A friend of mine who’s been receiving some coaching from me has graciously agreed to let me use one of our talks as a case study on my blog. We both felt that the issue we discussed would be relevant to a lot of people and that the insights we achieved could be helpful to anyone struggling with the question of whether or not the activity they’ve chosen to dedicate their life to (or the one they want to dedicate their life to) is “spiritual enough”. I apologize in advance for the length, but I think you’ll find it worth the time it takes to read. The case study demonstrates several key concepts most of us encounter in one way or another on our journey.
Some Background: Dan’s passion is Thai boxing and Mixed Martial Arts and although he’s been training and studying for years, he made the decision about a year ago to dedicate himself to it full time. He’s even planning on moving to Thailand for a while to study there and eventually wants to open his own training center, possibly helping inner city kids. When he’s in a fight, everything else ceases to exist. He becomes super focused, has access to incredible strength and agility and feels amazing. There’s no fear, just – and this is the controversial part for many – joy. He feels true joy when he’s in the ring. He’s also only lost once in his entire career. It’s obvious that when Dan is fighting, he’s streaming a ton of energy; he’s fully connected and in the Zone.
The Problem: Dan is also a deeply spiritual person. He’s been working on raising his vibration and improving his connection to source for years now. Where he used to feel anger and rage, he now feels love and compassion. His entire outlook on life has changed. He and the people around him, his spiritual teachers, Buddhist monks he deals with, friends and family couldn’t reconcile something as seemingly aggressive as fighting with his spiritual side. Can you love the world by punching someone in the face? In order to reconcile this conflict, we had to answer a few though questions.
Question #1: Dan was asked by one of his friends: “How are you benefiting the world by hurting others and yourself?”
Answer: First of all, the basis for this question rests on several faulty principles. The first is the idea that we have a responsibility to do something (take some kind of action) to help the world. It is not our actions that help the world. Since everything is energy and we are all connected, the best possible way to help the whole is to raise our own vibration. If we are moving into our own joy, if we are streaming energy, we are helping the world. There is no better way. And if, from that connected point of view, we are inspired to take action, that action will also truly benefit the recipients. Action taken from a point of fear or desperation helps no one, including the person taking the action.
Second, there’s an old belief buried in there that our bodies don’t belong to us. They belong to God, some force outside of ourselves, a sometimes benevolent but often malevolent creator who owns us. Therefore, anything we do to our bodies that could be seen as destructive is disrespectful and dishonorable to this deity. But God is not outside of us. We are the creators. We are God, all of us, individually and collectively. Our bodies are not on loan from some outside source, they were created by us in order to allow us to experience the physical world to its fullest. And any activity, physical or otherwise, that brings us joy, is in line with that purpose. In fact, I would think it’s more dishonorable to sit on the couch all day and not to use and enjoy your amazing bodies.
And third, there’s the idea that we can actually hurt someone else. No one can actually force anything upon you that you don’t allow. It’s always a co-creation. This is the hardest one for people to wrap their heads around, and I’m not going to go into it too deeply here on a philosophical level (I’ll leave that to another day), so let’s just view this point through the lens of this one example. Dan is not running around the streets looking for someone to punch. He and his opponent are both in the ring voluntarily. No one has coerced them and they’ve all undergone years of voluntary, strenuous training to be there. There are rules. A 90 pound weakling is not pitted against a 300 pound monster. There are classes of weight and levels of skill, as well as technical rules designed to keep the fighters safe.
Now, I don’t know about the other guys, but Dan’s intention when he gets in that ring is not to hurt the other fighter. He accepts that it might happen, but he doesn’t actually wish the other fighter any harm. He’s concentrating on his own body, on how he’s feeling, and on his own moves. He’s fully present in the moment. Let’s face it. You could get hurt or end up hurting someone else through just about any activity. Hell, you can open the door quickly and smack some unwitting person who was standing too close in the face. We cannot cocoon ourselves enough to avoid all risk of injury. That’s not the solution anyway. It is our intent, our energy and our focus that cause the reality around us to shift. And every person we meet up with is a match, at that moment, to the energy we’re projecting.
So, if Dan was getting in the ring full of rage and wanting to hurt someone, he would meet up with opponents that were a match to that state of mind – someone who had a subconscious need to be punished, for example. Dan’s desire to have a good, enjoyable fight, will match him up with that kind of opponent.
Question #2: A Buddhist monk told Dan that “Fighting is not spiritual. It’s aggressive. The two don’t go together.”
