I’ve always been fascinated with the culture of the orient and the Far East, and once I finally got the chance to visit it, my life got turned completely around in just a few months. There’s a certain aspect of spiritual health that the easterners possess that you don’t see in the west all too often—almost a keen, radiating sense of calm that most people (but not all of them, of course) tend to exhibit.
At first I thought it was just my imagination, but when I talked to some of them about it, I found that most of them completely agreed with me. On the other hand, they were also fascinated by western culture and particularly how free-spirited and energetic westerners tend to be.
But even they had to agree with me that people from the west seem to be a bit deficient in the spiritual sense, for lack of a better term.
Now, 'spirit' is a bit of a vague term, but it’s not impossible to understand regardless of whether you’re religious or not. It’s the state your mind is in, the non-physical part of you that is the seat of your character and emotion beyond the flesh itself.
Call it your mood, your attitude, your “energy”—whatever label you want to put on it, it’s something that every living person possesses, and it’s something that can be strengthened and healed.
Greet the Sun
One of the main reasons why I think that most westerners tend to not be as connected with their spirituality is their constant rambunctiousness. We’re constantly on some kind of autopilot; rushing to get to work, dropping off our kids to school, rushing to get our work done so we can get back home as quickly as possible, and through it all we seldom stop to appreciate life as it is.
One of the ways in which I try to remedy this is this: every morning once I wake up, the first thing I do is open my balcony door and step outside to greet the sun with a long, cleansing breath. Then I just gaze at the sky for a few minutes and let my awareness completely return to my body.
I do this before brushing my teeth, before having breakfast, literally before doing anything else. It helps me be more aware of my body, my life and my surroundings, instead of just sleepwalking through the day.
Meditate Every Day
I can’t stress enough how wonderful the practice of meditation is and how beneficial it can be to both your body and your soul. Your breath is the essence of your life, and it’s so ironic that we literally pay no attention to it as we go through our lives.
Meditation is all about focusing on the breath, on how good it actually feels to fill up our lungs with lovely, cleansing air.
By meditating every day for at least five minutes, you’ll learn to control stress a lot better, you’ll have more energy, and you'll find it easier to just be happy and content with your life—trust me on that.
Have you ever noticed how running on a treadmill in some stuffy old gym is far less satisfying than running alongside a riverboat or through a forest? There’s far more to this than just the fact that you’re getting fresh air (although that is a big part of it).
We as human beings are wired by evolution to be outside, and the fact that we spend most of our time behind closed doors is extremely unnatural and can even contribute to health issues in certain cases.
This is just one of the reasons why it’s a really good idea to bring your entire exercise routine out into the great outdoors, whenever the weather allows it. Expending energy in nature brings us back to our roots, our instincts, and promotes both our physical and spiritual health—ultimately leading to a powerful sense of purpose and well-being.
So trust me, whenever you have the chance to exercise or do yoga outside, take it. Your body and your spirit will thank you for it.
Image credit: Alissa Kepas