This weekend I attended a conference hosted by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where I’m getting my certification as a health counselor. The conference included a number of amazing speakers, most notably Deepak Chopra. It was held in downtown New York, but I decided to stay in Brooklyn, since I found a UU Bed and Breakfast with a very welcoming couple who gave me tea and cookies upon arrival and provided a wonderful home and breakfast.
Among other things, my hosts and I talked a bit about church, and on Sunday morning, they said, “We’d invite you to go to services with us, except that you’ll be at the conference. But it sounds like that will be another form of church.”
“Yes, it will,” I agreed.
The first few sessions on Sunday provided great information and reminded me how important this is. But it was when a yoga instructor came up and got us moving that I reflected anew about how what I’m doing is a ministry.
As we went through the exercises - waving our arms, circling our hips, etc. - she asked us to repeat after her. “Peace. Love. Happiness. Bring it. Rock on!” And then, “Holy. Holy. Healthy. Healthy. Holy, healthy, holy, healthy.”
The energy in the room brought tears to my eyes, remembering how the work we are doing - helping others learn how to heal themselves to discover their own optimal health - truly is holy, that we were engaged in a sacred and spiritual practice.
Deepak Chopra’s wonderful talk reinforced this. It ended with a meditation where we focused on moments that brought us great joy, great love, where we felt compassion for another, and finally when we felt equanimity and peace. He said those are the moments that we should strive to live for, and make them more present in our lives.
The images that came to mind for me were largely entwined with my health. When I was struggling with my body image and weight, I couldn’t let that go long enough to experience true joy, love felt conditional, I couldn’t muster compassion for myself and only sometimes for others, and I was too tormented to experience peace.
Which is why I consider this work a ministry. If I can help others learn to find joy, open their hearts to love, bring a sense of compassion to their interactions with themselves and others, and allow them to feel peace - that, to me, is sacred. And I couldn’t be happier to be on the path that will allow me to share this sense of holy healthiness with others.