As Spring slowly begins to melt away Winter weariness, the season of renewal encourages us with its qualities of growth and movement. Yet even with the burst of energy that Spring delivers, we may find ourselves bored or vaguely dissatisfied with previously reliable workouts. It may be helpful to remember that “growth and movement” can also refer to the inner Self, the one that requires more than a good sweat to promote development.
Today’s post suggests ways to add spiritual elements to your favorite—or most dreaded—exercises. Please note that “spiritual” in this context does not denote “religious”: One need not ascribe to a formal religion, nor claim adherence to a particular doctrine. Rather, I refer to the essential spirituality that lives in each of us: the energetic radiance of the Soul, the compassion of the Heart, and the Mind’s ability to hone in on and foster connection to the wisdom of the Universe.
First, we may draw from the esoteric system of numerology: specifically, the significance of the number 11. Eleven is known as a Master Number. The characteristics of other multi-digit numbers typically are reduced to a single digit, in order to reveal their qualities. Eleven is never reduced: The number imbues its spiritual mastery into whatever it is associated with: For example, Instead of 8 or 12 repetitions of an exercise, aim for 11. Because the brain and body enjoy symmetry, It may initially feel awkward to end a set of movements on an odd number. Yet, the inherent energetic vibration of an 11-count will infuse your routine with its spiritual prowess.
Another aspect of spirituality that may be awakened in your workout occurs with large arm movements. Any time that one moves their arms through space, the surrounding magnetic field is stimulated. When running or walking, for example, one may feel compelled to swing or circle the arms. When you focus on the type and angle of movement, your mind and body begin to integrate the esoteric qualities of the move.
For example, when lifting free weights, create an angle of 30 degrees with any typically up/down or in/out move. This angle affects the Heart meridian, and bolsters one’s ability to be compassionate. Or, add overhead criss-crossing arms or punches from the shoulders out to the sides: These movements break up old patterns of behavior and belief, respectively. Finally, a simple swing of both arms, forward and back, heightens the cleansing energy that is directly associated with Spring.
And perhaps the simplest, yet arguably most profound add-on to any workout or daily activity is mantra and/or mudra. Remember, it is not necessary to chant aloud: A whispered or inner repetition of words or sounds deeply integrates the qualities and intentions of the vibration. An excellent mantra to spark inner vitality—and to reduce anger—is the word “Har.” With each step or squat or jump or twist, chant “Har.” This is the vibrational essence of Sun energy: The heat and power of the sound combination breaks up and sheds emotional and physical waste.
You may also wish to pair a mudra with the chant. For example, on both hands, touch the tip of the thumb to its respective ring, or third finger for Surya Mudra. This “hand posture” reinforces the energy of the Sun: When combined with any movement or mantra, the result is one of purification and increased stamina.
Or, try a mudra for Heart energy: Again on both hands, curl the index finger inside of its corresponding thumb; the available thumb tip touches the tips of the second and finger. With this Apan Vayu Mudra intact, the Heart calms and develops a steady rhythm. I have often employed this finger position following a period of high physical or emotional energy: Breathe deeply, and let the mudra restore and steady your nervous, respiratory, and circulatory systems.
As you begin to experiment with these ideas—11 as a spiritually connective number; precise arm angling (30 or 60 degrees, for example); and mantra with mudra—note any inner changes. Even the slightest difference in your mental, emotional, or physical state signals the beginning of transformation within. The physical body is not only a vessel of containment and locomotion, it is an antenna and a conduit: Use these techniques to connect with the energy around you; then, consciously direct it inward to develop spiritual awareness and connection.