Are You Building Your Body or Breaking It?

Contrary to what you may think, both can be beneficial but perhaps not in the most obvious of ways…

Many people often use the expression of “breaking down” muscle to build it back bigger and stronger. And yes, there is often a microscopic “tearing” of muscle tissue that occurs as a result of resistance training.

However, a more accurate and useful model to think about is: “sending a signal which the tissue responds to by either growing, multiplying, and/or becoming more efficient in its fiber recruitment.”Not quite as catchy for sure, and definitely not great for a t-shirt or motivational poster.

But our words matter.

And the ones we choose to conceptualize an idea in our mind, hold more power than we sometimes realize.

The word “breaking” conveys destruction, damage, and typically negative effects. And if our goal is actually to build and improve upon the vessel we inhabit, conjuring up the vision of shattering it would do little to help in that endeavor.

Or does it?

If we step outside the biological understanding of how the human body works in a material, physical sense, the notion of breaking it suddenly has potential.

For beyond and within our body resides our mind. A nebulous concept debated by scholars and philosophers for millennia that remains unresolved, whose existence is undeniable by virtue of the very act of thinking about it.

As most of us know from experience, our minds can be our greatest asset or our biggest enemy.

Yet few of us fully understand our own mind because we haven’t spent enough time with it, void of other distractions. Often, our body stands in the way of a deeper interface. Constantly responding to a never ending stream of stimuli, our brains are incessantly tasked with interpreting and making sense of the world around us.

While essential for our daily survival most of the time, it can benefit us to override the system. To do so, we must take the body to a place it can no longer occupy this space in our mind, driven to the point of near failure where its desire to quit becomes overwhelming.

When our body is pushed to this “breaking” point, the only thing that allows us to carry on and continue is our mental fortitude. This is where one can truly begin to test and get to know one's self. We can start to have some real internal conversations and get a glimpse of who and what we truly are.

Given a long enough timeline, this process can repeat, with the mind eventually giving way for us to access the spirit. *For the sake of this discussion, the part of us that seems to be inextricably connected to something that exists outside our own consciousness is what I’m calling “spirit” (To whom or what we attribute this too is perhaps a topic for another day.)
[fig. 1]

Ask anyone who has fasted, sat in prayer for long periods, or completed any ultra-endurance effort, and they can tell you the experience was nothing short of transcendental. (The same can be said regarding the ingestion or consumption of certain exogenous substances, but again, we must relegate that to yet another future discussion.)

This cycle of “removing” the body to access the mind, quieting the mind to access the spirit, regardless of how it is achieved, has been known and practiced by almost every indigenous culture since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, most of us today rarely take the opportunity to even get ourselves to the first phase of this process. Sadder still, is how very few are aware that the sequence can repeat in an ascending spiral, perpetually growing into the fullness of your truest self.
[fig. 2]

For most of us walking the Earth today, we tend to find ourselves in a state of simply trying to ignore the body. Numbing the aches and pains accumulated throughout our life and doing our best to keep moving forward.

This approach leaves the mind in charge of masking the signals from the body. Given free reign, our mind then attempts to subdue our body's cues to the point where it falsely believes itself to be in total control. But the body is still imposing its influence, even if on a subconscious level.

At this point, we often do our best to simply try and avoid the mind, and this is sadly where most people operate throughout their adult lives.

However, if one was able to transcend the body through some means (by way of physical exertion, for example) we can reach a point that allows us to actually quiet the mind. Once this is accomplished, we tap into something truly other worldly, which is where we begin to hear and converse with the spirit. 

Now before you check out on me for getting too woo-woo here, let us just for a moment consider the possibility that there exists something beyond our five senses far greater than ourselves. Imagine something that perhaps can influence us outside the boundaries of our normal perception and calls us to be and do greater than we could conceive ourselves.

Connecting with this idea of spirit also re-connects us back to our own bodies and allows us to feel them again in a profound and productive way. This completes the first cycle as illustrated in fig. 1 but as shown in fig. 2, the model continues to ascend following the same pattern.

At this stage, feeling the body leads us to understand the mind, providing capacity to feel the spirit. The cycle teaches us to trust our body so that we can start to actively direct the mind. Once mastering the ability to manage the mind we recognize its role as an observer, not as our identity.

Knowing and believing that we are not our minds or our thoughts is liberating. Understanding they are simply part of our experience of reality and just a small expression of the beings we actually are, grants us the capacity to actually follow the spirit. And once on that path, the possibilities of who and what we can become are limitless.

Ultimately, what we choose to do with our bodies while we have them is entirely up to us. And while building one’s body is undoubtedly seen as good, occasionally “breaking” one’s body to build and connect with one’s spirit should be recognized as even better.

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