Organic Spirituality 2: Our Physical Well-being
by: Gordon Wayne
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Organic spirituality is a natural approach to understanding the human spirit and spiritual development, and Abraham Maslow offers the most natural approach, a biological strategy. Maslow’s hierarch of biological needs is a sequential progression through every organism’s basic biological requirements: physical, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Although the latter needs have spiritual problems, the former needs give us an excellent starting point for our journey toward organic spirituality.
Therefore, organic spirituality begins with satisfying our most fundamental physical needs such as the basic biological requirement for air, water, food, mobility, and sleep. After all, nobody can chant without air, nobody can sing without water, nobody can meditate without food, nobody can dance without food, and nobody can study without sleep. Unless we satisfy our elementary physical requirements, we cannot truly develop our spirituality so we should begin by learning about the most important biological requirements.
Since we humans cannot survive longer than a few minutes without air, we should learn the fundamentals of human respiration such as normal respiration and optimal breathing techniques. For those seeking greater understanding, they can learn about the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, the function of lungs, heart, vessels, and blood. For nonprofessionals, perhaps the best knowledge is a functional understanding of the symptoms of respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and the best professionals to consult when problems arise. A little practical knowledge about normal human respiration may help us improve our respiration and could help us avoid unnecessary respiratory problems.
No mortal can survive longer than a few days without water or longer than a month without food so we should learn something about hydration and sustenance. We could learn about vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, enzymes, deficiencies, symptoms, sources, digestion, ingestion, excretion, organs, food groups, etcetera, etcetera. Since the entire subject is so extensive, perhaps the smartest strategy for the average people is learning about resources such as libraries, encyclopedias, clinics, etcetera.
While we are studying nutrition, we could investigate human anatomy and kinetics because our bodies are naturally mobile. Therefore, a little knowledge about our spine, arms, legs, bones, muscles, about walking, running, jumping, swimming, etcetera might help us maintain a healthy body. After investigating the fundamentals, we can investigate the challenges associated with aging, about exercise programs for maintaining optimal mobility throughout our senior years, and about common geriatric injuries and treatments.
After exercising, we could learn about the nocturnal habit of sleeping because insufficient sleep can induce serious physical, psychological, and intellectual problems. To avoid these problems, we should learn to recognize the symptoms of insufficient sleep, the most common causes, effective treatments, and popular techniques for inducing relaxation. We could also learn about sleep disorders, specifically the physical, psychological, and intellectual symptoms of each disorder, and the best therapies and clinics for treating each disorder.
Initially, some may think that we must achieve superhuman physical status but this is neither necessary nor prudent for organic spirituality. Steven Hawkins proves that an imperfect body does not impair one’s psychological, intellectual, and spiritual development. Those confined to wheel chairs, missing limbs, or paraplegic also show that physical imperfections will not impair our psychological, intellectual, and spiritual development. Anybody with potentially lethal medical conditions such as diabetes or allergies can develop their spirituality despite their physical circumstances. These people learn to live with their physical circumstances, which is precisely what we must do to progress along the path to organic spirituality whether we are athletes or receptionists.
To progress along the path of organic spirituality, we only need to satisfy our physical needs such that our basic physical needs are not demanding every second and calory. If we are not gasping for air with every breath, then we are 5% of the way toward our spiritual objective; if we are not expending every calory searching for the next calory, then we are 10% of the way toward our objective of organic spirituality; if we are not wandering about like zombies due to sleeplessness, then we are probably 15% of the way toward organic spirituality; if we have thirty minutes to contemplate something beside simply surviving another day, then we are 20% of the way toward our spiritual objective. With our basic physical requirements fulfilled, we can progress to the second stage of Maslow’s hierarchy and our theory of organic spirituality.