The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action. Religion has nothing to do with compas; it is our love for God that is the main thing because we have all been created for the sole purpose to love and be loved.
-Mother Teresa, For the Love of God
Riches You Will Gain from This Chapter
·A decision to follow a spiritual path
·A commitment to heal your life through Spiritual Fitness
·A decision about where, if, and how religion has a place in your life
·An assessment of your current spiritual life
·The beginning of your daily practice
·A "brain map" of a past spiritual experience
·The discovery of the master plan for your life
·A belief in the master plan
·An assessment of your relationship to others, and to yourself, your body, your work, and your possessions
MY JOURNEY BEGAN THE day I knew that my spirit had touched someone hundreds of miles away with healand my journey toward Spiritual Fitness had begun. At the age of twenty-one, my life was proand permanently changed. It was my ?rst year as a special education teacher of learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, and hyperactive children. I had ?fteen children ranging in age from six to twelve relyon me to break through their disabilities, to spark comprehension of all their academic subjects. No one had told me it could not be done and so in my enernaivete, I took on the task and began to learn the meaning of stress. When the mother of one of my stusuggested that I might bene?t from a stress management class, I accepted her advice. She was a bit mysterious about the content of the class, only saying it had changed her life and might do the same for me. She had come to learn the meaning of stress trying to meet the demands of her charming, but severely readdisabled son.
I arrived early that Saturday morning for the stress management course in jeans and a long-sleeved lavensweater, sipping coffee through a straw, prepared to spend the next two days learning to relax. What hapwas another story with a much more moving and universal ending.
The class, which took place over the course of two full weekends, was based on the work of Jose Silva. Silva knew that when a person becomes calm, the brain waves indicate profound relaxation, allowing for greater use of their potential. He discovered that we could project our thoughts like a radar signal, gathering and delivering information that was norunavailable to the conscious mind.
At first, we learned basic relaxation techniques and how to ask our minds to create dreams during the sleep state in order to solve problems. We accessed parts of the brain that would help to locate lost objects, and we learned to change our body temperatures. The body temperature exercise is the same one that is used when patients use biofeedback to medically treat health conBiofeedback gives information about the body, such as temperature or brain wave activity to assist in knowing when the body is tense or relaxed.
In the second weekend, we learned to send our awareto plants, objects, and animals in order to effecpray for them. We gathered diagnostic informaabout their problems for the purpose of sending them healing energy and prayers. And if learning how to effectively pray was not enough, on the last afternoon of the last day of the last weekend of the program, we preto send our consciousness to the human body.
We studied diagrams of the skeletal system, the muscusystem, the respiratory system, and the organs, with the intention of making it easier to visualize them and to render a healing to someone in need. We invited the healing by placing our focus directly on God or divine intelligence and allowing that intelligence to create changes in others' health. We allowed ourselves to be vessels for their healing by God.
We were then paired with a partner whom we did not know. Mine was a quiet man about twenty years my senior with salt-and-pepper hair. He wanted me to work on his mother as a case. As instructed, he told me only his mother's name, age, and city of origin. I went into meditation and there she was, on the mental screen of my mind. Rachel had short, curly gray hair and a wide mid-section. The veins in her legs were bulging and disand her heart was enlarged. I knew that her weight was causing problems with her heart and legs and I even saw a lock on the refrigerator. I then prayed for her healing. When I came back to wakefulness after the meditation, I learned from Rachel's son that everything I had seen had been true. He had even told her that he would put a lock on the refrigerator to keep her from overeating. In that moment, I knew that conhas the freedom to move about, that our spirits are real and exist separate from our bodies, that they last eternally, and that we can send our spirits to heal and do good work.
I had been so profoundly impacted by that life-changing moment that I recognized the existence of God in a whole new way. It was then that the path to Spiritual Fitness began. I began to learn how I could use my mind to change my limiting beliefs, heal old wounds, and help others to do the same. I hope that you will join me on the path, as we discover many difways to reach the closest and most profound connection with your spirit, and God, possible.
DECIDING TO FOLLOW A SPIRITUAL PATHFor the sake of the people, for the sake of the planet, for the sake of the empowering presence of God in an increasingly godless world, we must search for God with all the new lights we have.
-Marcus Borg and Ross Mackenzie, God at 2000MY JOURNEY BEGAN AT that stress management workwhen I learned that my spirit and good intentions could be used to tap into spiritual healing abilities, and profoundly and permanently changed my life. Our spirit, our soul, is the energy that feeds our hearts, minds, and bodies. Yet so many people are experiencing a poverty of health, love, clear thinking, and spiritual understanding that they are reading every self-help book they can ?nd. Peter Russell reminds us that from the moment of our birth, our culture falsely encourus to believe that outer well-being is the source of inner ful?llment (Waking Up in Time, 1992). While readare devouring books on how to be beautiful and lose weight, how to manage their relationships, how to heal their hurts, raise their IQs and get promotions, they are "how-to-ing" themselves into debt. But few are getting the outcomes they so desperately desire. It is time to consider that the need is not to work harder, but to work differently. If you have any doubt that SpirFitness is needed in your life, look at what you have accomplished without it. Is it everything you had hoped? If not, then strengthen your agreement with yourself to follow this path, now.
