God lent retreats

Spiritual Pilates, Strengthening our Spiritual Core

Just about five years ago, while visiting my parents in Kansas City, I fell down the stairs. Carrying two drinking glasses, in socked feet, I made the split second decision that saving the drink ware was the priority, and landed square on my back. And I slid down a few steps, until my feet were resting on the first floor.

This was one of those moments where I knew I’d really screwed up. Things were all out of whack. Lots of good expletives come to mind, and I was keenly aware that everyone else in the house was sleeping, so I couldn’t use a single one of them. Instead, I walked into the kitchen and swore at Linda, our 30 year old Blue Fronted Amazon parrot. I like to think she kind of understood. In her own way.

This injury led me down the road of specialists, physical therapy, and spending a good deal of money. If nothing else, it quickly became apparent that if in the future I ever had to choose between the $14 worth of glasses or my own back, well the better choice is to drop the glasses. The prognosis was an anular tear in L4/L5. What that means is that it would heal, but the healing would take time.

In physical therapy, I started Pilates. Pilates involves strengthening core muscles, so that your body supports itself better. Instead of just letting your muscles hang on your bones, your muscles learn to be engaged, and carry the weight. So, instead of being “flabby, fat, and lazy,” I started working on “abs of steel.” It was fascinating.

This fall ended up teaching me a lot.
– Often times, I go through life, too busy to pay attention to common sense, and I find myself over extended.
– It’s only in becoming injured, or burning myself out, that I first realized that I needed to relearn the way things should work.
– Once injured, I had to schedule things like physical therapy, so that I could return my body to its original, working physical state.
– Doing something like pilates can hurt a whole lot, and it sure feels like a sacrifice to have to get up early to get to the therapy sessions.
– Such a silly injury can made me wonder how I ever got so far off the path of basic physical fitness.
– I realized quickly that specialists make a world of difference, and learned to appreciate the kind and motivating work of good physical therapists.
– Once I had retrained my muscles and recovered, it would be wise to continue my regime by regularly working out.

I find that this is often so similar to our spiritual journey. That this external learning has deep rooted Spiritual resonance. Let’s take another look:

– Don’t we get side tracked by our ego, being drawn to the rewards of this life and the material world? It’s easy to forget our original spiritual nature and become over extended at work, or with engagements that do not resonate with our authentic calling. We are often too busy to pay attention to our Spiritual fitness.
– Once the material and ego centric parts of our lives are no longer interesting or fulfilling, we find ourselves burnt out, spiritually “injured” and looking for “something more” to fill the void that in our life.
– If we are lucky, this spiritual injury or sense of unfulfillment leads us to look for our passions, or leads us to recall what we once felt a great love for. We begin to look for Source and hopefully begin to return to our spiritual center.
-Sometimes this return to our spiritual core can be painful; many of the great spiritual leaders like Paul, Saint Francis, Moses, and Jesus had many trials on the way to strengthening their spiritual core. There is much sacrifice on the journey for each of us as we make sense of what is of this world, and what is of the world of the Spirit.
– When looking for the right path on our spiritual journey, we often run into painful moments. We often wrestle with our own shortcomings, letting go of perceived past hurts in this life, of forgiving those who have hurt us and those we have hurt. Finding the spiritual path is not easy, and we often make sacrifices in realizing and following our Spiritual core.
– Sometimes silly little things remind us of our authentic self, and point out how absurd the ego and its greedy ways can be. We wonder how our ego ever led us so far off the path.
– It is always helpful to have spiritual direction when looking for the right path. We learn to recognize great leaders and teachers, of both past and present to use as examples of how to strengthen our Spiritual core.
– Once you have found our Spiritual core, we should remain active in our faith and beliefs. A true Spiritual core is strengthened and remains strong with regular use and exercise.

How have you strengthened your Spiritual Core?

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  • Liz
    March 5, 2009 at 3:24 am

    I am sorry to hear all that you went through with your back. Next time just let them glasses break! I enjoyed your points on Spiritual Core.

  • Katherine E.
    March 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Wow. I love this post.

    Paula, would it be okay for me to use it in my class in the Fall? I’ll cite your blog, of course.

  • Chris
    March 7, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I enjoyed this post and learned from it. I’ll think more about ‘strengthening the core’ in my spiritual life. Great image. Peace to you.

    (And thanks for visiting my site.)

  • vineeta
    March 7, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Its so true what you say, we are so far gone before we realise which tree we are barking up at & how not for us it is. These realisations are painful & for me each time it takes courage to choose what I really love to do versus what is safe to do. And like your incidence where you took the fall, we take falls in so many ways & end up seeing the real extent of damage…
    For me these days, I’m learning to slow down & really observe myself. And hopefully in your words ‘strengthening my spiritual core’
    I really like your blog & what you do here

  • Holly
    August 15, 2009 at 7:23 am

    What a great post! I definitely learned from it.

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!! Have a blessed weekend!