Although people talk about the human body, mind and spirit as three separate entities, they are as inextricably linked as the trilogy of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christian theology. Perhaps viewing them in the light of such an analogy isn’t entirely inaccurate in regards to practices like yoga that combine the trio.
Religious people and mystics have long turned to body-based practices to reach spiritual insight. For example, periodic fasting is an integral part of many traditions, from the Muslim Ramadan to Good Friday in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
The ancients instinctively knew what many modern minds ignore — the body is a holy vessel intended to contain and nurture the spirit. Neglecting the former invariably harms the latter, and caring for your physical health is a powerful way of honoring the Creator with gratitude for your existence. Here’s why connecting with your spirituality means connecting with your body and tips for strengthening the bond.
The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
How do you spiritually connect with your body? How does your physical wellness influence your religious or spiritual practices?
Think about the last time you felt sick. While you may have prayed to feel better, you probably lacked the energy to attend services, take a mindfulness walk or practice yoga. You might not have even been your best self, perhaps snapping at loved ones as your pain clouded your higher self’s judgment. Conversely, you carry out your spiritual duties with joy when you feel physically healthy.
The body benefits the spirit, but the effect works both ways. You can use the mindfulness you cultivate in your spiritual practices to address physical ailments. For example, are your low energy levels truly the result of a soul crisis or of an underlying vitamin D deficiency from the lack of sunlight over the winter? Could your sense of despair have less to do with disillusionment with your faith and more with a magnesium deficiency resulting in depression?
Unfortunately, many faithful dismiss the body as somehow “dirty” or unworthy of the same attention more mystical, esoteric subjects demand. However, stop for a moment to marvel at the wonders of human physiology, how complex systems interact with one another, harmonizing in the infinitely complex creation that is you. You might regard the mysteries of the body as further proof of the Creator’s hand in each unique individual or evidence of an underlying design uniting the entire universe, depending on your belief system.
Shift your mindset toward one of appreciating your physical self as the perfect vessel for your soul. Like a precious urn containing a loved one’s ashes, your body is worthy of a place of honor. When you treat all of yourself — skin, muscles, bones, organs — as evidence of the Creator’s wisdom and glory, you naturally want to nurture and protect this heavenly gift.
What Does It Mean to Be Connected Spiritually?
You might not need the mindset shift. Practitioners of some pagan religions consider the body sacred and find empowerment in their physical self. They recognize the reality of the physical and bless nearly every aspect of their existence with faith and love in seemingly mundane choices.
For example, contemporary feministpaganism and Goddess spirituality have helped countless sexual abuse survivors reclaim agency over their bodies, healing them through rituals. Other pagans spill their beliefs into environmental causes, protecting the planet not only out of the necessity of preserving a home for humans but from a deep, reverent respect of her as their Mother.
Perhaps that is the ultimate answer to the question of what it means to be connected spiritually. Spiritual connection means loving yourself and your body as a vessel of divinity as you understand it. It’s also a tool for spreading the message of love to all other living beings through your daily words and deeds. Caring for your physical needs nurtures your soul.
How Do You Spiritually Connect With Your Body? 8 Techniques
Certain practices can help you spiritually connect with your body. You can try some or all of these activities, depending on your belief system. Experiment to see what works best for your unique physical self and faith.
1. Restorative Yoga
Yoga helps your brain waves shift from active, beta waves to the slower, more contemplative alpha and theta varieties. This style of yoga includes plenty of quiet time on the mat, and the alterations in mental patterns can promote spiritual insight.
2. Mindful Body Scans
A mindful body scan is a fabulous tool for checking in with yourself and how your physiological sensations influence your mood and behavior toward others. It only takes five minutes a few times a week to master the technique, after which you can perform one anytime, anywhere to practice self-care and tune into your interoception — physical sensations arising from within the body.
3. Mindful Walking
Mindful walking isn’t intended to increase your daily step count, although that will be a side effect. Instead, this practice is ideal for helping you calm and center yourself when strong emotions cause physical reactions in your body. Focus on how your feet feel as they strike the earth and contemplate your connection with the living things surrounding you.
Gardening puts you in touch with the life cycle. What better way to contemplate the mystery of existence and the infinite wisdom of the Creator? This activity also gets your body moving, improving your health. Furthermore, doing so outdoors improves your mood, according to several studies.
5. Working With Animals
Working with our 4-legged friends can be quite the workout — ask anyone who rides horses competitively. However, you can also connect with your body while taking Fido for a stroll. Why not make it a mindfulness walk?
Playing with your pets deepens your appreciation of all life, even that very different from your own. Isn’t it amazing how cats and dogs can pick up on your moods and offer comfort in hard times without speaking a word of your language?
6. Testing Your Limits
How much can the glorious creation known as your body do? Many people reveal attaining spiritual insights while testing their limits. The Buddha meditated for 49 days, and Christ tested his faith over 40 painstaking days in the desert. Could training for an ultramarathon help you achieve salvation? The answer lies between you and your Creator.
Reiki directly connects your body with unseen energies that flow through all things. Western scientists theorize that the magic may lie in the biofield, an electromagnetic field surrounding all living beings. Some people swear by the practice for improving physical and mental health.
8. Interpretive Dance
Dance is a glorious way of celebrating the spirit through body movements. It is also an integral part of several formal religious practices, such as the whirling dervishes among the Sufi Muslims. You can follow a formalized style or move your body in ecstatic rhythm with accompanying drum beats, letting your spirit guide the way.
Why Connecting With Your Spirituality Means Connecting With Your Body
Connecting with your body can act as an entryway to the temple of the spirit. Like the Christian trinity, it is impossible to separate your mind, body and soul — they are all a part of the Creator’s design.
Try connecting with your spirituality by connecting with your body using the techniques above. You can deepen your understanding of divinity while nurturing your soul.