0024 – Getting Into Shape Spiritually

Mirrors at a flea market in Berlin, July 2023

Getting in shape doesn’t mean adhering to an external ideal but rather, aligning closer to what your body seeks. There are plenty of examples of body dysmorphia manifesting in roided up gym rats and anorexia, both fairly life threatening. This is not Getting In Shape, this is bending too far in a way that is untrue. I think of Olympic athletes and they come in all shapes and sizes depending on what they wish their body to do. Weight lifters carry more fat, swimmers are broad yet lean and runners are sticks. They have attuned their body for what they require of it.

On a more manageable, civilian scale I see people who are also different shapes and sizes but what matters, I think is how they exist in their bodies. Do they move comfortably? Does their build accentuate their natural features? I’ve always maintained that photography is a lie because true beauty exists in movement. Photography is terribly flattening, it’s the most unreal of the arts since it is not created but rather operated by people, yet it makes the strongest claim on objectivity. It’s not a human interpretation of reality, it’s a framing of a machine interpretation. I think this has warped the understanding of what ‘being in shape’ is. 

I think one has to understand what their ideal for themselves is, ignoring the outer world. This is hard but we were made to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge and leave Eden. Being human is about not knowing, then knowing then learning how to deal with that knowledge for our own use. 

Just as there’s a physical understanding of Getting Into Shape, I believe that there is a psychological understanding too. People who are In Shape psychologically are able to handle themselves well in different circumstances. Just as someone who is In Shape physically can use their body for what they need: carrying stuff, walking around, playing, someone who is psychologically In Shape can handle different emotional states easily, tune in with themselves and others and carry the body in difficult times. Someone can look so beautiful because their innate, inner beauty is allowed to be expressed through their body and someone can express themselves beautifully because they’ve taken care of their mind in such a way that it shows in their very own unique way. 

You can tell when people aren’t in shape physically when they struggle to do things they want to do, basic things. Similarly you can tell when someone isn’t in shape mentally when they act against themselves and are mean to others. They struggle with doing the basics. 

They obviously play into each other. Taking care of one’s body is taking care of one’s mind and vice versa. If you see someone in very good shape, there’s a lot of effort that went into that. Sure, people can just be born pretty but that wears out over time and if you don’t eat well, move well and sleep well you’re going to drift out of shape. I think people can be charming for a few minutes but it doesn’t take long before one sees through any mask. I feel like we deluded by ourselves most of all, seeing someone isn’t hard if we’re able to see past ourselves. “We don’t see others as themselves but as we are” etc etc. 

I remember I was at an office once and we were strongly encouraged to have morning coffees together as team building. I remember sitting next to two guys, not to different to me in age, maybe four years older, maximum. They sat back in their chairs and rested their coffee cups on their bellies. I assumed it would probably feel good, that warm cup on that belly, so close to one’s vital organs. I also had to hold myself back from having a seizure. Maybe this contradicts what I wrote before, but at the same time I don’t think so. To me, the acceptance of a bad situation is the worst part. I don’t mind things being bad, that’s out of our control sometimes (most of the time) but letting it be is just very strange to me.

I really hope that in the same way that I have a revulsion against physical stagnation, I would have a revulsion against psychological stagnation. To be bent of out shape and to not heed the signals means to turn the reception off, to lose touch of with yourself. If I got so out of shape that walking up the hill to my flat would put me out of breath, I would heavily consider my choices in life. If I was constantly mean to those around me and alienating them, I sincerely hope that I would consider that too. It’s just not very beautiful, is it?

There’s a lot of truth in feeling, probably the most truth. The thing is to see the patterns in the long term. There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days but if you’re just having long streaks of bad days, try to think about it, try to talk about it. There’s something there. The thing with physical beauty is that it is easily conveyable with images. This doesn’t mean it’s accurately conveyed, it’s just easily conveyed. Psychological beauty or “getting in shape”ness is much harder, maybe that’s why we have art or writing or other forms of expression. I would say psychological beauty lies in the effects of the person, their friends, their partners, the way they treat people and the way people treat them. Yes, I think that’s it. Getting in shape both ways is about expression. Can you move well, can you be well? Can you express yourself physically without running out of steam and can you express yourself mentally without being mean. Both involve you getting to a point where you’re not in your own way. Trim the fat and build the muscle. It takes time.

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