Why not become spiritually fit? Becoming spiritufit does not mean that you should abandon your goals for personal achievement, health, wealth, or well being. It merely means that by putting your spirit ?rst, all other things can be accomplished and mainThe accomplishment of the goals is then comin harmony with what is best for you and othand not at the expense of what is best.
Alternatives to Spiritual Fitness have produced a multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry, yet Ameribody images suffer from continued comparison to society's accepted norms of fashion models' appearPeople are discouraged, overweight, anorexic, and bulimic. Working from the outside in has not made the desperately desired difference.
In most lives, there is a sense of striving, of longing for something, a sense of incompleteness. People try to ?ll the need with relationships, money, sex, power, busyness, business, chaos, confusion, clutter, food, alcohol, drugs, or any other addiction that makes the longing go away for a brief time. This tail-chasing is often like running around in the circle surrounding a hole in order to avoid falling in the hole. Sometimes we are avoiding what we might find by going deeper into ourselves.
How about starting at the very inner core, with your spirit, to become ?t? Learning how to feel the fullness of your own spirit, rather than stifle it by society's proabout who you should be, may end the hunger by filling it with inner peace. Peace does not separate us from our goals, but allows us to get in touch with who we truly are, and to attain our goals in a way that is right for us. Peace allows us to heal and become empowered in a true sense. Spiritual Fitness can guide you toward a fulfilling, enriching life for the duration, not just while you break an addiction, do aerobics, spice up a love life, or heal a broken heart.
When we truly find our connection with our spirit, we might not be completely cured of our need to run and hide, and our lives will certainly not be perfect, but we will be well on our way to working through and understanding what we are running from, and what other possibilities exist. It is kind of like polishing the facets of a diamond. The more we work at it, the more facets we have and the more brightly we can shine. The more we recognize our spirituality, the more we polish our facets. Our connection with our spirit is the only thing we can never lose. It already exists, waiting for us to discover it.
Often, our longing for things is unconsciously conwith the longing to be closer to our own spirituBy beginning to follow our spiritual purpose, we begin to release the incompleteness we feel and the need for substitutions subsides. Once this gap is filled with our sense of spirit, a sense of inner peace takes over, replacing the need to fill what used to be a void. We are then on the spiritual path, so to speak.
In examining your longing, part of you may be ask"What is my life or soul purpose in being here?" and, "How do I fulfill that purpose?" These are imporquestions and the search for answers generally moves us in the right direction-toward the discovery of our life plan. While there may be a sense of frustrathat comes from longing in a personal sense, each step that your awakened spirit takes on the path moves you further toward the fulfillment of your purFollow your instincts, for they are what brought you to this book.
Many spiritual paths can lead to Spiritual Fitness. In order to achieve it, begin with the truth that there is a God. Many people, because of negative past experience, do not even like the use of the word "God." They may feel that the word "God" represents an elusive being or a patriarchal monarch. Do not get caught up in termiWe are talking about the spiritual life force of which you are a part. You may choose to use a new term to describe the infinite deity. Master, divine master, uniintelligence, or some other terminology may be needed for you to reframe a previously negative concept of a God.
It is good to stand on as many sides of God as you can, to see God through the eyes of Moses and Abrathe Dalai Lama, Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda, Mohammed, Confucius, and any others you feel attracted to examine. Religion is a path to spiritual transformation. All religious paths lead to the same central point, but because they all come from differdirections, the scenery differs. Each describes the view of God as it appears from their road map, much like travelers coming from around the world. Each description of the path is a reflection of the places each different traveler passes through on the way to some final destination. This is evident in the meditapractice of each religion. While the techniques differ, we all end up at the same center of silence and communication with God. Each provides a glimpse into the truth; each is a finger that points the way to the truth while none holds the entire truth. As you deepen your look at God through the various paths, you may experience greatly desired changes.
I share my own personal experiences, which prome with knowledge and verification about the existence of God. I reveal a path through which you can find your own reality or presence of God, and put your own life on the path to self-fulfillment. You may already be aware that a God exists, and you may have a great deal of faith, either generally or as a member of an organized religion. It is important to recognize whether these beliefs are assisting your understanding of God or hindering it. Retain what helps, and let hinfall away. In either case, Spiritual Fitness will enrich your present vision.
In this knowing of the existence of God, we have a great understanding of ourselves that goes beyond our ability to be happy through the healing of our minds, bodies, or emotions in isolation. For example, a surgery may eliminate a physical growth, but will not change the relationship that we have with our bodies. In the long run, changing that relationship would enable us to better maintain our health and well being. If obtainSpiritual Fitness does not improve physical health, then it will improve your awareness and understanding of health problems which will certainly create changes in how you take care of your physical self. Our minds, bodies, and emotions are the tools through which our spiritual understanding fliows.
Exercise: Making a Commitment
Goal: Making a conscious commitment to heal your life through Spiritual Fitness.
If you are ready, now would be a good time to make your commitment to the spiritual path. Once you have done so, it is time to move on to examine your past experience and decide what you will keep on your path to Spiritual Fitness.
1. Say to yourself that you are committed.
2. Make your positive affirmation of commitment in your journal. Make today your first entry. Write down your thoughts on the decision you have made, and move on to the first exploration on the path.