While the focus of many of my newsletters has been on mindset and state of being, this Passover holiday has reminded me that the physical is spiritual.
Passover, otherwise known as the season of our freedom, has reintroduced to me the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and spiritual health. Although it is helpful to categorize activities or treatments, truthfully, they are all one. In other words, one may think that the solution to a problem - let’s say neck pain - is to work on one’s mindset by concentrating one’s thoughts on what’s positive, or to work spiritually by mastering one’s emotions, visualizing their neck healing and allowing the body to heal itself. These activities and approaches are part of the three legged stool that is holistic health; however to be effective in reality, it should lead to conscious action.
The solution may show up and seemingly be physical, like getting a massage; however, just because the person is not sitting with her eyes closed meditating or praying does not mean she’s not engaged in a Divine activity.
It donned on me that practicing meditation actually can be considered a physical activity. In meditation, the meditator is not simply closing her eyes and wishing for something to happen. In the series Rewired, Dr. Joe Dispenza shared the following experiment performed by the HeartMath Institute. The researches took a group of people who were expert prayers and they set 3 vials of DNA in front of them. They instructed the participants to see in their mind with clear intention the DNA winding or unwinding. They checked to see if the DNA changed in any way. At the end of the experiment, it didn’t change. Intention did nothing to affect the DNA. Then they asked them to open their heart and generate the signal to the field to see if the energy from their heart affected the DNA. At the end of the experiment, again there was no change. Finally, they said to them to see the DNA unwinding and to open their heart and give thanks that it is actually unwound before it occurred. The moment they combined the clear intention with elevated emotion more than 20% of the DNA unwound. So, rather than wish for something to happen, the meditator must, in a way, visualize some physical activity that represents what they intend and generate the emotions the event will evoke. Along the example of healing neck pain, getting a massage is an example of how it would manifest into physical action. Furthermore, a reason the physical activity would then be considered a Divine activity is because it is now being performed - actively or passively - with conscious intention. Meaning, the massage is not done for selfish reasons, but rather by translating the intention into a physical act, the physical act becomes an expression of a higher purpose. The massage can now be experienced to help loosen the neck and brain and lead to greater alignment of the head, neck, and body, thus ultimately leading to better expression of one’s Divine purpose.
The teaching in Proverbs 3:6 is to “know Him in all your ways.” Your, with a lower case y, refers to the human being not to G-d. The Creator of the Universe is not asking us to know Him in His ways, but in our ways. In the day-to-day activities we engage in. This can include going to a new environment to help you refocus, as opposed to being greater than it. It can include getting a massage, exercising, and most all physical activities. It’s not the activity that necessarily needs to change, but the approach one has with it. If a massage will help you relax and improve your meditation/prayer, as well as fulfill your purpose, if it’s for it’s own sake, the sake of Heaven, then the massage too becomes a G-dly act. Might I say, a darn pleasant one!
Go do something physical. It might just be the most spiritual thing you could do. After all this is the real connection of mitzvot, which are physical actions that bind the performer with G-d. In closing, however, connecting with Him is not only by doing the mitzvot. Knowing Him in all your ways can include a necessary and well-deserved massage. Then, performing activities like mitzvot becomes more intimate with the Creator.
Whereas the soul is commonly thought to be higher and ‘closer’ to G-d, actually the body is higher and in this way it can be our best teacher. Listen to it.
Mentally & Spiritually - A Message from Passover
The Torah commands that “one must view himself as if he left Egypt.”
In order to view oneself as if you left Egypt, ask how you would feel if you broke free from a limitation you may be experiencing?
Certainly, you will feel a heartfelt sigh, or joyous and full of song, like the generation who sang “the song of the sea” upon the exile from Egypt. Rather than waiting for the solution to start celebrating, celebrate as the solution finds you. This is also hinted in a teaching from the Alter Rebbe on the matzahs we eat the first night and the second night of Passover. On the first night the matzah is the ‘bread of healing,’ while on the second it is the ‘bread of faith.’ “When healing leads to faith,” the Alter Rebbe teaches, “in that a person says, ‘I thank You, G-d, for my recovery,’ he was, nevertheless, sick. But when faith generates healing, a person is not sick in the first place.”
The body can feel constraint too. The Maggid of Mezritch taught that, “A small hole in the body causes a large hole in the soul.” When the body is chemically in balance from proper nutrition and movement/exercise, the person is better prepared, not to mention able, to express her soul purpose and mission. Having a healthy body is integral to Divine service, as Maimonides too said it is impossible to know G-d when one is sick. The way taking care of your body presents itself - in this moment - may be through proper nutrition, exercise, a float tank, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a sauna and/or ice bath, meditation, a massage, or some other way!
Rather than think to yourself that you need to do something “physical, mental, or spiritual,” go with the flow and listen to what’s calling you in this moment. It may be to sit quietly with yourself, it may be to go exercise, it may be to do a brain game (I used to play Lumosity), or something else. Whatever it may be, it’ll be just right for you.
Podcast Resources :
Podcast Episode 14: Bring More Awareness to our Bodies with with Massage therapist Jeneesa Jackson
Podcast Episode 31: Health & Wellness is Available to all with Craniosacral massage therapist, Ady Burgida.
Podcast Episode 61: No Brain, No Gain with Coach and Sports Massage Therapist Johnny Shelby – Johnny is the one who gave me a much needed deep tissue massage Thursday afternoon before the holiday of the 7th and 8th day of Passover began. It honestly assisted in having a meaningful holiday full of clarity and freedom!
Podcast Episode 80: Using the Body in Service of G-d with Rabbi Ari Enkin