“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre, the French priest and philosopher, was right on!
This is something most of us intuitively know. When I was very young, about 8 or 9, I had an interesting experience to which I reacted as a spiritual being.
One day, looking at myself in the mirror, I stared at my belly button; then after a moment, a spontaneous thought emerged: “I am back in a female body this time.” There were no more thoughts for the next few moments. I stayed there contemplating my body as a new vehicle for my unfolding new life. There were no other thoughts judging the initial one. I remember that for a while, perhaps years after that, I was convinced my life was a rebirth of a soul.
I don’t blame you if you don’t believe this. Although it was a powerful experience for me and I could never forget it, every time I thought about it, my mind immediately disbelieved that it was real or that it had any significance. If you know our “ego” nature, you also know it has a strong pull on us, making us believe there is just one reality. As long as you are convinced you are only your physical body and your thoughts, the ego is in charge—in other words, peace and happiness are based on external sources.
In contrast, when you feel you are also a spiritual being, your happiness and peace become less and less dependent on external pursuits. But then, when you stop believing you are a spiritual being and start living as one, you spontaneously invite happiness and peace into your life, and in love, you merge with everything else.
If you are like me, someone who is inclined to engage in physical activity, how do you take good care of your body without getting trapped into concepts of physical attractiveness and health?
For many, many years I struggled to answer this question.
In Brazil, where I come from, an attractive body is worshiped as a sort of “God.” The way my family raised me, I was taught not only to strive for physical beauty, but also to be obedient, to serve, and to smile.
It took me years of suffering from inner conflict to accept my imperfect body and to find my way back to the intuitive faith in my heart. A heart that had always known my true identity as a spiritual being, even though my rational mind could not accept that as truth.
You might know well what I am talking about.
When you know there is a lot more to you than a body and a thinking mind, but you don’t know how to access that deeper part, you end up struggling in between them. And what a long journey “in between” it was for me.
Going back to the question, I must say that the answer is so paradoxical that even reflecting on it leads to a belief that you are someone with a body on a trip to the land of fitness and health. In other words, you start thinking of yourself as a psychological being with a physical body, and you believe that once you become fit and healthy you will achieve joy and happiness. In reality, those good feelings are only transitory because they’re still based on external things. You live as a physical being trying to have a spiritual experience.
This is how I see it: at one level of reality we are in a physical body, at another, we are souls (with psychological needs and wants that also yearn for pure love and peace), and at the ultimate reality, we simply are. These realities exist simultaneously.
What I find, is that there are ways of experiencing the physical and soul realities with the wisdom from the “IS” reality. The “IS” reality I refer to here is also known as the nirvana state, heaven, the divine presence, enlightenment, awakening, Christ’s heart, and Buddha nature, among others.
So much of our lives are concerned with the physical reality. We are deeply immersed in the fear of not having what we want, in the pain of not being satisfied with what we have, in passion (which creates more and more desires), in confusion from not knowing the source of our unhappiness, and in search of life’s deeper meaning.
I have seen these states of mind manifest right in front of me in the fitness domain, both professionally and personally. Who doesn’t want to have a fit, healthy, and attractive body? Who is totally satisfied with their body? Who is not afraid of losing their physical attractiveness and health?
Before becoming a professional in the world of fitness, I was a fitness enthusiast for more than 20 years. This is all part of my “in between” life. For the last two years, as I have lived more and more as a spiritual being having a physical experience, I have come to see myself existing in different realities at the same time. As a result, life has become so much more interesting, rich, loving, joyful, and peaceful.