When I was 13, I watched The Karate Kid and believed that you could actually learn a martial art by waxing a car or staining a fence. When I grew up I left behind my gullibility along with my VHS copy of Daniel and Mr. Miagi, to my own demise. Imagine if we actually still believed that buried in our everyday pedestrian lives are gestures that can provide a better one.
I have been finding deeper meaning in some of the most mundane rhythms of my life. And in doing so, I have also discovered a beautiful living Simile (a comparison using like or as) that has helped me feel the intangible. These ideas came up in a conversation with someone who was struggling with taking care of their soul. How can we truly know how to care for something that we don’t truly understand? It was a good question, but what if the way in which we care for our bodies could actually be the same way in which we take care of our mind and spirit as well. Some might find that difficult to believe, but imagine also that it could be possible to do all three at the same time.
The problem initially is that most of us are apathetic about the care of our body so this thinking has no value. But if you could master the discipline and understanding of how to properly nourish, exercise and listen and rest in one area, you could possibly know what it takes in all three. I call this the Holy Trifecta.
When we live our lives in a disconnected way we make it so difficult later to find any meaningful connection between our bodies, minds and souls. But they overlap and that is to our benefit.
We are constantly bombarded by our cultures’ opinion of what health actually looks like. But health is more than having abs and a personal trainer. If we surveyed the general population the majority of people would recognize that fast food is not necessarily the best thing for our bodies all the time. Most people would also agree that some sort of physical movement needs to be apart of our daily routines, and that listening to our body and resting it is just as important. While these ideas are mainstream I don’t think we realize that the same principles apply to our minds and souls. If we work the analogy we find this simple trifecta works. Feeding our body fast food that lacks nutrition is no different than feeding our minds information that lacks knowledge. How many of us have spent hours on Facebook reading information that has absolutely no mental nutritional value at all. Likewise so many people are involved in forms of spirituality that are unhealthy substitutes promising spiritual weight gain and growth but are actually killing them spiritually. The way to correct and find health in any one of the trifecta is to find the answer for all of them, and this is why this is such a powerful analogy.
The place to begin is to first discover if you are doing any of these three aspects of your humanity well? You can at least decide upon which you might be doing in the most healthiest of ways. For many it is easiest to start with our bodies because when they break down it is tangible. It might be unreasonable to think that everyone could join a Gym or fitness club, but it’s not unreasonable to plan times of movement or activity in your day.
One of the biggest excuses we make is that we do not have the time and energy to do more work. So what if instead of doing more work we just changed the work we already do. If we apply this thinking to our bodies we can discover several ideas. Instead of driving to work you could try biking or walking. Perhaps if work requires a commute you could just park farther away and walk the rest. If we take this same thinking and now apply it to our minds we discover an incredible overlap. What if instead of just listening to talk radio during the morning commute we listened to a podcast that helped us learn that new language we were always interested in but never had the time. Or perhaps we could choose to expand our thinking by listening or reading something from a different perspective then the ones we found safe and comfortable. We exercise our thinking when we eat lunch with someone new, or ask the clerk behind the cash register about their culture or religion. The same process challenges our souls when we take time to learn more and be challenged. All three aspects of our life will atrophy if they aren’t exercised and nourished properly.
Something amazing happens when we discover ways to do all three at the same time. We miss the point however if we think this is about saving time. But when we find this alignment we recognize a deeper kind of living that opens up a whole new world. In her book An Altar In The World, Barbara Brown Taylor helps us see this happen in the following observation;
In a world of too much information about almost everything, bodily practices can provide great relief. To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly…In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.
Most would agree that anything we do with our bodies requires thinking, but many wouldn’t think that it is also spiritual—and perhaps this is the problem. When you work out only one aspect of your being you deprive the rest. Unbelievably though they all require the same things; nutrition, challenge, listening and rest in its various forms.
What if we discovered that we don’t need more work to be a better person, but just need to change the way we do the work we are already doing. Would we find what we have been searching for is already in our lives. Imagine learning a new recipe, and walking to the store to purchase the groceries. Picture the physical gestures of preparing the meal. Imagine inviting someone to share it with and sitting down to take a moment to be thankful. What would happen if we actually recognized all the lives that helped produce that meal from the farmers to the truck drivers to the creator that made it all possible. We might discover that by changing the way we participate in something we do everyday that it could actually feed our body, mind and soul. And who knows, we might actually grow.
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