stock photoIt’s next to impossible to be prepared for the unexpected.  Aside from hocking the family jewels to pay for insurance, all we can do is live right, stick with our values, and do whatever necessary to be healthy.  That is, until the unexpected happens.  I’m going to share something for two important reasons.  I’ll get to those later.

Even though I’m well into my seventh decade of life it still came as a shock that I have degenerative disk disease.  Sounds fancy, but actually it afflicts a huge number of people and may be contributing to the opioid crisis.  I wondered why my back and hips hurt when I walked long distances lately.  X-rays revealed that my lowest disk (Lumber #1) is compromised, shrunken from years of use and abuse (heavy gardening, I suspect).  Other disks are slowly shrinking as well.  My vertebrae are pinching nerves I never knew I had.

Anti-inflammatory medicine helps, that is until the pills eat a hole in my stomach. Muscle relaxants help only in extreme pain; otherwise they put me to sleep.  Without the meds I feel as if I’m dealing with a double-hernia as pain radiates all around my pelvic area.  Thanks to physical therapy and the right chiropractor, I’m now feeling much better, two months into this discovery.  My gym routine has changed to lots of stretching and the recumbent bike (the treadmill is out for now).

Here are the two reasons I’m telling you this. The first is to warn you to strengthen your core muscles.  Your core literally holds you upright, keeps you erect, and protects the rest of your body.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about look it up on the internet… and get off the couch and away from the phone!

The other reason I’m warning you is that we have a much more important second core.  It is the core of our deepest identity.  Some people call this core the “soul” or the “spirit.”  I’m just call it “you” or “me.”  Who we are at our deepest reality needs as much, if not more, exercise than our abdominal core.

  • You exercise your spiritual core by feeding it messages that build up the truth of who you really are as whole, complete, and unconditionally loved.
  • You strengthen your spiritual core by replacing the idea of failure with the idea that you can always learn something new from your experiences.
  • You build your core by surrounding yourselves with people who have high values and principles, who treat others with love and respect, who believe that service to humanity and to the earth are top priorities.
  • You develop your spiritual core when you embrace even your dark sides in a loving way, free of judgment and shame.

When your spiritual core is weak, so will be your character, your principles, and your ability to respond to life’s challenges. You will be a burden to others and probably do a lot of complaining, thinking that you “deserve” better. In short, you will be a pain in the A–!

Yet when your spiritual core is strong, you will address personal and community challenges with courage and amazing inner fortitude.  You will be a leader for yourself and others and point the way to humane love and unselfish service.  You will bring justice to those in need and transform your world.  So get going with those core exercises!

© Copyright Michael Parise 2018

Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
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