Accept the spiritual fitness challenge
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on June 20, 2017
You can be spiritually sick, or you can be spiritually fit.
It’s your choice.
You are spiritually sick if you feel isolated, like an oddity in this world. You are resentful and bitter due to your life experiences and current circumstances. You are a stranger to yourself.
You are spiritually fit if you have limitless capacity to give and receive love. You know no strangers because every being offers a unique reflection of yourself, and you see yourself in every grain of sand. Hate is not usual in your makeup, nor is resentment, anger or bitterness. When these emotions do surface, you spot them quickly, observe and defuse. You are continually reminded of your oneness with the universe, and every day offers an abundance of synchronicities you no longer dismiss as coincidences.
This way of living isn’t a fantasy. Step to the Jnana, Raja, Bhakti and Karma path.
The Spiritual Fitness 30-Day Challenge
On day one of your challenge, commit to a 30-minute study time prior to meditation. Choose a small portion of a text. It doesn’t have to be directly spiritual or religious. I recommend The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson; Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake; Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman; The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson; Cather in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Spend the bulk of your study time ruminating or even journaling about what you read. Reflect on your relationship to the world and to all of your assumptions as to what’s real. For the next 30 days, each morning, delve into this text and into yourself.
After your 30-minute study time, begin your meditative practice. Synchronize with the universe.
Start with the basics. Choose a focal point outside the body: a candle, a mandala, your reflection. Hold your gaze without blinking, and, when you must close your eyes, hold the image in your mind. Download a meditation timer, and aim for five minutes on the first day of the challenge. Add a minute per day.
Accept your mind will wander. Get to know your mental gremlins and the moods and emotions and memories distracting you. They are your friends and Know Thyself tools, so don’t be mean.
It’s time to stop saying you love people and to start being love. There are three Bhakti tasks for each day.
- Practice gratitude and send a thank-you note or email every day. Expect nothing in return.
- Conduct a grudge inventory. Make a list of people who have harmed you and people who annoy you. Stand in front of the mirror, and speak as if you are that person and really listen. Understand rather than forgive, and know it will take a few shots to get this one right.
- Stop talking crap. Coach, don’t criticize. Talk about what you support rather than what you’re against. You are what comes out of your mouth.
The more you have, the more in debt you are.
Every night, before you sleep, hold plank pose. Start with 30 seconds, adding on a few more seconds each of your 30 days. While holding plank, ask, “How did I serve today?”
After plank, mentally or in that journal, tally your successes. Your successes are not what you earned for yourself but how you empowered other people.
Ponder how you lived the day with mindfulness and embraced the Yamas: You did no harm. You were truthful and kind. You didn’t steal what rightly belonged to another. You practiced restraint and discipline. You grasped everything lightly.
Now sleep, and embrace the challenge the next day.