Tag Archives: Spiritual Health

AWAKENING SPIRIT TO THE COMEDY OF LIFE

“What a wonderful life I’ve had! – I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”  Colette

I used to think that happiness was created “out there” by other people, food or music, or things going my way.  Now I know it comes from within and that I can choose my experience.  I can write my own spiritual script.

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” Shakespeare 

Playing the Enlightened Fool

Our lives are the most important story we will ever write and this physical existence is the stage where we have chosen to play out our stories.  Is yours a comedy, tragedy or melodrama?  Although mine often feels like a tragedy or a melodrama, I try at least to give it comic overtones.  Sometimes I enjoy playing the fool, who, if you remember from Shakespeare’s plays, was often wiser than the hero.  The fool was often the means by which the power of the time was encouraged to laugh at itself.

When my ego begins to think it’s going to run the show, I try to play the fool and laugh at myself.  There was a time when I couldn’t do this at all.  I was a very insecure young person and very self-conscious, always afraid of someone’s criticism or of being rejected.  I was very serious about everything and considered too much laughter trivial.  I couldn’t stand to be laughed at.  Now I revel in it.

Laughing for Spiritual Well-Being

One aspect of happiness is being able to laugh at ourselves.  This is such a gift.  If we can laugh at our shortcomings and mistakes and accept our humanity, we can avoid the kind of self-criticism that tears us down.  It’s always wise to take a good look at our mistakes and understand how to avoid them or correct a problem we’ve created.  But it’s not spiritually healthy to become attached to our negative thinking.

Laughing at our foibles lifts up our energy vibration.  When we’re happy, we’re more likely to make positive decisions and find positive solutions to problems.  Playing the fool once in a while helps keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, for taking ourselves too seriously often sets up a resistance that creates more problems.

Releasing Resistance Frees Us

The most important resistance we need to avoid and release is the need to be right.  This is often the flaw we see in Shakespeare’s tragic characters.  Unable to view their challenges with a more flexible mind set, they follow a path that eventually destroys all they value.  Like these characters, we may become so attached to a particular point of view that we are unable to see the weaknesses in our thinking and plunge headlong into a disaster.  Laughing at ourselves or being laughed at can often break this unhealthy attachment and release the resistance.

Choosing the Gift of Happiness

I love this quote by Colette:  “What a wonderful life I’ve had! – I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”   What are you focusing on in your life?  Are you making the time to enjoy Nature, your friends and family or creative outlets? Are you finding something to be grateful for each day?

In order to experience happiness, we have to be thankful for what we have and willing to let go of our need to control life.  The best laughter usually comes from the unexpected.  Caught by surprise by a spontaneous comment or response, we let go and enjoy the foolishness of the moment.

When I say things that really make people laugh, they are always unplanned and leap from my mouth before I even know what I intend to say.  From some place of inner joy or mischief, the idea leaps forth into being.  I’m always delighted when I can make others laugh, even when I embarrass myself.  No matter what is happening with the stock market, world economy, or the Turkeys on The Hill (as in D. C.), we all need some comedic interludes.  We need to remember that childhood joy is still alive in us and if we can’t solve our problems today or even tomorrow, we can celebrate our humanity and laugh it up.

Feel free to share a comment, a funny joke, or absurd thought.  Let’s laugh it up today.  We probably all need it.

© 2011 Georganne Spruce

Related Link:  Seven Secrets of a Joyful Life – Wayne Dyer

PRACTICING THE SPIRITUAL DANCE – FLEXIBILITY

“We learn by practice.  Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.  One becomes in some area an athlete of God.”  Martha Graham

Flexibility In The Dance Of Life

In life and dance, flexibility is an essential quality.  As we watch a modern or ballet dancer, we are amazed by the infinite variety of shapes through which she or he moves.  For dance, the body must be stretched beyond comfortable limits.  For life, our minds must be stretched as well.

Physical flexibility allows us to move with ease, letting the momentum of the movement carry us through space like a bird in flight riding the updrafts.  But spiritual and mental flexibility helps us to trust that what unfolds is good, even when it is challenging.