Answer: With apologies to the monk, I have to disagree here. To me, everything is spiritual. We are spiritual beings inhabiting the physical. From a big picture perspective, everything we do is spiritual. Anything we can do to connect, to flow the energy, to get in the Zone, will bring us closer to who we really are – the very definition of spirituality. We all have the ability to do it. When Michael Jordan flew through the air, he was connected. He was flowing tons of energy. When Da Vinci created the Mona Lisa (or any one of his thousands of visionary inventions) he was in the Zone. I flow energy every time I write an article or blog post, or coach someone. I translate the energy into words. A singer who inspires others is translating that energy into music. You might let the energy flow through you into a painting, a film, dance, a piece of jewelry, incredible clothing designs, cuisine that’s so good it stops conversation or any number of other activities. The waitress at the coffee shop who loves her job and brings joy to every customer is fully connected. Her job is spiritual for her. The farmer who grows food with joy and serenity, who is fully connected to the earth and Mother Nature, has a spiritual job. Any activity can be deeply spiritual providing you’re connected and it brings you joy.
Think about it. Let’s pick a seemingly mundane job like being a cashier at the supermarket. You go shopping and the lady at the cash register is just full of genuine good cheer, and fully connected. She’s leveraging energy, so she’s checking people out quickly and efficiently. But her high vibration is contagious. You go up to pay for your groceries and find yourself smiling and chatting with her. In fact, you found yourself listening and laughing along with the people who were in front of you, instead of being annoyed at having to wait. Those few minutes in the checkout lane have put you in a better mood. This woman is helping everyone around her simply by being happy. She’s connected, she’s flowing tons of energy, she feels fantastic and she’s benefiting herself and anyone that comes in contact with her. How can anyone judge this activity or any other that makes people feel this way, as not Spiritual?
Question #3: Dan asked “I’ve lost my anger and rage, which used to fuel my fighting. I always thought that it made me a better fighter. Now that those emotions are gone, will my performance decline?”
Answer: In a word: No. Anger and rage are emotions that stem from a feeling of powerlessness. When you feel powerless and you begin to raise your vibration (which you will naturally do unless someone tries to stop you) you move into anger and rage. Due to Dan’s upbringing, a feeling of powerlessness was pretty prevalent and so the activity of fighting, which he enjoyed and which therefore raised his vibration, pushed him to the next rung on the emotional scale: anger and rage. Fighting caused him to stream more energy, which felt good. He was more connected. And whenever we are fully connected, whenever we’re in the Zone, the activities we perform become easier and have a greater impact. Dan had access to greater speed, strength and agility because of his connection, not because of the anger and rage. It was the flow of energy that fueled his fighting, not his emotions. So, as long as he continues to stay plugged in, as long as he feels joy when in the ring, his performance can only get better.
Conclusion: Although Dan has no obligation to “help the world” with his fighting, it is very possible that this expression of source energy could affect a great many people in the future. For example, let’s say that Dan opens a training center and begins to train inner city youth. These are often individuals who feel incredibly powerless. To feel better, they must be guided (by their inner being, perhaps with the help of a teacher) up the emotional scale. The next stop will be anger and rage, as already discussed. But because these emotions are uncomfortable to most of us, they are strongly discouraged in our society. After all, we don’t want a bunch of angry, inner city youth running around, now do we? But these kids have to go through those emotions in order to move higher.
Now, I don’t imagine that a lot of these individuals will be open to techniques such as meditation and Yoga. But they would quite possibly be open to learning how to fight. And with the right teacher, someone who knows how to achieve a full connection and can demonstrate it, something that started out as a way to learn self defense and release frustrations, could easily lead to realizations about what it feels like to let go of anger and deliberately move into better feelings. Using his connection, Dan could end up changing the lives of hundreds of individuals that the rest of society would love to give up on. Thousands, if you count the knock on effect created by his students going out to teach others.
The point of this entire case study is to show that any activity which brings you joy, which causes you to feel your connection is a good one, a worthy one, a spiritual one. If you find yourself drawn to something that seems shallow or superficial or even has some aggressive undertones like a sporting activity, and you’ve been worrying that you can’t reconcile this activity with your spiritual side, I say go for it. Find your joy. Find your happiness. And you’ll do more to save the world than if you forced yourself into half-heartedly performing a more “worthy” activity. Exponentially more.
Did you find this case study helpful? I’d love it if you took the time to let me know what you think in the comments.