Articles

Our Physical body

What is your relationship with your physical body? Do you derive enjoyment and pleasure from it? Do you love and respect it equally to your mind and spirit? Do you treat it as part of your being, listen to its needs and take care of it, or consider it something foreign and very often neglect it?

Body vs. Mind
It is a common misconception that the physical body is a hard, fixed material object or mechanism, separated from the mind, its lighter counterpart which reflects all the spiritual qualities of the human being. This Cartesian duality is deeply engraved in the social unconscious of the Western world and it is the reason why the body is quite often mistreated, objectified, even deemed evil and sinful.

Mind and body interact in so many different ways. If you observe your thoughts closely, you will realize how a thought can trigger an emotion, which in its turn can move the body to react in diverse ways. When you think that the world is cruel and unfriendly, sadness can cause your eyes to tear, your muscles and joints to hurt, your immune system to weaken. When you make stressful thoughts, your cortisol levels rise high and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. When you make joyful and loving thoughts, your body also reacts by releasing endorphins and serotonin in the brain, by causing you to smile, lowering your blood pressure and making your skin glow. Also, remember how your body moves when you listen to your favorite music or you taste delicious food.

We are multidimensional beings, having a physical existence, but also emotions, thoughts and energetic bodies. All these dimensions are interconnected in so many ways that a physical imbalance can affect the emotional, mental and energetic state of the person and the other way around. Health can be achieved if the different aspects of existence are united, balanced and flow towards one direction. If thoughts, emotions, body and energy are conflicted or going towards opposite directions, then there will be illness and suffering. The same will happen if one of these aspects is neglected, suppressed, not allowed to grow and flourish.

Taking care of the physical body is, in other words, as important as balancing your thoughts, emotions and energy. Also, training the body is as significant as training your mind, as the body has the capacity to change, evolve and become stronger and immune to illness.

The body enables us to experience life
Our body is, in fact, a gateway to the reality of the world we inhabit. Through the senses, the very consciousness that resides in the body can experience the surrounding universe. Our eyes enable us to see the beauty of life. Without our ears, we wouldn’t be able to listen to the sound of the sea waves or the voice of our beloved people. You can actually think of the body as an extension of “inner” consciousness into the “outer” reality. It is the means which make it possible for us to experience the world and communicate with it, the primary vehicle of our life on Earth; some also call it “the temple of the soul”.

Your physical body assists you in experiencing the world. It is made to let you feel reality through the senses and, as a consequence, through pleasure or pain. Children, even more than adults, explore material reality through taste, touch, smell, vision and hearing. From our first months of life, we are so involved in the process of “learning” about the world through our physical connection with it. Being alive is associated with a vibrant body, living every moment, absorbing the beauty and magic of existence and interacting with it in order to derive meaningful realizations. Of course, realization and knowledge do not only result from physical experience, but allowing this interplay of body and environment without repressing it can be the starting point to a profound understanding of our existence.

In our day and time, we are offered so many opportunities for travelling, interacting with people, getting to know the world, and, at the same time, our bodies are being suppressed more than ever. Stuck all day long in front of a computer, tablet or mobile phone screen, some of us may often feel like we are carrying a massive brain on a tiny body whose needs are not entirely met, being so lost in the mind and having lost contact with the rest. Becoming separated from our physical side means we are denying one very significant aspect of our being. Therefore, suppression should give way to freedom. We can be mentally efficient and grow spiritually only if we accept and release all the aspects that comprise who we are. It is important, to this end, to embrace also the needs of our body and learn how to meet them.

Taking care of the body
In order to be healthy and strong, the body requires balanced nutrition, a balanced combination of movement and rest, as well as freedom of expression. Listening to the body and learning to decode its signals is essential. Each and every body is unique: some need a lot of movement and little rest, while others require a lot of rest and a calm form of exercise. Experimenting with different food, types of exercise, sleep patterns and forms of expression can lead you to understand what your body is asking from you. But the most important is to accept your body and learn to love it as it is, without judgment.

Accepting, loving the body and learning to listen to it may not come intuitively and it requires some effort in the beginning, especially because of the fact that you will need to substitute your unhealthy habits and patterns with new, healthy ones, not only on a physical but also on an emotional and mental level. Meditation and yoga can help you cultivate a state of unity and harmony within. In this way, you can give back to your body the attention, respect, balance, connection, health and freedom that it has been longing for.

The power of imagination

Not long ago I read the following legend of the birth of Quetzalcoatl, one of the major Toltec deities, as narrated by Don José Ruiz, in his book The Wisdom of the Shamans: What the Ancient Masters Can Teach Us about Love and Life. “Quetzalcoatl” is a word meaning “the feathered serpent”, and the story I’m about to recount is one of a small snake realizing its power and flying to the sun with its wings of imagination.

