by Michael Ketterhagen
“To stay on the surface of anything is invariably to miss its message .”
--Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ
Life isn’t just mental or physical. Yoga teaches us that. So does T’ai Chi.
A full life is a life that understands that the mental and physical aspects of doing yoga or T’ai Chi are spiritual as well. When yoga or T’ai Chi is done just for physical reasons, the yogi, yogini or the T’ai chi player often misses the deeper dimensions of the practice—the conscious union of body, mind and spirit. If the practitioner focuses only on perfecting the physical poses in yoga and the movements of a T’ai Chi sequence, s/he just develops a strong, balanced, flexible body. But when we go deeper; namely, watching the flow of the breath in the body and intentionally bring the mind to the awareness of that flow, we experience the life force of the practice. We experience the unity of our body, breath and mind. We begin to know the unity of our mental self with that life force which just happens to be in one particular yoga asana or one particular martial art movement of T’ai Chi.
This principle, that every activity of life or status of life has a spiritual dimension, operates throughout all of life. The earth has a spiritual dimension. Basketball playing has a spiritual dimension. Medicine has a spiritual dimension. Religious rituals have a spiritual dimension. Lighting a candle has a spiritual dimension.
For example, our family has used homeopathy for years to treat our children’s and our illnesses. According to the medical world and the strictly materialistic world of science, the remedies that one takes are only sugar pills, just placebos. There is no physical molecular structure left in the remedy. However, the energetic life force of the remedy is present and that is what “cures” the illness. Our personal experience of giving these remedies to the children and taking the remedies ourselves has validated that these remedies are not meaningless. They are meaningfully fulfilling the deeper dimension of the “pill.” Even animals are “cured” of certain maladies with homeopathy.
Another example is one from the Catholic Christian Tradition. According to that tradition, the bread and the wine at the Eucharistic Liturgy (often called the Mass) actually is transformed in substance into the Body and Blood of Lord Jesus Christ. On the surface it looks and tastes like bread and wine, but actually is the Life Force of Christ. This happens through the ritual practice and the intention of the practitioners, the worshippers.
It is the intention to experience the deeper dimension of the yoga asanas or the T’ai Chi routine that makes the practice a more meaningful experience. This intention allows the true message of the unity of life and oneness with the Source of Life to present itself.
The deeper we live, the more we understand the message of life… It is all one! Let’s not miss that message in whatever we do.
I pray to the divinity within you!