Most fitness books and websites concentrate so heavily on losing fat weight that they lose sight of the higher realms that fitness draws you into. Years of exercising have not only given us fresh insights into ourselves and what makes us tick, it has also given us an entirely different perspective about life.
We are convinced that all of us live in several worlds without recognising it. As a society that needed the protection of organisation against barbarism and anarchy, we built ourselves a safe world enclosing ourselves in physical, geographical boundaries. In the civilising process, we encased our minds too. Due to their high state of awareness, our yogis transcended these worlds. But, perhaps, they could not share their insight with an ignorant unaware population.
Hence, certain happenings, certain thoughts, certain ideas, that did not concur with the limited physical and mental world we had constructed, could not be divulged as facts as they would be misunderstood. For example, in those ancient days it might have been easier to refer to visitors from outer-space as gods from another planet who had landed on earth. What should have been science, filtered through as spirituality. If Neil Armstrong had landed on the moon thousands of years ago, and returned, he would have been deified as a god. Today, in our scientific world, he is merely a hero. Similarly, our Pushpak in the Ramayana would be regarded then as a celestial body or bird instead of as an aircraft flying on scientific principles.
This is not to decry spiritualism rather it is to show that it is only another side of the scientific coin. The difference lies in the perception, Which is why, if you analyse the progress made in the world, you will realise that yesterday’s spirituality is today’s science. Spirituality awakens us to the miraculousness of life, science prevents us from being blinded by the hyperboles that naturally arise from such intangible feelings that could degenerate us into mindless believers. Such is the power of the mind that what it cannot focus on, our eyes cannot see. For example, when an isolated tribe was shown a three-dimensional sketch of a box, they could not recognise it as a drawing of the real thing. All they saw were lines that made no sense to them.
Yes, it is only through arousing the mind that we can push our bodies to healthful horizons. A certain wonder, a certain sense of adventure, a certain hope of fulfilment urges us to take physical action. We can’t help but feel that the mind that developed the concept of the holy pilgrimage, for example, may have had the aerobic working of our bodies as the real base. If a saint were to merely tell his followers to walk to a distant place because it would give them strong, healthy bodies and alert minds, would they have done it? Perhaps they would have, perhaps they may not have followed his dictates.
But, if he commanded them to discover God by walking toa destination, to keep their faces raised to the sun, to reach that hallowed spot and offer prayers to an almighty-god, he would have appealed to their sense of wonder, their hope of fulfilment. That mental arousal or awe would push their bodies to undertake that long, healthful walk. Spirituality, thus, endows science with that special inspirational spark to make our bodies spring into action.
And when our bodies move steadily and vigorously, we set of the aerobic training effect that heightens our alertness. The total combined effect brought about by our mind and body working in tandem suffuses us with spirituality. Which is why we return from a pilgrimage feeling uplifted, Whatever we may believe, remember that sense of upliftment rises from within us, not without. We may attribute it to external factors, but can we ignore the internal ones? The extra oxygen that we inhale, circulates through our bloodstream, envelopes our muscle tissue enhances our health and our outlook. Scientists call it ‘oxygen – saturation of the blood’, our yogis would refer to it as ‘purifying the blood.’
Both are right. Both are talking from the same side but in their own languages Whatever the phrases used – scientific or philosophical – they are describing the same phenomenon. The point is after a long walk or a pilgrimage, we return home feeling fresh and cleansed. Yes, aerobics is a spiritual experience marching on the muscled legs of scientific principles. That is the totality of aerobics a scientific miracle gifted to us for our well-being. From the scientific point of view, it triggers off various hormones and chemical reactions that fill us with happiness. From the spiritual point of view, it restores our balance by tuning us into the natural rhythm of the universe. The end result is health, happiness and peace.
Most people miss out on this aspect of fitness because they focus purely on the cosmetics of looking slim. They view the effects of exercising like a video close-up, filling their mind with only one image – the body – beautiful. What you need to do is to internalise the entire experience and try and view the whole picture. Create a mental space so that you can enjoy the healthful sensations of freedom that vibrate through you.