Monthly Archives: July 2013

Food for The Soul

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Food for Thought, Food for the Body and Food for the Soul

 

We all walk a spiritual path as we are all spirit. We are spirit energy in a body. As human spirits we grow by learning. I am constantly learning new things. I like learning it brings new ideas and perspectives to my life.

I do not have all of the answers to life or spirituality for I am always learning new things from many people. I do not believe anyone has all of the answers to anything. There are people who say they have all of the answers and maybe they do for a short while. Life changes and it moves on and is in a constant state of flux. So are we.

When we learn something new we change. We replace old ideas with new ones or we may reinforce old ideas. Either way we are in a win situation with the new knowledge. As knew knowledge equals change to us on some level.

Today we will have a set of thoughts, ideas and understandings and tomorrow they will be different in some way. I am not saying that we do not have a responsibility for the things that we think do or say. I am saying that we will think do and say something no matter what that is and in time will change those understandings and actions as we live and develop. Change means development of us and our lives. We change from the moment that we are born and in fact if we think about it we changed even in the womb. We change in many ways throughout our life. We change physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. We are not static beings.

From the moment we enter this world we are in for change. Life will change around us whether we wish for it or not. We can resist change but that is futile as change will happen never the less. All things change. The seasons change, day changes into night, the weather changes. Everything changes.

People too change, before our very eyes. They physically change day by day. Nothing about people is set in stone at all. Life seems to be static but it is not.  Change is built into life at all levels. There is wisdom in slow change. Slow change gives ourselves and life time to decide is this a good change and do we need to keep it or change it for something else. It offers us a choice as we move towards the conclusion of the new change. It offers us and life time to understand and assess that change.

Physical change to our body is inevitable and we all know that our body is designed to break down. We can slow things down a little with good food and plenty of sleep and some effective creams and potions. However even with all of that our body will degenerate. Life will move forward and we will bend to its influence. Our body is designed for slow change and the ravages of time.

But what of our soul, how do we keep that in good condition?  And what is a spiritual path? We can develop our soul in the same way we can develop our body. We can condition our soul. To have a healthy body we need to give it good things to work with, such as good food, rest and exercise. To have an active and effective mind we need to give it food for thought. It needs input and stimulation.  The soul needs the same too. It too needs food, rest and exercise.

What is food for the soul? Life is food for the soul as it helps the soul to develop. It does not matter what we do as long as we interact with life. When we interact with life we give the soul its sustenance. Good or bad, happy or sad the soul will thrive on what we give it. It will change and develop in one way or the other. The change that occurs in each of us adds to life. It adds knowledge to the wider universe. It causes us to move forward into life.

We are all part of life and life part of us. So therefore we are all important to life and life to us. From time to time it may be that we may feel insignificant and unimportant. We are just a single person in this huge world of ours. Perhaps there are some moments of despair.

These moments are part of the catalyst for our change and growth. When we reach rock bottom in any situation or interaction often it causes us to find a solution and resolve the misery. It causes us to look, listen and learn so that we may move forward. Despair can lead to change. We are required to look at the situation and our life, the path that led us to the situation, to listen to our inner voice for the truth of the situation and learn from the experience.

Despair forces our hand to give in or grow through movement. In despair we look for the solution that will take us out of the situation. Movement of any sort equals growth to the person. Even negative movement equals growth in time. Negative movement equals more pain and misery which in turn is a further learning to the person. All of life and life’s interactions facilitate growth to the soul.

Meditation, sleep and quiet contemplation are rest for the soul.  Exercise for the soul comes by way of all of the interactions that stretch the soul to grow. On all levels of our being we grow through the interactions with life and the things we put into our being.

We need food for thought, food for the body and food for the soul. Life Nourishes the flame within.

 

The Mind- Body Connection

We are aware of the mind- body connection- the idea that the thoughts of the mind influence the body and that the actions of the body influence the mind.  This manifests itself in the mental alertness we feel after a great workout or the calm wakefulness we may experience during and after meditation.

I came to martial arts seeking the adrenaline high and physical conditioning that comes from hard physical effort.  As a teenager it was a fantastic way to release pent- up energy and stay in shape.  I loved it and would walk away from a session full of enthusiasm and excitement.  As the years of training passed, the physical workouts began to fill me with a feeling of calm power- there was the same physical intensity, but there was an additional dimension I became aware of that really began to shift the way I experienced and perceived martial arts and the manner in which it affected me.

I believe that martial arts offer a unique combination of mind- body training that seeks to bring these two elements into balance.  Once this equilibrium is achieved tranquillity begins to emerge that allows us to become aware of a connection to Self- a spiritual quality that is beyond the mental and the physical.  It manifests itself in calmness and power, in directness, agility and stillness that is both physical and mental at the same time.  A connection to Self emerges that brings us into connection to all things.

The Masters of Japan, India and China spoke about this dimension of martial arts at length as if it was the true purpose of the training- a far cry from the macho mixed martial arts that we see today so prevalently across the world.  I will talk about this in a later blog.  They believed that the body housed the spiritual energy of the person and that the body had to be in good condition to be able to allow that energy the freedom it required to express and manifest itself in the world.  I will discuss that in a later blog also.

