Leo Tolstoy on God

LEO TOLSTOY ON GOD: "When you look inside yourself, you see what is called 'your own self' or your soul. You cannot touch it or see it or understand it, but you know it is there. And this part of yourself--that which you cannot understand--is what is called God. God is both around us and inside of us--in our souls.

The more you understand that you are at one with God, the more you will understand that you are at one with all His worldly manifestations."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

In Defense of Ego: "The Power of Strength"

Photo Credit: Labio Guia. This image demonstrates strength that goes way beyond the physical.
I've been working out at fitness centers for decades now. When I go two-to-three times a week, sometimes only once, I always get energy from the guys who pump iron. They pump iron and grunt, as they pile on more and more weights. No one at the gym thinks them strange for making these animal sounds; we all understand: lifting weights and building a strong body is hard work.

I admire these guys, and women, too, who are growing into stronger and more powerful bodies. We admire them for their strength and physical fitness, and this is rightly so for all the time and attention and love they give to their bodies.

But were I to whisper this to you, "these folks ain't seen strength yet," would you believe me?

The truth is that whereas our physical strength comes from building muscle and equipping ourselves with the best tools necessary to sustain a healthy body, the real power of our strength comes from within. 

No one...repeat...no one...including world-class athletes, bodybuilders and/or muscle-bound aficionados can lift a muscle and grow forward, if they didn't have the inner strength and constitution to keep believing each day that they could do it. All of these fit people know one thing: they must dedicate and commit to going to the gym as often as they feel necessary to keep growing stronger and stronger, bigger and bigger. They may take it for granted that this is required. What many may not know, though, is that they could be stronger still, with perhaps less effort, by first going still within and connecting with the source of their being. 
(EDITOR'S DISCLAIMER: Any commercial enterprise promoted on this blog is done freely and because of admiration and appreciation for the work and/or business. Namaste' Wholistic does not have direct contact with any management personnel at Planet Fitness.

We must first acknowledge the positive role EGO plays as the impetus for us wanting to look, and be, our best. Yet, it is by getting past the motives of "looking good," or "being bigger" that allows us to truly succeed.

Getting beyond self and visualizing the strong presence we want to manifest can be just as powerful as piling on more weights. The owners of many of the gyms seem to know this, too, as scattered throughout almost all of the gyms I've had membership are several powerful images and motivational pieces. Planet 
Fitness, a very moderately priced fitness center, appeals to the masses and offers more than just equipment and good management. Scattered throughout Planet Fitness gyms, and on every machine, are motivational pieces to keep members focused on the goal at hand.

Of course prices at Planet Fitness locations may vary and depend on time of year. 
On every machine, Planet Fitness has these these words: "You Belong." "No Critics. " "No Judgement."  The walls are beautifully complemented with images of perseverance, strength, courage, stamina and much more. The  color scheme of purple, black and yellow on the machines and walls also adds to motivation and the ambiance at this very well presented fitness center.
On Planet Fitness machines, members find motivational words. 

We can look at the cover photograph (at the very top of the blog) and wonder all day how these women and one man manage to stay up without falling, leaning their bodies on top of, and intertwined, with each other. We may never get an answer. We can only imagine the inner strength, coupled with their physical fitness, that allows them to stay centered, strong, focused and connected. There's lots of trust there, too. Trust in one another and themselves. Teamwork. Trust. This is powerful stuff. (See this too: Collaboration at Its Best.)

The spirit within us is the strongest part of ourselves. Lizzie Velasquez clearly lives this truth. ("The 'Ugliest' Woman Speaks Against Anti-Bullying.")

When our lives would want to crumble all around us, the way we pick ourselves up is by going quietly within and reconnecting to the source of our being. Sometimes, we are so far removed from this connection that it may take years for us to reach back into center. Like the athletes and others who slowly build muscle through exercise and discipline to reach their goal, we, too, must practice and prune ourselves to go further in and build stronger spiritual muscle. It is not an "overnight thing."

Photo Credit: Dado Ruvic, REUTERS. Imagine the determination and strength it took Momir Bojic of Bosnia to build this  Volkwagen Beetle.  Bojic sculpted 50,000 pieces of oak to build the car's exterior  and interior. 

Building spiritual muscle is the hardest job you'll ever have on Earth. Life constantly tests us, and we fall backwards sometimes. But if we can keep on the road...that inner road...to strength, our "salvation" to "the promised land" will be the prize.

Only you can decide how many hours you want to dedicate to building your spiritual muscles. Only you can decide whether it is worth the reward or not. But I promise you this: if you are miserable and feel lost today, the only way you'll get out of that feeling is to slowly hold on to the wall of spirituality around you and keep inching your way back home.

Gradually and steadily, holding tightly to the wall of prayer, meditation and commitment to God, you will make your way.

Just hold on.

Keep holding on.

Use whatever tools and equipment you have around you. The journey does not require expensive props.

Gospel music on the radio, preachers on the radio or television who touch your Soul, music in church, friends you admire and love all bring messages that can help you.

Walking in the park, in nature, tending your garden, playing with your cat and/or dog are all ways to connect and go deeper within.

The main thing, the key to living a fulfilled life, is staying Present and Aware in each moment. Know that you know that you know this moment is special every time you're having one. Pay attention to yourself, your thoughts, your feelings when you're in the presence of another or in a certain place.

If you have feelings of discomfort when in a place or in a person's presence, move
quickly away. If not, you'll end up chasing your tail and getting distracted from your goal.

Make your home a sanctuary for your Soul. Make sure your surroundings are pleasing to you. If you're seeing chaos, that is a metaphor for your life. Start cleaning up your act!

Use candles, incense, an aquarium, flowers, aromatherapy and other soothing "instruments" to relax and soothe you.

Love yourself. More than anything or anyone else: LOVE yourself!
Loving yourself does include pampering...but also means getting beyond the exterior of self. This is where many of us fall short. 

"To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." William Shakepeare 

The truth is this: if you can't love yourself, then how can anyone else love you?

Getting to the self beyond the Ego, i.e. the inner journey, is the longest one you will ever undertake.

 But "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step." -Confucius

Make a commitment to grow stronger by connecting within.
All the strength you need resides there, muscle-bound or not.

May God Bless You on the Journey Within!



Maduke said...

It seems like forever. It feels like forever. And then I came to your blog, once again. I have been feeling lost and without purpose. I have been listening to ego and the self pity that so longs to be nurtured. And I had to get a hold of myself. It was, my friend, perfect timing to come here. In the past, your words have always been useful to me, comforting and instructing me to go higher. And this time, this time it is special because I was feeling lost. I lost sight of me. And now, I turn around. I light a candle, put on soothing sounds, and melt into the present. Thank you my friend.

Che' Vyfhuis said...

Peace, Maduke. Stay in the Presence and in the present. So grateful that my words can bring you comfort. That's WHAT this journey of mine is all about...living as authentically as I am able...and sharing with others.

I hope you read next month's "Power of Wisdom," posting on July 6, as this should resonate with you, too, as it follows the same lines.


Personal Authenticity: "To Thine Own Self Be True"...

"To Thine Own Self Be True and it must follow as the night, the day, Thou canst not then be false to ANY man."
William Shakespeare.