Now who would put the words gym and soul together? I know I certainly never would… that was until last week.
Last week was the first time I have been to a gym to do weight training in over 20 years. I have been exercising regularly over the past couple of years; cardio, walking, hand weights, stretching, connective tissue exercises, but I hadn’t yet ventured to the gym. The idea of a trip to the gym always seemed ‘a bit too hard’. Not being sure of where to go or what to do, going to the gym went on the ‘some day’ list.
I have been staying with some friends who offered to assist me to get friendly once again with the ins and outs of the gym. I eagerly took up the offer – my ‘some day’ had finally arrived.
I trained regularly at the gym when I was a student at University, doing weights and classes 4 – 5 times a week. At the time I wasn’t aware, but the main focus of going to the gym was to improve my body image and to offer myself relief from feeling the depths of disregard I was living in. Working hard at the gym offered me an opportunity to numb out even more so as not to feel the underlying stress and sadness that was really there in my body that I was choosing to ignore. The gym gave me a momentary high and a relief from feeling where I really was at.
I was a heavy drinker and my diet, well, that was something to be sneezed at. It consisted of fatty foods from the University cafeteria with minimal vegetables apart from lots of potatoes. So to keep me in shape I would spend hours pumping iron, increasing my cardio levels striving for the perfect figure, to feel good about myself, to bury my lack of self-worth and to not feel the pain of how I was living at the time, which included late nights of partying with copious amounts of alcohol, long hours working in pubs and restaurants as well as studying full-time.
I didn’t like myself very much although I would never have admitted it at the time. Going to the gym was a way of pushing my body hard so I wouldn’t have to feel the hurt of the un-dealt with issues that I was still carrying from my childhood.
Fast forward twenty years, I am now, thanks to Universal Medicine and The Way of The Livingness, living my life where I take good care of myself. I go to bed early, I rest when I need to, I eat in a way that supports my body and I no longer drink alcohol, eat sugar or have caffeine. I work on dealing with my issues when they arise rather than burying them and I am open in my relationships. Generally I feel pretty awesome, a far cry from how I felt back in those University days.
I have recently had an inclination that there was more I could be doing to support my body. I had been feeling that I had developed a certain level of connection of my mind being with my body (conscious presence) in my exercise and daily activities, however, at times there was still a sense of this sometimes being a bit soft in my body. I had a sense that weight training may support me in this next stage of development but what I didn’t realise is just HOW supportive this was going to be.
So last week, as I sat on the weights machine for the first time in 20 years, the thought dropped in, “the body is the vehicle to house the soul” and in every ounce of my being I felt that my purpose for being there at the gym was to strengthen my body, knowing full well that my body is not the end result but is a means to access the soul.
There are certain qualities that I have been focusing on over several years such as being gentle and tender, but what I feel has been missing is the power and the strength. My first session at the gym revealed to me the opportunity to deeply connect with feeling the physicality of my body with the machine weights. I connected with my body through feeling every muscle that I worked, choosing to lift them in a way that honored the whole of my body, all the while being aware of breathing gently.
I enjoyed working my muscles, feeling their strength, feeling which muscles lengthened and which ones contracted.
It felt super joyful and powerful to claim my body, not because I wanted to look better but because my purpose was to build a body that has the strength to hold the light of the soul and the light that I innately am. If the soul is love, truth, harmony, stillness and joy – which it is – it cannot reside in a body that does not reflect these qualities.
So it became apparent to me on that day last week at the gym, that we can use the body in two different ways.
We can use the body as a means to give us temporary relief, to make us feel better for a short time to relieve the pain and hurt of what may be undercurrent in our lives most of the time OR we can work with the body to build a body of love, a body that is strong, gentle, tender, precious and powerful, with no holding back so that we can express fully who we are.
My trip to the gym confirmed the latter.
I am now planning to incorporate the gym as part of my weekly routine as a way to deepen my connection with my body in a way that I have been missing, which is building strength so that I can express more fully the inner strength that innately resides within me and equally within us all.
The body is the vehicle to house the soul.
By Donna Gianniotis, Yoga/Meditation, Esoteric Therapies Practitioner, Sydney, Australia