For now, we are discussing how martial arts do not simply excite the body and the mind.  They also stimulate the spiritual energy of the person.  As a student’s technical ability increases their body follows the natural energy lines that promote greater relaxation, power and accuracy.  Projection of spiritual energy begins to become greater and more focussed as their awareness becomes more honed.  They become more connected to the environment and people around them and their health benefits not just from physical excerption but also from the healthy flow of energy.  Martial arts can simply be a vehicle for greater spiritual connection (by which I mean to feel and understand the energy that flows within and around us all and connects us to everyone and everything).  Martial arts are unique because of the training format and the surface level benefits such as physical fitness, ability to defend oneself and others and the resultant confidence that comes from that.  Hidden behind that veil lies the true power of the life arts of a warrior.

Please do not be put off by this image as life is full of joy and hardship.  Only through this spiritual connection can we hope to remain centred and whole.  Martial arts teach us that we have the power to harness spiritual energy and direct it to do good in the world.  It also teaches us how to protect ourselves and others and to be able to live lives of peace and compassion.  Connection comes through awareness of the energy that links us to all which means we have the strength to walk through life with peaceful steps.  Compassion has many faces- to be tough when we need to be, to be soft when required but always with a sense of compassion and love.  Our actions emerge from spiritual energy that we hone and cultivate from the minute we begin our martial arts training.  Whether we realise it or not, we are after all is said and done, spiritual beings.

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A Journey into Consciousness

 

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Where does your attention lie? Where do you focus your awareness?  Where do you direct the energy of your mind? Three questions posing a similar line of enquiry….. Wherever we place our focus determines our reality.  If we are attentive to thoughts of fear, doubt or jealousy our reality becomes contracted. If we think of love, compassion and peace our reality becomes expansive. The more our thoughts expand our awareness the more connected we become to life and its magic and wonder. My early life was consumed by fear and I am striving to fill my latter years with love and joy.

I was born to my parents at a time when their relationship was on the rocks. It has been said in the family that having me was an attempt to bring them closer together again.  Needless to say I had no such power. They separated when I was about a year old and my parents both retreated into themselves to lick their wounds and find ways to move on.  They did the best they knew how and I am grateful for that- but without words, for I was too young to understand them, their actions and thoughts taught me lessons that I would take into later life that made it difficult to trust and share, say truly how I feel and have the strength to authentically express myself and stand up for what I believed in and wanted for my life.  I felt truly alone in the world.  I learnt that loneliness was preferable as it helped me avoid pain.

When Yoda appeared in the Star Wars movies in the 1970s, I knew I had to meet a person like that- a mentor, teacher and spiritual guide.  I met such a man in my late teens who showed me a different way- that we have to open up to life and in doing so life’s gifts and magic enter us.  We close down to avoid pain, but when we close down, we close down to everything.  We cannot be selective.  If we are open, we are open to life’s joy and pain- we just have to be strong enough to deal with both, be open to both and learn from both.  It is hard, but it is by far the most fulfilling path.  We see the best of our self and of others and only very occasionally do we see the worst.

If we trust, we open our self to life and begin to live life fully in spite of our imperfections and the imperfections of others. We remove the barriers that we try to put in place to hide our self for fear of exposure, unburdening our self and becoming freer. We are all imperfect and that is as it should be. It gives us a reason to grow.  The sooner we accept this truth, the sooner we can go about living fully and removing the barriers we have put in place that mask us from a spiritual connection to life itself.

This spiritual connection is a link with the Consciousness of the universe, what the Chinese refer to as Tao or Chi, the Indians call Prana or Brahman and what world religions call God. In Nourish the Flame Within we discuss the idea that all things are energy whose source is this Consciousness, simply vibrating at different frequencies, which manifests in different forms, from gases to solids, from hot to cold, from inanimate to animate.

Different thoughts also vibrate at different frequencies. In her incredible workshops, Love and Above, Christie Marie Sheldon discusses how thoughts of fear and worry have low vibrations while thoughts of love and compassion have high vibrations. Consciousness is the highest vibration and it is our source. Spiritually, we are trying to return to this source in a vibrational sense. In other words, if we can cultivate thoughts of love, compassion and sharing, we begin to change vibrationally. If we can shift our thinking away from fear and contraction towards love and expansion, we are moving towards a vibration of perfection or Consciousness. The health, relationship and spiritual implications of this are nothing short of astounding.

As we develop through life, make stronger our connections with life itself, cultivate relationships with people, animals and places, harness our passions and put into practice the things that truly make us tick, we walk the path of our spiritual growth and increase our vibration. The closer to Consciousness we get the more at peace we feel, the more connected and related we are and the more empowered we become. We become aware that we are living Consciousness.

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Lynette Avis and David Brown are the authors of Nourish the Flame Within- a guide to connecting to the human soul for Reiki, Martial Arts and Life.  You can read more about our background and interests on the “About the Authors” link at the top of the page.  If you feel moved to do so please take a few minutes to leave a comment on this article- we are always happy to discuss the topics about which we feel so passionate.  You can also join us on the Nourish the Flame Twitter account at https://twitter.com/AvisandBrown and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LynetteAvisandDavidBrown .  We look forward to hearing from you.