Flexibility Raises Conscious

An inflexible mind limits our lives as much as an inflexible body limits the dancer.  Oneness states, “There are no right and wrong choices.  There is simply action and reaction.  And both are intertwined in the eternal dance of life.” (p. 320)  Flexibility allows us to be more conscious, to be able to see what the possible consequences of certain actions may be and then to choose wisely the action we wish to take.

For example, I grew up with the notion that friends were forever.  At least that was the way it was supposed to be.  I still think this is a wonderful idea whenever it is possible to stay connected to the same friends for years.  But I came to realize that in our mobile society this is difficult.  If we are also growing and changing, it is inevitable that we will outgrow the value of some relationships and that they may become so diminished that we each need to move on.

Letting Go With Love

Is it wrong to walk away from people and circumstances that no longer support what is best for us?  If we are to be healthy, whatever and whoever is in our lives must be compatible with our spiritual path or else that energy will be depleting.  Learning to let go with love is just as valuable as being able to welcome what is new with love.  Sometimes letting go simply means thinking differently about a situation. We need the flexibility to make whatever choice is appropriate.

So in life, flexibility allows us to change our mind, see other points of view, and experiment in order to find healthy solutions to problems.  Life becomes an improvisation so that we are open to new possibilities.  It teaches the ego that it doesn’t always need to be right. This is why meditation is so helpful. In the silence, we are able to sense our oneness with all creation.  In this space we are in the flow and we surrender to life, just as the dancer surrenders to the dance, and we become “an athlete of God.”

When has changing your perspective helped you make a better choice? Please comment.

© 2011 Georganne Spruce

Related Readings:  Practicing the Spiritual Dance – Strength

Practicing the Spiritual Dance – Balancing

How Simple Thinking Leads to a Brilliant Mind

PRACTICING THE SPIRITUAL DANCE – DEVELOPING STRENGTH

“We learn by practice.  Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.  One becomes in some area an athlete of God.”  Martha Graham

Dance As A Physical And Spiritual Practice

The practice of dance is one of the most rigorous and spiritual disciplines that exists.  Like all practices, the more one learns, the more expansive are the results.  Each step along the way yields riches of the physical and spiritual kind that not only strengthen one’s dance skills, but which enhance all aspects of life.  Beginning with this post, I want to use the practice of dance as an analogy to the practices that can enhance our lives spiritually.

From 1960 to the mid-1980′s, I trained, performed for four years, and taught modern dance.  Its gifts were abundant!  Dance taught me about inner and outer strength, how to balance and center my body and mind, and the value of flexibility.  Learning the value of daily dance practice and seeing that it could result in my accomplishing something I thought I couldn’t do taught me why it is so important not to give up when life becomes difficult.

Learning modern dance was enormously challenging for me.  As a child, stricken by rheumatic fever and a heart murmur at four years of age, I was not allowed normal physical exercise, nor was I able to study ballet, which was my dream.  Fortunately, I out grew the heart murmur and at sixteen, my high school offered a modern dance class which I quickly embraced.  It was tough for a weakling like me, but with time I developed muscles that gave me strength and some shape to my skinny body. This was the time of Marilyn Monroe and years before Twiggy’s shape became the ideal.

Choosing Physical and Spiritual Health

Without physical strength, we cannot enjoy the activity of life, but we also need inner strength.  A few years ago when I fell on the ice and sustained a broken elbow and two pelvic fractures, I went through months of physical therapy determined to return to my former state of activity.  What I found shocking was that, according to my physical therapist, most people stop doing their exercises as soon as they leave the rehab facility.  As a result, they never fully recover, choosing to remain disabled rather than be disciplined and committed to their healing.

Empowering Ourselves

With any injury or challenge, we need the inner strength to persevere and take responsibility for doing all we can do to overcome the challengeThis is how we grow in confidence.  What dance taught me was that even when a new dance phrase was difficult and I struggled to perform it smoothly, if I kept going, it would eventually get easier, and one day it would flow effortlessly.  There is always some challenge in learning something new.  If we avoid everything that is difficult in life, we miss wonderful opportunities that, through our perseverance, will empower us. We all feel more confident when we have successfully overcome a daunting obstacle. 

Both inner and outer strength require practice in life as in dance.  By practicing, we develop experience, find new ways to solve problems, feel more confident, and grow in awareness.  We can’t learn to dance without dancing.  When we choose to develop strength, we are choosing to become an “athlete of God.”

