Friday, May 2, 2014

This Body

“To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.


Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.

John F. Kennedy

Today I tried writing, but it didn’t seem to work.  I tried three different topics and each one, while starting out positively, started becoming dark and depressing.  What was happening?  Simple.  I was hungry and a little stressed.  The hunger, while not overwhelming, was present enough to keep me negative.  My stress came from a small disappointment and worrying about unfinished tasks.  While I wasn’t having a full-blown panic attack, I was not in a good place.  Fortunately, I realized what was happening and stopped writing.
I stopped writing?  But isn’t writing my Purpose?  Isn’t writing the thing that has brought healing and much-needed change into my life?  Shouldn’t I have kept going?  No.  Not this time.
First, as I said, I tried three times to write and each attempt started out happily, but then took a dark turn.  Being present in the now does not mean I am always happy, but it does mean I recognize whatever I am feeling and deal with it appropriately.   Yes, writing is part of my Purpose, but, as I’ve said before, the Purpose of Purpose is love.  At that moment I needed to love and take care of myself.  That’s what my writing was telling me.  My Muse was saying what she has said to me many times before, “When you take care of yourself, you take care of me.”
So I stopped writing.  I did a few things I needed to do then I fed myself.  My dark thoughts started disappearing.  I’m writing a more positive blog.  I feel happy again and the things that were worrying me or disappointing me didn’t seem so large. 
Some eastern religions teach that we are supposed to transcend the body.  Even some sects of Christianity believed the body was sinful and their members would scourge themselves with whips or crawl for miles on their knees as an act of worship and penance.  While perhaps well-intentioned, I think this is wrong.  The body is a gift from God.  Like all gifts, it should be treated with respect and care.  It should be fed, rested and allowed to feel pleasurable sensations.  It should be exercised and, it should enjoy normal and healthy pleasures. 
Unfortunately, as with so many things, something that is good, is used incorrectly.  For some normal hunger becomes gluttony.  Some people don’t rest enough or exercise. Pleasures become excess and perversions.  This is why the body is often treated as an enemy by some.  But it’s not the body that gets us into trouble; it’s the mind that doesn’t discipline itself or the body.
Discipline is not punishment.  I don’t need to whip myself.   In fact, I need to do the opposite.  I need to take care of myself.  I need to feed and hydrate myself.  I need to rest and exercise and enjoy the pleasures life has to offer, without taking them to excess.
Saint Paul said the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  If God lives inside of me, I want Him to have a nice place to stay.
This all may seem very obvious, but the body, the mind, the soul and the heart are all connected.  Sometimes giving full attention to one can bring healing to the others, but most of the time, they each need to be tended carefully.  That’s why I pray.  That’s why I love others and enter into healthy relationships.  That’s why I study and write.  And that’s why I eat and drink and rest and exercise.  In fact, I’m going to do something physical when I’m done writing this blog.
I feel really good now and I’m going to keep that feeling as long as I can.  I believe that happiness and joy are our natural states, but that we have to discipline ourselves to get there and stay there.  Happiness is often a message to us, that something isn’t right.  That may seem obvious, but often the thing we’re unhappy about isn’t really the thing that is making us unhappy.  There’s often something more.  Perhaps the first thing we should look at is ourselves, our literal selves, our bodies.  I want to take care of my body, not only to live longer, but also to live better and to live more happily and productively.  I want to be able to Get Started and Keep Going…for as long as I have this body.