For this week's Wednesday Warrior post I will be taking you along on my journey through the 7th metaphor from the book The Hidden Spirituality of Men - Then Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine by Matthew Fox. The 7th metaphor is titles "Our Cosmic and Animal Bodies" it discusses how we are all made of star stuff and other cool stuff about the body. It discusses the importance of respecting our bodies animal nature. Also discussed are exercise and food from a different perspective than you have probably heard in a long time, if ever. As a spiritual journey we do talk about our bodies chakras. As we see some all these amazing aspects of our spiritual bodies me may see an imbalance in your body awareness. This chapter and journey will also discuss recovering that awareness.
The Amazing Human Body
Scientifically speaking ( and sounding rather spiritual ) our bodies are made of star stuff! ( See the video at the end for a tribute to this statement ). Throughout our lives we probably hear all sorts of amazing facts about our bodies, from how many times our heart beats, to the strength of our bones, to the amazing control our brain can have over our body. Even with this information we still, most likely, go throughout our day without giving its fascinating abilities and nature a second thought. The fact that we don't have to think about it is really just more proof as to how amazing it is. If we start with a sense of awe and thankfulness for our bodies we can move through this metaphor quite easily.
Body as Shadow
In our modern culture we often lose this sense of wonder about our bodies. Early on in life we are taught to dismiss the joy of using our bodies. We are taught to settle down, to sit still. And while the brain is a part of the body, our relatively new focus on using just that is hindering our body whole ( including the brain ). What synapses aren't getting connected as we sit still? ( Says the guy who is sitting still typing this blog post :) ). We are animals and we need to move. My 6 year old practically vibrates he needs to move so much. It helps him think and focus if he moves while he is using his brain. Thank goodness my wife is homeschooling him, the school system we currently have has no clue what to do with our animal requirement of movement ( except P.E. ). Perhaps this lack of respect is a part of some of the health problems in our culture. Surely we can see the link between motionlessness and obesity. The more we train ourselves to sit still when we are young, the more difficult it is to move when we are older. How would our culture look, how would we look physically if we once again started to honor our bodies? [ad#Google Adsense]
Our Sacred Bodies
Some people seem to already honor their bodies and often proclaim that,"My body is a temple." What does that mean really? For them it might mean that they exercise regularly and maybe they have a good diet. If we take it further, and look at the spiritual context of this statement we can see more. According to dictionary.com a temple can be anything from a building devoted to some public use to any place or object in which God dwells. Though the last one comes from Christianity and I am not much of a Christian I believe that definition holds the most power. If your body is an object in which God dwells how would you treat it? Maybe for you, you might start to dance. Not a bad idea, dancing is awesome exercise and has a very ancient spiritual history. For myself, this chapter and questions like this finally had me run. I had tried to run in the past for sure, but I never took it seriously. I have never seen myself as a runner and in this space of my body temple I recreated myself as one. I found the Couch to 5K program ( C25K ) and I have been following it strictly, running 3 times per week. Running in the rain, the wind and the freezing cold. Some days have taken me as many as 5 attempts to complete, but I did keep trying until I completed them. I am now on week 8 and this past Monday completed day 1. If you haven't checked the schedule, that's 28 minutes straight of running. Not only did I gain running ability, but I also gained many positive side effects. Running has been the thread for me that has connected, I believe, all the metaphors from this book in some way. In fact, at some point I will discuss how running has affected me in greater detail including its relationship to the 10 metaphors. After I complete the C25K program what's next? I don't know, but running has always been the beginnings of properly training parkour so next I'll probably create myself as a traceur.
The Many Languages of the Body
If you want to communicate with someone how do you do it? You might think it is with words, but studies have shown that a majority of communication is body language. In this book Matthew Fox let's John Conger speak about 7 different languages we have, only one of which is actual verbal communication:
- Innate patterns recognized by psychology
- The artistry of senses
- Signs and symbols
All these different methods of communication require our bodies for some of the communication.
