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Day 49: The 4 Bodies

December 2, 2023

Today is the antithesis of yesterday.

My first activities in the early morning were similar to yesterday – audio book, meditation and some learning – but how I felt was completely different and I didn’t bother getting out of bed. I haven’t exercised yet. There has been no cold water dipping. I’m tired and I have a headache.

Today I’m going to have to put in some effort to turn things around for myself.

I’m in this state because yesterday, I got carried away with the festivities. I joined the kids in having some cake that my daughter had made at school and we had a “carpet picnic” whilst watching a Christmas film – we usually eat at the table. I also had 2 decent sized glasses of wine. And now I feel it.

So today I’m going to have to work at returning to a place of ease because I’m all out of whack. For a while now, I’ve known not to beat myself up when I do stuff like this, despite the fact that I seem to continue to do it even when I know SO MUCH better.

What I haven’t been able to articulate before, however, is why it’s unhelpful to beat myself up.

Perhaps it’s all the meditation and spiritual learning I’ve been doing lately, but this morning, a concept I learned about several years ago from Hannah Richards in her book, “The Best Possible You” popped into my head. Hannah is a gut specialist and I read her book back in 2021 before speaking to her on my podcast, and I was fascinated by her take on health. In the book, she spoke about the “4 bodies” – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies – each of which contributes to how we feel. When they’re all in harmony, we feel good. When one of them is out of alignment, we feel a sense of unease or dis-ease (the precursor to disease).

In the Western world, we pay enormous attention to physical and mental disease but hardly any attention to physical or mental dis-ease – and almost no attention to emotional or spiritual…well…anything really.

What does this have to do with joy?

When my mental or emotional bodies are out of kilter, I usually make choices that affect my physical body. I eat too much, drink alcohol and seek comfort and pleasure. I over indulge.

When it comes time to pay for that over indulgence, I see there are two ways I can do it. The first is by beating myself with a stick – a guaranteed way to throw the mental and physical bodies further out of kilter and probably perpetuate the cycle. The second is engage in practices that realign the mental and emotional bodies – to bring myself to a space where my mind is quiet and I am patient and compassionate rather than judgemental and catty.

Until the writing of this blog, I gave little thought to my spiritual body, but through the writing, learning and conversations I’ve engaged in over the last 49 days, I’m seeing that a balanced spiritual body may well be the foundation on which the mental and emotional bodies can rest more easily.

I think I’ve been making everything harder for myself by neglecting this part – like trying to get an elephant to balance on water bottle and wondering why I’m finding it so difficult.

At this point, I’m not sure I fully understand what spirituality even is. All I know so far is that it’s a connection to something bigger than ourselves. I’ve dabbled with this idea before but never fully invested in the spiritual equivalent of “going to the gym”.

Perhaps today, I needed to be in this state for that necessity to be revealed, and although I’m tempted to run off to an Indian ashram to meditate for 6 weeks to figure it out (this is probably because I’m currently reading Eat, Pray, Love and this is what Elizabeth Gilbert did in her efforts to find balance and peace) I don’t have that luxury so I’ll need to figure it out another way.

Either way, I think this offers another piece of the puzzle and helps explain a little more about the difference between happiness and joy – happiness pleases the emotional and mental bodies while joy pleases the spiritual body – or that’s my take on, at least.

What’s your take?

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