.
So, I trotted along, tired, hot, sunburned, and defeated when all of a sudden I felt another rise up within me. A new voice started talking with Bossy Babe and asked, "So what if she walked? So what if the people she ran with abandoned her because she was doing intervals? Why can't she do intervals if she truly wants to?" I felt like a child listening to my mom and dad debate on whether or not I should go bike riding alone. While listening to this new voice advocate for me, I felt the truth in her words. It was then that I felt ME arise from deep within and arrive fully in my body. I was standing in my own
self-authority and truth. And yes, I did intervals the last two miles. In fact, I still use the walk-run method today.
The voice who advocated for me wasn’t Bossy Babe, it was MY TRUTH, the voice that gently nudges me when there’s something I need to be aware of, MY authentic truth, my soul voice.
Physical health is one part of the foundational triad of our human existence - Mind, Body, and Soul. You cannot focus on one of the aspects and ignore the rest without disrupting the balance. We know exercise does a body good and clears the mind. But, how do you feed the soul while exercising? Glad you asked! I found a few ways that have helped me when I am moving my body:
Listen to inspirational music, an audiobook, a podcast, or just allow yourself to feel into your environment by listening to nature's music, whether it's the birds singing or the wind rustling through the trees or even the hum of a treadmill.
Spend time in nature. I run outside because it's in nature where I feel deeply connected to the world around me. Connecting with the outer world while in motion helps quiet the mind and allows time to reflect on what is in your field of awareness.
Practice mindfulness. Check-in with your body as you move. If thoughts come up and your mind wanders, come back to your breath and mindfully be aware of how your body naturally breathes when you are in motion.
Feel gratitude. Think of people, events, anything that brings you joy, and as you move your body, send them positive energy or prayers of gratitude.
Create a personal mantra and rhythmically repeat it as you breathe in and out. As you breathe in, say, "I breathe in life and vitality."; As you breathe out, you say, "I release self-doubt." Or perhaps, with each breath, you just repeat an affirmation, "I am strong." "I am worthy."
Just as a doctor will tell you that every muscle is connected (I had a doctor dig into the side of my neck because I had a pain in my thumb, and it helped.), our mind, body, and soul are connected, and that balance is reflected in the life we live.
Harbhajan Singh Yogi said, "Your mind, emotions and body are instruments and the way you align and tune them determines how well you play life."
How well will you play life?
Be you, Be Radiant and Be Active,
Here is a playlist that will make you want to move your body! Dance, Run, or just shake it all out! It's all good!
Here is one more playlist to slow down, quiet the mind, and reflect. You can even use it with your yoga practice.