How To Develop Spiritual Muscle

Spiritual Muscle

People think I have a large life. My energy commands a room, but it’s not intentional. In fact, sometimes I feel I have two personalities. 

My exterior confidence was trained through directing, leading and teaching large groups of people as a music educator, performing musician, and my role as a Buddhist facilitator. When I’ve had the opportunity to lead, there was no room for ego or attention to myself. There was a task to be done. 

I’ve honed a skill to focus on the task at hand without regard to how I feel. I appreciate this because it enabled me to accomplish a lot as a teacher, chorus conductor, faith leader and performing musician. It allowed me to see beyond myself and do more than I would have otherwise envisioned had I stopped to ponder my capability.


On the flip side, my alter-ego is debilitatingly shy and constantly fighting doubt. Through sheer life experience and in particular debt to my SGI-USA Buddhist philosophy, I’ve managed to function well beyond this insecurity.

But it attacks me relentlessly when least expected with insomnia. Even when I thought I’d confronted my inner demons, fear and doubt insidiously assault my thoughts until the wee hours of morning.

I combat it with my intellect, of course. I speak to myself with a voice of calmness about reality and fool-proof strategies to turn away my inner demons. I try distracting myself with reading, deep breathing and imagery of relaxed, happy visions. I chant my Buddhist mantra while attempting to empty the barrage of negativity swirling in my brain. I get out of bed and stretch. I write my thoughts in my journal and fight the battle until 3am, despite exhaustion. Finally, I drift off for about three hours of rest.

In the morning it all seems perfectly stupid. In the light of day, my evening struggle seems like a mirage. Except that I feel depleted for two days afterwards.


This darkness has beat at my inner doors my entire life. I’ve dramatically lessened the effects of it. It used to cause such stomach-upset agony I couldn’t function beyond bed-rest. It caused me to develop respiratory issues. I had no stamina against this demon. I continued relentlessly attacking it from the inside out with my determined prayer—and forged directly through it until I gained strength over it.

I no longer have those anxiety attacks that shook my whole body with nausea or stomach pain. I no longer get respiratory illness or stage fright. I have no qualms about public speaking, performing, or facilitating. I don’t worry about what people think of me anymore.

But when I’m striving to reach a personal goal, or break through to a new level of success in any aspect of my life, my doubts rear their ugliness to challenge me.  That’s how I know I’m on the right track.


My Buddhist practice confirms this is an obvious sign of my inner growth; I’m pushing myself beyond comfort and growing my capacity larger than before. There’s resistance so I may develop spiritual muscle. This most powerful opponent enables me to forge my full potential. Anything easy would not warrant a victory celebration.

I’m on to these twin evils (fear and doubt); They appear so I may open the path to my future with my true essence—my inner power fueled by belief in the human heart. My heart. I wage on—with a resolute vow to never give up until I win absolute victory. I know it is a test of my faith.  A chance for me to see how my determined prayer—starting from the inner realm—manifests in tangible, conspicuous external proof, based on the interconnectedness of life.  

I just have to do the inner work first. Take that, doubt and fear. Take THAT.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s