We discussed fasting last time for healing yourself in very noticeable ways through detoxing at multiple levels. Physical exercise is another manner of detoxing, while building up flexibility, energy, and strength. Further, in oriental martial and metaphysical forms of exercise, control and command to an exquisitely fine degree.
The skin, the largest organ of the body, excretes toxins through sweating, which happens when you exercise vigorously. A note of caution here is sweating too much without replacement of minerals and fluids can lead to exhaustion and muscle cramping. There’s a balance called for. Drinking liquids with mineral-rich herbs, salts and natural sugars, a good practice generally, is an essential must for those who exercise regularly.
Okay, I hear you ask the third time (at least) –
‘What the heck has exercise to do with imagination?’
I will repeatedly red flag this … the body always follows the mind and spirit.
The Journal of Neurophysiology (American Physiological Society), 2014, conducted a clinical study to monitor the impact of visualisation (imagination) on muscles and nerves. It concluded that imagining consistently can increase muscle tone, make them stronger, and prevent atrophy. This example is only one of hundreds of scientific studies that establish the influence of imagination on physiology.
Martial arts experts, including Bruce Lee, had well-defined protocols, in which the student moves nothing and through imagination and breath-regulation alone builds specific sets of muscles most unimaginably! All sports and muscle-building people will too, emphasise the importance of the mind in attaining goals, in spite of the fact that most of them are focused almost entirely on physical enhancement in their field of persuasion.
I ‘ve known this through my own personal experience, and in all my workshops lay particular emphasis on the awareness aspect of exercises. I have been invariably rewarded by gratified astonishment at the returns students get from just 15 minutes of simple exercises. I think of exercises as a peg to hang awareness, attention and continued focus on, because without the mind being trained or oriented to its own power, such focus would easily melt away at a moment’s distraction.
Exercises- A Mood Booster
The body chemistry that follows exercise is something that can make your day so much brighter. Moreover, the sense of starting with an achievement, infects the rest of the day with the same expectation.
While you are only dwelling on the physical exertion, pain and toning during exercise, there’s a whole industry of hormonal and chemical activity going on in your body. Endorphins minimise pain and give you euphoria in the short run, while reducing stress and boosting immunity in the long. Adrenaline increases oxygen and glucose to muscles, and muscle action converts the glucose to usable energy with other reactions that bring down the pH of the blood (a good thing). Norepinephrine sharpens mental acuity in response to the fight or flight trigger, and glycerol breaks down fatty tissue, at a pace directly proportionate to your increasing fitness. And to counter all the wear and tear, human growth hormone production goes up significantly for repair and reconstruction. These are just some of the benefits.
Imagination can boost mood directly of course, but exercise and imagination coupled can do vastly much more!
Imagination, Qi and the body
A knowledgeable yoga teacher will instruct you on cultivating prana, which may be described roughly as ‘life force’. The Chinese call it ‘qi’ pronounced ‘chi’, and it is central to all their remarkable feats of martial arts as well as exercises for health.
If you take a careful look at prana or qi, it is nothing other than consciousness or awareness permeating the physical. When you imagine, you increase your awareness, because you are consciously creating through the use of your senses. This is why prana or qi, working at a deep internal level, impacts not just your muscular structure, but also your organs, sinews, and cells. Doing exercises that include awareness through regulation of prana or qi score much higher than working out solely at the physical level.
Developing only brute will power is a bit like working out just muscles. I’ve seen seemingly strong and muscular ones often the least able to stretch. The powerful mind is the one that is able to exercise moment to moment control over its imagination. The healthy body follows, if that was part of the imagination. So work the qi, the imagination, or the consciousness along with your body. You’ll see the difference.
To Exercise or Not
Most people groan at the need to exercise regularly. Exercise, so the commonplace script runs, is tough, repetitive and boring. If you buy that, that’s exactly what your experience of it is going to be.
We are using imagination every thinking moment… people who keep imagining they hate exercises or that they are tiring, or difficult to do regularly, will consistently find reasons to give up. Then there are those who work hard at it and struggle with regimens despite all odds… and that’s how their experiential reality runs.
The ones who imagine themselves fit and energetic, easily stick to a schedule. You see them enjoying the whole thing, and deriving benefit with ease.
Someone is bound to ask, “Why exercise at all, why not just imagine?”
Sure, this can work when you are deeply in command of your imagination, of your awareness and consciousness. If you are not there yet, speak the language that communicates with your body. The idiom of exercising at the physical level is deeply embedded with the association of fitness, well-being and health. Neurologically and at the energetic level your body reads and responds. That’s why exercise works for you. The way every word written here has an accepted meaning and is speaking to you. If I introduce a completely new meaning to a word, I’ll first have to spend many paragraphs or chapters explaining the new meaning and convincing you to accept it, before I communicate anything to you.
So if you’re perpetually allergic to exercising, you don’t need to grit your teeth and bite the bullet. Exercise first your imagination. Relax into your favourite chair, go into a pleasant trance, and feel how it will feel when you already are fit, healthy and in great shape. Hear the compliments you’ll get from friends and dear ones. You’ll know you’ve got the right safe combination, when you hear that ‘click’. The click here is that you will want to exercise, and will feel good about it. You’ll find yourself eagerly looking up different kinds of fitness modules, joining classes, and exchanging notes with the neighbourhood fitness-freak you used to tiptoe away from. Opportunities for exercising will present themselves to you, and you’ll gather them with both arms. That’s how it works the easy way.
An individualised combination of elimination and detoxification, stimulation (breathing and exercise) and nutrition is complete preventive medicine. This is best done by exercising imagination (consciousness) for the physical to follow with ease. People who do not invest in this paradigm usually spend time and money in long drawn out treatment and management of various conditions; which unknowingly becomes their choice, the life-script they follow in a hardened pattern.
But then, you can very simply consciously choose to exercise your choice, and therefore your imagination … to exercise.
R K Chandrika