Food - Holy and Cosmic
Not only are the movements of our body incredible but so is that which we use to fuel our body. Our bodies are made from star stuff and so is the food take in. Plants have taken the energy from the sun and grown. Animals have eaten plants, or other animals, to help them grow. We eat both plants and animals to make ourselves grow. Of course we do, we are animals ourselves. In the end we feed the plants as our bodies decompose in the ground. Ashes to ashes, (cosmic) dust to dust. This food chain, this cycle of life is so beautiful in it's simplicity. In the Hunter Gatherer metaphor I mentioned how some cultures thank an animal for giving their life so that we may live. In rereading this chapter I saw that, even though I don't say grace before a meal this practice could help me both spiritual and in raising my 2 boys ( a spiritual journey unto itself ). Through being thankful to animals who gave their lives and standing in awe of the universe for providing the fruits, vegetables and grains we can offer up good fodds to our body temples.
The Chakras: Rediscovering our Sacred Bodies
I some trouble fully connecting with the concept of chakras. However, the second reading of this chapter gave me more insight into chakras as junctions of energy. If our bodies are a temple, these are the places that our spiritual energy meets to create. I won't get into the details of each chakra as there are books galore on the topic and this book ( buy it if you haven't already! ) is only a place to start but I will speak to the concept in general. All these metaphors in the book overlap in different ways and the chakras seem to be the overlap between Our Cosmic, Animal Bodies and the Spiritual Warrior. From the connection to the earth, to the strength of inner values, the wisdom and the powerful force to be reckoned with chakras have the pieces that make up the warrior. [ad#Books Banner]
Recovering Body Awareness: Four Practical Steps
Like many of the other metaphors in this book you might get into the chapter and see that there is a missing in your life but the how and what of rebalancing is missing. This section is a good start and I found it very helpful. Step One: Grounding - Before I created myself as a runner, I did get a book called Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. It helped me a lot in my form ( which helped me when I became a runner ) but it wasn't a program so its benefits at the time of reading were limited. The lessons in it are invaluable to me now but one in particular was a warm up that he talks about which is specific to being grounded. So now, as I run, I am present to being grounded and thus connected to my green man and mother earth. Step Two: Boundaries - Boundaries are important, but we have less and less practice at honoring them with others. This book has a specific exercise you can try, but you can start by learn your personal comfort zones with different types of people and honoring your own. Also, boundaries aren't about keeping people out. The same way that rules in a pro wrestling match are there so you know when the heel is cheating, boundaries are there so you can let people in when you care for them. Without proper respect for boundaries and their role you miss that important aspect to interpersonal relationships. Step Three: Breathing - Sorry to go back to my practice of running again but this is a huge thing I've gotten from running. Respecting my breathing and breathing consciously have been vital to running itself and given me practice for steadying my breathing in other parts of my life. Conscious breathing is important, not only to exercise but to many forms of meditation and relaxation. That is probably why so many people have taken to Yoga, where breathing and relaxation are the core of the workout. Step Four: Feeling - Reach out with your feelings. Feelings are emotion mixed with physical sensations. To feel something means to both be sensing something you are touching and to have emotions about something. For myself, fatherhood has sent this power into overdrive. I've always been more of a feeling guy but those two little boys have brought my emotions to the surface. This tells me that the image of a "real" man who doesn't cry is false. There is too much spiritual energy wrapped in your emotions that to not feel is to not really be a man. It is scary, especially to feel around people who are not your family but it is powerful. Start to look at this, not as a weakness but as a strength. It doesn't mean you need to get soppy over every terrible written sappy cliché in a movie, but it does mean you can start to connect with the world and people around you on a more emotional level.
This metaphor finishes up with the author sharing a poem and discussing our physical bodies in relation to our spiritual bodies. The poem is a good reminder to love our bodies. Not just the body whole, but the body parts as well. From our head to our toes to our heart, lungs, liver and more we have much to be thankful for. As for the relationship between our spiritual and physical bodies, common teaching says that our spirit resides in our bodies. The author, and I agree with him on this, says that is backwards. Our physical bodies are actual inside of our spirit. Its hokey, but when someone says they can see your aura it is really your spiri(ual body) which is actually on the outside. I'd like to think it is the way in which people are still with us, even after their physical bodies are returning to the dirt to feed the plants.
And now for something a little different. The spirituality of science, because we all are made of star stuff ( and that is so frickin' cool! ).
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