There has been plenty written about the link between your physical fitness and your emotional well-being. In short, regular exercise promotes the release of endorphins, the celebrated ‘happy drug’ released by the body. These lift our moods and make us feel better, giving credence to the maxim ‘a happy body makes a happy mind’. However, there is less resource material available about the effects of exercise on our spiritual health. In many spiritual beliefs, the mind, body and soul are inextricably linked and what affects one must affect the others, whether it is positively or negatively. So, can your level of physical fitness impact upon your spiritual health?
The Trinity of the Self
The majority of credible belief systems agree that there must be a balance between mind, body and soul. If one aspect of your being is overlooked, it will have an effect on the others and create a domino effect, resulting in physical, spiritual or emotional malaise. It is believed by many that our conscious and physical selves are an extension of our spiritual selves; that our minds and bodies are inextricably linked to our psychic core. However, if you undertake regular exercise and look after your body, there will be an inward ripple effect, first lifting your mood and then communicating itself to your subconscious.
Smokers often find themselves plagued by negative thoughts. Many of these thoughts focus on how stupid they feel in having that next cigarette, while others focus on the eventual consequences of smoking. While it may seem entirely natural, there is something else at work: the thoughts and panicky feelings that beset smokers are the result of a stressed subconscious. It communicates its anxiety through fearful images and feelings, leading the smoker to damn themselves every time they open up a packet.
However, there is more to consider. While the subconscious is fretting and making itself known, it is burning up valuable resources that could be put to better use, such as improving psychic abilities or generating positive thoughts. What you put into your body can have a profound effect on the way you interact with those around you, which is why birds of a feather flock together; people with addictions or a propensity to excess are stunting their spiritual evolution and feel more comfortable around those in a similar position.
Using exercise as a spiritual tool
Buddhism promotes physical exercise as part of the path towards spiritual nirvana. The Tarot reminds us that we must seek to balance all of the aspects of our being. For many belief systems, the mind, body and soul are not separate - they are simply different aspects of our existence. Yoga combines spiritual, physical and mental challenges to attain inner peace.
Simple meditation has been used for centuries to achieve harmony and there are even those who use gardening as a tool through which to attain a state of peace. Exercise is an important way to strengthening your psychic powers, as is your diet. Many belief systems eschew meat in favour of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are known to have restorative effects on the body and keep you looking younger. However, good, simple and fresh foods also have a pronounced effect on your mood. Foods that contain B vitamins, found in nuts and pulses, and those that contain serotonin, such as bananas, have been found to lift your mood, increasing levels of happiness and contentment. If your body feels good, your mind follows suit and your soul feels lighter. Whilst you are nourishing your body and flooding your system with antioxidants, you are also nourishing your spiritual aspect.
Creating opportunities with physical fitness
Maintaining your spiritual health is a three-fold process, focusing on your mind, body and soul. In simple terms, the healthier you are, in physical terms, the less your subconscious will focus on the potential for illness Instead of looking inwards, your psychic powers will be broadcast in a positive light, attracting like-minded people and creating opportunities through which you can expand your spiritual awareness. A good programme of spiritual development will pay attention to each of the aspects of our existence in equal measure and include physical exercise, a good diet, positive mental stimulation and regular meditation; all three aspects of our being are worked and nurtured and the results are obvious in both our attitude and our appearance.
However, just as positive thoughts, feelings and action can have a physical, restorative effect, the reverse is also true. Those who are unhappy on a spiritual level will find that their thoughts follow negative patterns and they become physically apathetic, leading to an unhealthy appearance. Those who are apathetic and unhealthy will have a stunted spiritual outlook. It is perhaps easier to see the link between mind, body and soul here: if your body is unhealthy, you feel bad and if you feel bad, you tend to make the wrong decisions in life.
Take your psychic temperature
This can become a vicious circle, creating patterns of negative behaviour on every level of our existence and even result in physical illness. Yet, it is possible to break this cycle – although it might take some work. The newspapers often feature stories about people who were in a poor state of fitness before making a committed effort to exercise or lose weight. In the majority of these stories, the person involved makes a statement saying how much more positive they feel about themselves and how their lives have changed for the better. This isn’t simply a case of being glad that you can do up the belt on your trousers; it’s indicative of a weight (quite literally) being lifted from your subconscious, leaving it free to interact with the world in the way it was designed to.
Your physical health is a good barometer of both your emotional and spiritual health. Taking the time to consider your diet and implement a programme of exercise can have far deeper-reaching benefits than simply making you look good. It can impact on your psychic health, giving you the mental and spiritual freedom to make new connections with the world around you and encourage you to address the world on your own terms.