 When have you been an “athlete of God” lately?  How do you practice?

 In 1960 Martha Graham, choreographed a dance called “Acrobats of God” in which she celebrated and made fun of dancers and choreographers.   Look here if you’d like to see a video.   

 © 2011 Georganne Spruce

BODY AND SOUL AS ONE

The Body As Container For The Soul

One of the problems I’ve often had with traditional religion is the way it describes the body as a lesser part of our being.  The body is, after all, the container for our soul.  If we didn’t need it in some cosmic sense, we wouldn’t have it.  At this stage in our spiritual journey, we are experiencing a physical life because we need to learn lessons we can only learn by being in a physical body.

If we embrace the idea of wholeness or oneness, then we have to acknowledge that all parts of ourselves are sacred.  Living in a body offers us infinite opportunities to learn.  As a child, I had many illnesses including one that left me with a heart murmur which I out grew by the time I was twelve.  I missed those early carefree years of life that others remember with joy.  What I remember is lying in bed alone reading and designing paper doll dresses, feeling weak and shy and inadequate when we played softball at school and never learning to ride a bicycle.  I remember having a friend or two but never feeling part of a group because so many group activities were too strenuous.

 Awakening The Body And Soul

As a result of this childhood experience, I developed two interests: good health and creativity which I later developed through dance and writing.  Staying healthy became a priority in my life.  As a young adult I began to search for the answers that would allow me to become stronger and stay in good health.  My love of dance was not just about expressing myself creatively.  It was about building muscles on my skinny frame to become strong.  It was also about the mind/body connection.  Having rejected traditional religion by this time, I found that dancing brought me joy and touched my spirit.  At times, dancing was transcendent, my body seemed to fall away and I was all spirit.

Each physical challenge has been a teacher.  Around 1976, I studied with an amazing dancer, Erick Hawkins during a summer dance program at American University.  Having studied Eastern philosophy and anatomy and kinesiology, he had created a modern dance technique that trained the body gently, working with the pelvis as the center of the body, and teaching us to respect our own bodies.

But that summer, I was in distress, and despite Hawkins’ peaceful way, I made a decision I would regret.  I injured one foot simply walking across campus, adding more pain to the tendinitis slowly healing in the other foot.  I was in a dance company and had a performance coming up.  We were short on dancers; I couldn’t disappoint the director.  So, I demanded that my doctor give me cortisone shots which he did going against his own better judgment.

When I danced, my feet were numb; I couldn’t feel the floor, but somehow I got through the performance.  Afterwards, as I rested and healed over several weeks, I realized I had committed a terrible act of aggression against myself.  I’d somehow crossed a line I’d never crossed before and was willing to abuse myself in order not to disappoint others. This was clearly a signal that something was very wrong with my thinking.  I realized at that moment that I couldn’t stop thinking about the reverence with which Hawkins treated the body even in training.  As I thought about Hawkins and the reverence he had taught us to have for our own bodies, I realized he had been my spiritual teacher that summer.

 Loving Ourselves With Good Health

This experience made me realize that I needed to learn to love myself.  I had created unnecessary suffering and my soul ached. Dance taught me about one aspect of taking care of my body, but other experiences taught me about a healthy diet.  When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I found a doctor of integrated medicine who taught me how to use food and supplements to heal. What I learned from him has continued to serve me well over the years to support my immune system, keep my blood sugar level, and sustain a level of energy that creates a feeling of well-being.

It is difficult to enjoy life when we don’t feel well, and while it is important to take care of our minds and soul, taking care of the body is sacred work too.  To deny the body’s needs is just as detrimental to our well-being as ignoring our spiritual or emotional needs.  Although I am middle aged, I’m actually healthier than I’ve ever been, and I believe that is because, in addition to taking care of my spiritual life, I have cared for my body, this precious container for my precious soul.

 Do you want life to be a dance or a drag?

We have a choice and it’s an important one.  Caring for our bodies makes it possible to do things that feed the soul like walking in the forest, dancing until dawn or jogging through the early morning air with your daughter.  What are you willing to do to make your body and soul one?

© 2011 Georganne Spruce