spirit |╦łspirit|
1 the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul
2 those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period
1 convey rapidly and secretly

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nurturing the Spirit: A Guide to Balance

In this crazy world of ours, we make our way through life the best we can and yet we yearn for more. More love, more friends, more wealth...the list changes from time to time but effectively never ends.

There is nothing wrong for yearning for more in our lives or to have our lives be better. In truth, this is our human nature. We strive to survive and this brings with it a desire to enhance our lives. It may be difficult to compare a new Hummer (perish the thought!) with seeking a safer cave for our family, but the primordial drive underlies both motivations.

But these are the ways of our Mind. The logical Mind evaluates the available options and chooses what is deemed to be the best from a dizzying array of conscious and subconscious considerations. In the end (which may be reached in less than a second), our Minds make a choice and in our heads we can evaluate the logical pathways that both resulted in and justify our decision.

Over time we layer on subsequent decisions that leverage this framework of thinking to build an understanding of the world. Others do the same thing and in collaboration we have consensus (or "group think" depending on your perspective). We tend to socialize and spend time with people that think the way we think, believe what we think and even think the same way we think. In our social network, the diversity tends to be fairly constrained (other than the obscure relative or two).

With this framework firmly established, we go through life judging every thought, decision and idea against what we believe to be true. We can't evaluate every decision without consideration of what we already know for this would be highly inefficient (or simply considered a waste of time). We're already bombarded with billions of inputs a day and to consider each as a brand new concept would negate the beautiful way we are (with a brain capable of storing and retrieving vasts amount of information).

So there isn't anything wrong with building a mental construct of what we believe but embedded in this model is an opportunity to get it wrong. Whatever "it" is, once we store it in our Mind as a valid conclusion it is amazingly difficult to shake "it" loose. We do change our Minds from time to time, but not without serious consideration.

But the Spirit, in contrast, doesn't operate within this logical construct of life. For our Spirit, the desire to love, unite and grow is untethered from this logical framework of survival. Our Minds wonder if we'll get sick if we help someone in need of medical care, but before we know it our Spirit has compelled us to do the right thing. In balance, we find a way to do the right thing without logical consideration and manage to survive in the process. In this, neither is right nor wrong and all (i.e. Body, Spirit & Mind) are equally valued.

However, we have become too caught up in our Minds and find ourselves living entirely in the consciousness of our thoughts. The Body and Spirit are treated as the benefactors of the Mind as opposed to equal partners in the management of "you." We recognize our propensity to get lost in our mental ways and are drawn to brief opportunities to shift the balance (e.g. Church on Sundays, yoga after work, weekend warriors, etc.).

For the Spiritual seeker (those that desire to be closer to God), the path to balance is not drawing us away from the divine but rather into union with the divine. We seek ways that we can break free from a pure mental existance and live in balance, as well as in union, with our Body, Spirit and Mind as a method to live in God's intention.

But how do we do this? In living a life that both values and requires our Mind to guide us down the path, how do we maintain balance and, at the same time, not stay within the mental confines of our Mind?

The answer is (not surprisingly) not logical. In remembering the Spirit's propensity to love, unite and help all of Humanity we find a way to break away and land in balance. We can do this by acting on small impulses (e.g. becoming conscious) to nurture the Spirit:

  • give a compliment to a stranger without expectation of reaction or response.

  • help the next person you see that could use a hand (e.g. hold the door for them, help them pick up whatever they dropped or teach a child a small lesson).

  • sponsor someone (e.g. pay the toll for the car behind you, buy someone's restaurant meal or buy someone who you don't know a pass to your yoga studio or gym).

Will these small acts change the world or will they vault your being into balance? By even asking the question we fall back into the Mind's logical ways and fall away from Spirit. Instead try nurturing your Spirit in these small, conscious ways without expectation. In this, you come towards balance and help Humanity come towards God in meaningful ways.

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