Move your body, move your world
Life requires movement.
Movement is essential for wellbeing – in moderation, of course, as with everything (interestingly the main well preserved inscriptions at the Oracle of Delphi read: “Know thyself” and “Everything in moderation.” Hmmmm). The benefits of exercise, after conquering the initial resistance until the body learns to enjoy itself and reap the rewards of the release of toxins as well as the feel-good chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine), include stress relief and the regulation and balancing of physical and energetic systems. Not only do our muscles and self-esteem benefit, but also our nerves, our hormones, our emotions and our mind, which becomes ‘magically’ clearer.
Exercise also offers one of the very few socially acceptable and beneficial outlets for healthy aggression and competition in the Western world. One word of caution here, physical workouts can become highly addictive and damaging to the body if over-indulged in. Please be mindful of the balance needed for your health and note that emotional work cannot and should not be avoided through exercise, but can be a wonderful complement to it. It is through exploring the discipline of movement that we learn about non-violence, towards oneself and another.
Besides familiar gym workouts, the below activities are recommended because of their proven holistic effect on wellbeing and mind/body/spirit connection. The key is regularity and consistency, also known as discipline, as the below systems have depth and subtlety to them that can only develop with time, as with all things that can lead one to true mastery and the recognition of the deeper Self.
Also called “contrology,” the aim of this practice is to develop core strength and stability of the body while enhancing the mind/body connection through controlled and precise movement as well as attention to breathing. Although this form of movement does not incorporate awareness of energy directly like for example yoga does, it does focus on building up concentration and balance while developing strength, posture and alignment on a physical level along with mental resilience and discipline. Like yoga, there are different types of classes and levels to choose from (with or without specialised equipment), and if you are adventurous, try a “reformer” type class which gives you the illusion of flying!
I move, therefore I am.
An ancient way of moving energy through and around the body, Qigong is a lot of things, including a healing system. As we move we start to feel our subtle bodies more and more and then we can uncover where there are any blocks to the flow and release them naturally. Physical ailments no longer need to manifest, as they have been dealt with on the subtle level. As you work with life force energy directly and align your relationship to it, your quality of life improves, often dramatically. The key to this practice is, well, practice. May the force be with you (and as any Qigong master would confirm, it already is anyway).
Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Therefore the master takes action
by letting things take their course.
She remains as calm at the end
as at the beginning.
There’s something magical about gentle yet ordered movement in a large group. One soon catches the rhythm and discovers the paradox of what it is to be oneself and part of a larger whole at the same time, all through the art of measured, synchronised movement. Tai chi practice can teach lot of things, about boundaries, about measure itself – every little movement is neither too much, nor too little but just so. Even if one is just a beginner, soon the energy of the group envelopes one into its larger harmony and suddenly that harmony starts also appearing on the inside, along with peace and the magical ability of being able to find one’s place in most situations...It has to be experienced to be believed.
As every person who tried yoga for the first time soon discovers, it is not as easy as it looks and even those that consider themselves fit, find out about muscles and body spots that they never knew existed – or could shake! Please have realistic expectations and do not feel you have to be the embodiment of grace and lotus-like perfection after a week.
The pay off comes right after your class concludes with Shivasana (literally “corpse pose”!) – the beginners’ favourite pose of rest after all the exertion and you’ll find the good vibes tend to flow long into your day afterwards. The recommended way to learn yoga is to find a dedicated “real deal” type of school that has a deeper understanding of its chosen tradition (and there are many to choose from such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, etc. - all with a different focus) and the deeper wisdom behind the poses. Such schools tend to offer longer courses at different levels where you can develop your skills over time and receive some personal attention from your teacher. Yoga teaches you how to move and be with your body in subtle ways: I was most impressed during one of my very first classes with a gentleman well into his 80s doing a headstand (I certainly couldn’t do it!). Right then and there I decided that I want to age just like that, too.
Yoga is great for developing mindfulness skills and can help with moving emotional energy as well, especially Yin yoga, where you mostly stay low on the mat and hold the poses longer, allowing you to melt into them in contemplation if you fancy a more meditative practice.
You’ll soon notice that on some days the tree pose will just not be happening and on others you’ll be on fire. And your allergies, chronic pain issues and people frustrations might just ‘magically’ start disappearing as your inner calm settles into a new groove.
Caution not spirit, let it roam wild;
for in that natural state
dance embraces divine frequency.
―Shah Asad Rizvi
There is tribal dance, and conscious dancing, Five Rhythms and dancing in the dark, literally. For the pure joy of it. Whether we’re twerking, tangoeing, waltzing, skipping around a fire, or footloosing it, dancing is about self-expression and relationship – to oneself, one’s body and other bodies. It is poetry in motion, a rebellion, a striving for perfection, an art of expressing human experience and a dialogue – also with the divine, say the whirling dervishes. Whatever your moves, polka, hipster, glam or headbanger, this art form should be scheduled in and the world would be a happier place instantly. Let’s make it so, starting with us.
Traveler, there are no paths.
Paths are made by walking.
Australian aboriginal equivalent of Native American vision quest journey, this is “hiking in nature” on a much grander or rather deeper scale. This is treating your venturing into the wild as communion with the unknown both in yourself and in the wilderness, and opening yourself up for it to guide you. Nature can serve as an oracle, a friend, a fierce teacher and a mirror. It can help you find your place in the dance of life again. It can offer sacred space for the weary and a cauldron for the warrior spirit within to be reborn. Whatever your situation, formulate an intention or a question before your outing, whether it is for a few hours, days, weeks or even longer, and allow yourself the space and the inner silence to truly see and listen – this is called dadirri, deep listening with the whole body for truth, with both trust and surrender – and let the signs come to you. They may appear in your dreams, as sudden insights, or as impossibly miraculous wild animal encounters.... Let your universe speak to you and she will and when it happens, you will know.
“Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness
with all that lives and breathes,
even with all that does not live or breathe.”