For the past 6 months I’ve been as faithful to my spiritual practice as I’ve always been to my physical fitness practice. The discipline to wake each morning and consciously take time to be still, quiet, and patient can be more difficult than cultivating the motivation for a 10-mile run that’s mostly uphill.
Why? Because, I know it’s going to challenge me. I know it’s going to bring darkness from within into the light, and I know it’s going to be more uncomfortable than a set of walking lunges with a heavy barbell over my shoulders followed by a grueling set of tuck jumps.
I believe that learning to push to the edge physically through sport and training and come out on top feeling grateful for the struggle and experience itself has prepared me to go beyond the surface level, allow the trauma, shame, guilt, and self-consciousness I’ve experienced to be dug up and bubble to the surface for healing.
When I wake in the morning, I can feel what kind of meditation I’m going to experience. Sometimes I wake up feeling light, bubbly, and joyful. On those mornings my meditations are usually inspiring, motivating, and filled with enthusiasm helping me sew ideas together or lead to new sparks of creative insight. Other mornings I wake up with a heavy feeling in my gut, and it’s not from something I ate the night before. I know something “heavy” from deep down must be expressed. It reminds me of the feeling of not wanting to go to the gym, but knowing I have to stay consistent with my workouts in order to get results. Meditation works the same way.
On those mornings when I feel resistance, I want to run to my computer and get right to work or go straight to the gym with the intention of shifting my focus to my physical body rather than addressing my subtle body, but I know the darkness will keep creeping in unless I face it now.
It takes a lot of courage to be with those feelings. Just like with fitness and weight-loss it ain’t easy! But, routine and consistency helps.
I pull out my cushion, play tranquil music or mantras, breathe, and wait. It’s similar to a yoga pose–you get into position, tweak your alignment, and then just remain still to fully express and experience the pose.
I feel the darkness start to bubble to the surface. I want to resist, but make the decision to let it be even if I squirm the whole way through. Sometimes I cry and don’t even know where it’s coming from. Sometimes I know exactly what it is and what is being healed. A majority of the time I am forgiving myself, seeing myself in the past and offering love and forgiveness to that girl or woman.
When I’ve reached the pinnacle and worked through the challenge I’m filled with the same euphoric feeling I get from hitting a new personal best in the gym or seeing improvements in my health and physique from the hard work I’ve put in. I feel light, bubbly, filled with enthusiasm, confident, and whole.
It took me many years to be able to just BE. To just sit in meditation, confront the ego, and begin to tear it down. What helped me get to this point is using my workouts as a means of meditation for years prior to my sitting meditation practice. When I’m in the gym lifting weights, flowing in yoga class, or out in nature hiking or trail running it’s my time to connect to the power within, feel the light of the inner spark of divinity that resides in my soul, and connect to Source.
If you’re feeling resistance in your meditation practice I recommend starting with movement. Set the intention to connect to your higher self prior to your workout. Feel the sensations of your muscles working, your heart rate increasing, and your breath flowing throughout your body to sustain the effort.
Once you start moving your body everything moves–your brain starts working, spitting out creative sparks of insight, and memories may begin to flow freely digging past hurt and pain up to the surface for healing. Take in the experience and release anything that no longer serves you.
Often times I will download creative insights during my workouts. I like to keep a pen and paper handy or use the notepad app on my phone to jot down ideas.
I like to end all of my workouts whether it’s yoga or weight lifting with a very gently cool-down. I am compassionate and gentle with myself as I believe the more compassion we can show ourselves increases our capacity to be compassionate and gentle with others. I like to wrap up with a silent prayer offering gratitude for the practice, for showing up, and for the connection to Source.
When I do this, I’m not just working out. I’m working in. I’m meditating and connecting to the best part of myself–the God who lives within.
Photo: Sugar Los Angeles Model: Carissa Dale