The other morning, I woke up, and it hurt. My arms hurt, my calf muscles hurt.
Hurting was a good thing though. I’d spent the previous day’s karate class working pretty hard, but at my private lesson after class, I said to my instructor, “you know, I think I’m doing something strange when I punch – can we work on that?”
And so we did – 30 minutes of punching over and over again, with plenty of constructive criticism. One thing my instructor points out is that as you become stronger, you have to go back and refine the things you learn in the beginning – a few tweaks here for more power, a tweak there to your form so that the next move works better – but that needing to make those refinements is a good thing, because it shows that your technique and endurance are improving enough that form matters.
I’ve been taking karate classes for about 2 1/2 years, minus a break for my health before and after giving birth to my son. I’ve earned 4 belts in that time – I’m slow on that front, but I’m also balancing enough things that I only make it to class one day a week, so that’s ok. Most of the time, I come out of class tired and hungry but otherwise unfazed. Those first few months, sure, I hurt after every class. But now? Now my muscles are used to doing these things.
So the soreness was a surprise – a welcome surprise, really, because it means that I did good work, and learned to use muscles in a way they don’t normally get used. Knowing that I’m improving, that I’m slowly but surely getting to the point of being physically able to do things I never dreamed of doing….that’s good for the soul.
I look around though, and I see the same thing in the spiritual and magickal practices of many people. Most of the time, we don’t stretch our muscles. We do the same things over and over, and end up in a bit of a rut. And while there’s something to be said for daily practice, I have to wonder if anyone else thinks about how to perfect that practice, how to stretch a bit or expand on it. Even non-daily practice, we do what we’re comfortable with after a while, rather than trying something new or different.
My intent for this year: stretch, metaphysically speaking. Do something new, something different, something unexpected.
And while I’m at it, maybe you should look around and consider doing a little metaphysical stretching of your own.