I used to work for the Y.M.C.A. in a few different capacities. I always admired the triangle logo that is built from the letter Y. The three sides were meant to represent mind, spirit and body. While it was obvious that some members were chiefly concerned with improving their bodies, it was also easy to see those who came for the fellowship as well. Members would tell me that they came to work out to refresh their mind. Other members would say that they came to be with friends or to socialize. In this sense, the gym actually serviced all three areas for healthy living. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. I think we are in a bit of a spiritual crisis these days.
I just finished reading a book last night entitled “The Living Myth” by D. Stephenson Bond. He uses the term “soul” instead of spirit but it means the same thing in this context. He writes,
We know where to go, often at great expense, to develop a strong mind and body, but not a strong soul. We know how to feed the hungers of the mind with a good book and the hunger of the body with a good meal, but what is it that would feed the hunger of the soul?
Great question. How do we feed our soul or our spirit? Maintaining good relationships, I think is one way. Of course, living an upright life is another way. I know that we all try to be good people but we don’t always do good things. As such, our soul doesn’t get fed the way it should.
In his book, Bond argues that we need to find a new myth to live by these days due to the failing of organized religions. These religions don’t speak to us any more. He argues that they are old and are falling by the wayside but they need to be replaced by a new living myth, something that will indeed feed our souls.
Bond writes that,
Soul is the place that imagines. . .
To develop the soul we should have to concern ourselves with the strengthening of imagination, give ourselves over to the hard labour of restoring depleted soil, steaming the tide of erosion, cleaning out all the toxins from all the years of abuse.
This makes so much sense to me. It may partially explain this emptiness that some people feel. Religion isn’t a big part of people’s lives, for the most part, these days. The soul doesn’t get fed there. And we live in such a scientific and technical world. Our time is fractured and split. People don’t have the time to use their imaginations anymore. We plop down in front of the television, exhausted after a hard day’s work, and we don’t need our imaginations for that.
We need to use our imaginations. How do we do this? Bond writes,
We do it by active imagination. We do it through expressive therapies in the sandtray, on canvas, and in journal writing. There we may discover our internal rhythms.
Yes! We do it by writing or painting or other forms of art. Bodybuilding is an art. Playing squash, running on the treadmill or the track, swimming laps; aren’t these forms of art as well? These are all ways that we can express ourselves creatively. In doing so, we use our imaginations. I think the Y.M.C.A. has it figured out with the triangle logo. You can feed your mind, spirit, and body there. I always felt like that even as I worked there.
Finishing this book last night, also help me to understand the power of writing. I have stopped writing my journal because of how it betrayed me. I was hurt and I was determined to give it up. I see now that it actually serves a purpose. Writing is a way to use our imagination whenever we want. And that is the simplicity of it. We can write whenever and how ever we want. We do not need any special tools or equipment to do it. So go write something, right now. It will feed your soul. It doesn’t have to be much. A small comment here will suffice. Come on, give it a try.