Yesterday (actually, most of this past week) I had many, what I believe to be, "spiritual" experiences. What I mean by that is I used my physical-ness to connect to and reveal the things that I feel embody (epitomize) my spiritual-ness.

I know, I know, this all sounds SO esoteric and "New Age-y"....but before you roll your eyes and chalk my talk up to being a bunch of junk, please know that what I'm talking about is older than the hills themselves.

We're here to fully experience bothI know that the word "spiritual" can sound really vague, even for those of us who feel a perpetual inner tug to experience this realm. Although many might think that being spiritual is a choice, it's not. We are spiritual beings living a human existence and we're here to fully experience both. But that doesn't mean we will because we have lots of choices.

That's the game!

The goal of the "game," for lack of a more visually expressive word, is to connect these two realms (the physical and the spiritual) with our words (both inner and outer) and deeds. You see, both realms need each other to be experienced (in an inner and outer way). If this sounds easy, it's not, but it does get more automatic (thus authentic), after a while.

It's a minute to minute thing... and I mean that literally. Do we choose to stay fixed in our physical-ness; focused on our personal desires, paralyzed by our fears and/or fixated on how others perceive us? Or will we choose to stay stagnant, suspended in the pursuit of enlightenment by sitting on a rock (or a meditation cushion) all day contemplating "what it is all about," coming up with some private interpretations without making the commitment to bring beneficial insights into everyday, physical life? We could also choose to declare that we've found "the way" and then judge others harshly because their personal protocols seem to contradict our own.

Disconnection is always joylessAll of these choices create scenarios that cause suffering (to ourselves and to others) because they propel the stance that we are all separate from one another. "This is mine. That is yours. Go over there until I feel safe enough (with what's mine) to stand next to you and attempt to co-exist."

Disconnection is always joyless.

As spiritual beings, we're here to exude our essence, which is joy. And, as human beings, in order to do this, we need to use our physicality. That's the way for the human-spiritual connection to be made so we can experience wholeness (which translates as "the sensation of fulfillment").

Ok, now that's another lofty word, "Joy," that's too often misunderstood, conjuring stereotypically happy affects (smiling, laughing out loud, having no room for the feeling of (or appreciation of) sadness). But the truth is that joy usually has both a sad and glad component... Many times, it's the sad part that provides the treasure that conceals the glad part, just waiting to be revealed and experienced as joy. So, you could say that sad and glad need each other— think of them as two sides of one coin. (Yes, I will admit that on some days the coin, when laying sad-side-up, feels as big as a boulder... requiring incredible muscle and determination to lift and turn over... But, if it's any consolation, I've personally found that the weight of the coin is in direct proportion to how much joy sits waiting underneath!)

I know, this all still sounds "out there"... not grab-able or huggable. So, in hopes of helping you to connect to your spiritual core, I thought I would share with you, in concrete physical terms, how this all looks and feels to me, through my own day to day human experiences, starting with this past week.

In this one week, I taught cooking to incarcerated adolescent girls on Rikers Island (which takes me several days to prepare for), I've baked breads (both sweet and savory) for a friend to tote to her husband (a way-too-young man) who's dying in a hospice hospital (for something that could have been totally prevented) and I brought chopped liver and cinnamon babka (NOT to be eaten together!) to my weekly visit with an 89 year old woman, living in an assisted living facility in the Bronx, who lost her husband a year ago at 95 (his age was the good part) from Alzheimer's disease (that's the bad part) and she is now virtually alone in the world (the very sad part).

So, you might say, "what a sad week!" Working with young adults who've been locked up for breaking the law, a family shattered by an avoidable illness and an elderly woman whose mind is so sharp that she's been left fully lucid to her potentially lethal condition; loneliness. But, guess what? I had the best week!... Not because I was laughing all the time (or hardly any of the time). And don't think I wasn't constantly bleary-eyed from exhaustion, because I was (actually, I still am...). But, because I chose to utilize my physical abilities to connect me to my spiritual essence (which is, in all humans, a core of basic goodness), as a result, as I reflect back on my week, I feel a sense of personal accomplishment and interpersonal connectedness, which makes me glad in an almost indescribable way— and in a way that makes it a bit easier to deal with the other challenges in my life.

So, this is my way to become a "generator" of joy, not just for myself but also for others. And that, to me, is a very important part of the on-going process of living a spiritual existence in a human's body.