I've been pondering this quote off and on for many years now.
"Wherever you live is your temple if you treat it like one."
I took this thought very seriously once, when I lost my health in 1994. My body was no longer a temple. An ailing prison was more like it.
As a result, I spent an entire year refurbishing my body temple—mind, body and spirit. I cleansed and reorganized my mind, nurtured and exercised my body, and unleashed my spirit. It was "my" year. I reclaimed the sacredness of my body. It was also the year I fell in love with the notion of "God" as I have come to understand it.
Since that crisis/opportunity year, I have been the most faithful of "worshipers," engaging in the practice of extreme self-care. I have become extra kind to myself. Gentle. Loving. Nurturing. On all levels—body, mind, spirit.
And, yet, I've also struggled down one final avenue of temple honoring—exercise.
For most of my adult life I practiced yoga. To me, it offered the perfect balance of body/mind/spirit attention. I found it in college (1973), did it through 3 pregnancies, and on into my late 40s. I stopped when my temple suffered various injuries (3 bouts of torn rotator cuff, for one). I tried to regroup, once the injuries healed, but the practice was not to my satisfaction. I vowed to walk regularly. I did so, faithfully, until we moved to a location where walking was less than desirable (unless I drove somewhere special). I know, excuses ...
Then, in 2003, I experienced a closed head injury and everything changed. I could not move fast. I could not do inverted exercise. I still can't. So the challenge these days is to find a way to "move" and honor my body temple without it creating dizziness, nausea, and more.
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of leading a day retreat on "Reclaiming Our Bodies as Sacred." 27 women re-committed to their bodies in various ways. Here is some of what we talked about:
~Befriending our bodies; treating them more kindly, gently
~Healing our body through the practice of blessing and appreciation
~Dropping back into our body through the senses so that we can experience the Sacred
~Allowing our various body parts to express the Sacred out into the world (through our hands, feet,
~Letting go of anything that does not speak to the soul of our body, esp. childhood messages~Honoring our body's wisdom and trusting it.
What we did not cover as well as I'd liked (after all, we only had 6 hrs. to do all this!) was eating mindfully and moving our body for well-being and longevity.
Thankfully, I am very good to my body when it comes to eating healthfully. I am a vegetarian, and have been for 10 years. I eat very little processed food and eat organic. I cook from scratch. I rarely eat out. And my body loves me for it!
So when I look at the temple furnishings inventoried above, I believe I am a pretty good housekeeper. Except for one thing—movement. That's my growing edge ... and I do vow to embrace it.
"The Year of the Body." I will reclaim a form of "fitness" that will serve me well ... and my body temple, too. Enough creaking, aching, and groaning already. I hear you!
It's good to remember that this journey to reclaiming our body as sacred is not for the purpose of societal expectations (to be thin) or to fulfill media standards (to be beautiful or youthful). It is to honor our body and affirm —with mindset and habits—that we are sacred beings.
And that we are worth the time, attention, energy, and financial expenditure it takes to be happy and well. To walk a more holistic path in life, one filled with conscious choices, so that we can finally heal the rift between body, mind, and spirit—thereby, reclaiming ourselves as "holy" and whole human beings.
Whew! That sounds like a big journey—and it is. But every great journey begins with small steps, one choice, then another. Baby steps I call them.
So, how about you?
What is your "growing edge" when it comes to treating your body like a temple? And how are you willing to make that temple glow and thrive?
I'd love to hear ...
I told the retreat participants I would post some of my favorite resources which support the reclaiming of our bodies as sacred. Here's the list:
God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice by Jay Michaelson
Divining the Body: Reclaim the Holiness of Your Physical Self by Jan Phillips
Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing by Christiane Northrup, MD
Healing Mind, Healthy Woman: Using the Mind-Body Connection to Manage Stress and Take Control of Your Life by Alice Domar, MD
Praying with the Body by Jane Venard
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
Skylight Paths publishing offers many titles on embodied spiritual practice, such as Dance, the Sacred Art and Running the Sacred Art.
And, of course, two of the books I authored, Coming Home to Ourselves and Your Truest Self have chapters on reclaiming the sacredness of your physical self. :-
(Body image courtesy of www.flickr.com)