Tlaloc, the god of rain was sitting on a cloud, preparing to send rain to offer the water of life to the earth. As he looked down more carefully, he noticed a beautiful cave, where snakes went to drink water. He saw a small snake that was too scared to go out of the cave and into the light; instead, it preferred to hide in the darkness and safety of the cave.

The god, watching the little snake being so terrified, felt love and compassion for it and decided to help it crawl out of the darkness of the cave and towards the light. To do that, the god started a heavy rain. It kept raining for days, weeks and months, until the water entered the cave and flooded it.

All the snakes were hurrying to abandon the cave for a better shelter, but the little snake, being too scared to leave, tried to crawl to the highest rock, in order to avoid the water. Tlaloc saw the snake’s fear, but he knew that only through suffering, could it find the courage to leave its cave.

When finally the snake had no other choice, it slowly crawled out of the cave. The god stopped the rain at once. The clouds then scattered away and the sun started shining bright again.

The little serpent was in awe, astounded by the sunlight and the world outside the cave, which it had never seen before. It felt the warmth of the sun on its skin and marveled at the beauty of life. Looking up towards the sky, it saw the most exquisite creatures: magnificent birds with colorful feathers flying around it, the quetzals.A serpent that had been watching the scene all along, asked: “Do you want to be as beautiful as these birds?” The little snake nodded. But the serpent whispered: “Forget it! You are, and will always be, a snake! You were born to crawl and you will never fly like a quetzal!” Our little snake was heartbroken.

Seeing the disappointment in the heart of the snake, Tlaloc made the sun shine like never before and the reflection of the snake appeared in the water. The snake saw the reflection of its eyes in the water for the first time and realized the power in its soul.

“I may not have feathers, but I have the power of imagination, and with this power I can make anything possible, because I believe in myself”, it said.

On hearing that the snake had realized its true power and was no longer afraid of the Light, Tlaloc decided to help it a bit more, by blowing air on it so that it could go higher and higher and start flying. Feeling more alive than ever and having completely overcome its fear of the Light, the snake flew towards the sun. It entered the body of the sun and became one with it. At that moment of absolute unity, an eclipse was generated! What came out of the sun was not a little snake anymore, but a magnificent feathered serpent: Quetzalcoatl.

The enlightened flying serpent could now fly without the help of the god, as it had mastered the power of its imagination and believed that it could transform itself into something higher than before. And so it did.

Never underestimate the power of your imagination. Believe that you can and you will achieve anything you set your mind to.

The importance of being a warrior

We all watch movies with big, mighty warriors and admire them. We admire their strength in adversities, their ability to fight for a higher purpose and their bravery, their emotional strength.

These battles they are fighting are fictional, but each one of us is fighting their own real battle in everyday life. It is therefore important to fight, not like someone who has been thrown in the battlefield without knowing what they are doing or without having enough courage to deal with the situation. You have to fight like a real warrior.

What is a real warrior?
It is someone who is very well skilled and has knowledge of how to behave in difficult situations, how to remain calm and manage one’s emotions; one who does not lose hope or faith when the tough moment comes; one who may be afraid, but knows that they can be stronger than fear; one who is connected to a higher intention and can even sacrifice their life to serve this intention.

Why is it so important to be a warrior?
Of course, you will not start wearing your shining armour, carrying a sword and fighting with everyone. Being a warrior is symbolic and refers mostly to your capacity for showing bravery in adverse circumstances. It is an inner strength, a will-power that everyone possesses, but few awaken and use in their life. This force sometimes emerges through the difficulty of the situation which requires one to face reality with strength. One can also cultivate it beforehand and be ready when the time comes.

How can one be a warrior in daily life?
First, it is imperative that you know how to manage your mind and emotions, as they may wander in all directions and make you stray from your intention. Meditation can be very beneficial in helping you create a stable emotional state and a clear mindset.

Second, you need to reinforce your personal power, by stretching your limits and going out of your ‘comfort zone’. In this way, you can feel your strength and start seeing the powerful you. To achieve this, you can do activities that you were always afraid of doing, such as going to the top of a high mountain.

Finally, having a clear and higher intention can help one overcome fear. Whatever the outcome of your battle, you can derive great force and power from believing in a higher cause and making an effort to achieve it.
Have faith and courage in all your battles!

Limiting Beliefs, and how to get rid of them

Every day, you have approximately 60.000-80.000 thoughts, according to experts. However, some of these thoughts are repeated so often that they become the foundation of beliefs you base your life on.

Not all thoughts are products of conscious rationalizing. Unconscious thoughts and processes are taking place inside your brain, in order to create and sustain a stable image of your self (identity) and your reality, attempting to reach a state of equilibrium and enabling survival. There are also beliefs that form part of the collective unconscious, which are directly assimilated without conscious processing and dictate the way you live. Or thoughts that echo the beliefs of your parents, your teachers, your friends, your favorite TV persona, thoughts that you unconsciously adopt as your core beliefs.

