I believe in something bigger than myself. I know we each have a body, and I believe we each have a spirit. Our spirits and bodies can act independently of one another. And our bodies can get in the way of spiritual experiences.
Finding Spirit through the Body
But I think a good way to try to get a spiritual experience is to do it through our body. I think this is why religions have rituals that you must do with your body. I come from a Christian background, so I can use examples such as kneeling to pray, partaking of bread and water as a weekly cleansing, baptism, etc.
Perhaps a more widespread ritual is going to a church, synagogue, temple, mountain, or a sacred place to pray. Certainly, one can pray anywhere, but making the effort to put your body in a sacred place
Even if you don’t believe this in the spiritual sense, I still recommend using your body to get your mind and mental health into a better place.
Luckily, my depression is moderate, and often something simple like good food or good sleep can make the difference. Doing something healthy for my body can be healthy for my mind.
Exercise is a perfect example. Scientifically, it’s good for us because it builds strength and causes endorphins. And for me, there’s a certain freedom of the mind in the rhythm I find in working out.
I have several coping mechanisms I think of as immersion.
One is quite literal–jumping into the ocean. As a watered-down (no pun intended) version, I take a bath or a shower. I even have some jars of sea water in my bathroom to dump over my head when I shower. A psychic once told me that taking a sea-salt bath can cleanse my aura. What better sea-salt bath than the sea? I lose my anxieties when I emerge from the ocean. It feels like I’m washing negative thoughts away.
I have a soft-bristled brush that I sometimes draw lightly over my skin to soothe myself when I feel down. I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit it–it sounds kind of weird and possibly silly. But it reminds me of how my nieces and nephews like rubbing or holding soft things.
The weighted blanket is like hug. I don’t know what else to say about it.
Even if I don’t have the courage to jump into the ocean (it’s cold there), I enjoy watching the waves. Feeling the sand. Breathing the sea air. Putting my body in a different environment helps me clear my head.
I find peace in cemeteries and history museums because the environment reminds me of the size of the world. There has been so much time and my life is but a moment. There have been so many people, and my life is but one. There’s a quote from Contact that embodies how I feel when I realize these truths:
A vision… of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are!Contact (1997) Jodie Foster as Eleanor Arroway
Just like the rhythm of exercise can be a form of meditation, so is the rhythm of music.
Singing is known to have many health benefits. The diaphragmatic breaths we use can be an automatic stress-relief. And I find the vibrations of my own sound soothing. Is that weird? Or somehow masturbatory? Singing instantly inspires me to stand with strong feet, an elongated spine, and an open heart. Try that posture without even singing–confidence booster, right?
Playing the piano is one of the only things I do that can fully occupy my mind so I can’t think of anything else. My eyes, ears, hands, and brain are occupied. And when I say my brain is occupied I mean a lot. I’m reading two lines at once in another language and using both hands and sometimes a foot to interpret symbols and fractions into sound on the fly.
What do you do with your body to help your mind?