How Core Beliefs Can Become Limiting

Core beliefs can be beneficial, until the moment when they start contradicting the natural flow of your life. Imagine, for instance, that you are convinced of the importance of listening to the other people’s opinion before you take a decision, and there comes a moment when you realize that the others start having control over your life because of this belief. Or, on the contrary, you may take for granted that you should listen to no one before deciding on a matter, which may lead to you becoming alienated from your surroundings or too judgmental of them. In each of the above cases, life will lead you to a point where you will have to adapt your beliefs or face negative consequences.

But why do we cast a blind eye on these beliefs, which can be detrimental to our physical and psychological health? Let’s say that the initial intention is good, because they are created for the sake of sustaining stability, avoiding trauma and minimizing risks. When a thought seems helpful, beneficial, safeguarding or convenient, we tend to identify with it and create a pattern out of it, in order to know how to act in similar situations in the future. Patterns may sometimes seem to facilitate our life, acting as an auto-pilot belief system or even as a defense mechanism. However, they very often limit us and put us in a “mental box”, inside which we feel safe and outside of which we suffer.

This safety net is elusive, as life itself is “out of the box”, completely unpredictable. Even more, it can act as an invisible trap, one that is extremely difficult to escape, since one is unaware of its existence.

Can you imagine how your life would be if you started substituting your limiting patterns and thoughts with new, more positive ones that would enable you to live like you had always dreamed of? If every “I can’t” was substituted with “I can”? If every “I’m not good at this” was substituted with “I can be good at this” and if every “I’m not enough” was substituted with “I am infinite”?

Identifying Negative Core Beliefs

But how do you know which thoughts can be limiting? You need to look into your life and spot any areas in which you are struggling, facing problems or feeling stuck. Then ask yourself why you think you have ended up in this difficult or unwanted state or situation. You will be surprised to find out that a great deal of the explanations you will attempt to offer will involve negative statements about yourself (“I’m ugly”) or others (“everyone else is better than me”), or limiting generalized beliefs about the world that often have a negative streak (“rich people are always mean”).

Identifying and getting rid of your limiting beliefs can be a long and soul-searching process and may not happen overnight. It is, however, essential for you to get to the roots of those beliefs if you want to improve your quality of life, find happiness and realize what you truly stand for, as very often core beliefs are in the way between what you really want and what others have made you think you want. It is, therefore, important to observe your inner dialogue and negative patterns of thinking, in order to find peace of mind, harmony and bliss.

Getting Rid of Limiting Patterns

If you have decided that you really wish to alter your limiting beliefs and change your life, then this is how you can start:

1. Going a bit “Out of your Mind”:
Following the logic of the beliefs you have had so far will not help you eliminate them. If you want to evolve or change something in an area of your life, you need to start not only thinking but also acting out of the box, out of your own box. Dare to do things you would never do before. Go on a date with that person that seems out of your reach. Speak out your true feelings to a member of your family, your partner, your child, your boss or a friend. Go on this long trip to the other side of the world. Apply for your dream job. Challenge yourself, defy your fears, and you will see your defenses break and a renewed, powerful you come onto the surface. People will probably think you have become a bit crazy, but you know better than that.

2. Making the Unknown Known:
We are sometimes scared of change because we don’t know what lies beyond our habitual reality. And it is sometimes important to make radical changes so as to move on and become happier. In order to overcome fear, you can start by exploring all your options and getting familiarized with the alternatives. Inner change and consciousness shift can be complemented by an effort to make external alterations. Making small steps into learning more about what seems unknown and frightening will help you gain confidence and regain your personal power. If you are afraid of climbing high mountains, you can first search for hills in your area and start hiking. If you are scared of making a long-term relationship commitment, you can start by making small daily commitments and see how this changes your life. If creating your own business scares you out, start by learning the basics of management and economics and applying them to create something small at first. The best way to overcome fear and limitation is to start making the unknown known, step-by-step.

3. Meditating and observing:
Meditation is a perfect way to stay in the present moment, connected with your soul’s true power. In the beginning it can be very hard to “turn off” your mind during meditation, but with practice you can learn to let go and surrender to the center of your being. The more you practice, the more you will start looking at your reality from the viewpoint of the observer and becoming skillful at identifying your limiting beliefs. By opening up your intuition and insight, you will also realize how to break free from them. Meditation and self-awareness is crucial in order to re-establish contact with yourself, your true wishes and your higher purpose. Being aligned with your higher intention will help clear out the clutter of false beliefs and limiting patterns.

4 Finding your community:
Sharing your newfound realizations with like-minded people can be of great help in a period of soul searching. Understanding your core beliefs and attempting to shift them may lead you to re-evaluate some of your close personal relationships. People on the same path or with the same (or higher) intention as you can be true companions in your personal development. They can even see through a negative pattern you are not aware of and give you clearer insight into it. Learning to step out of limiting relationships and entering new more meaningful ones can also be part of the process of evolving, becoming free and improving your life quality.