In the movie The Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost has to figure out what’s at his core before he can save the day. Santa Claus explains to Jack that his own core is wonder; his awe at the magic of toys, and play, is what motivates all that he does. Jack is confused—he’s not sure what’s at his core, and he’s not sure if he should be a guardian of children. After all, they can’t even see him. By the end of the movie, Jack figures out what centers him, and when he does, he is able to be his full self and help others. I’ve been thinking about this definition of core as the new year begins, and I work to strengthen my own core.
We’re often told to strengthen our core—it is our physical as well as our psychic center. I’ve been meaning to listen to this sage advice for a while. So today I made a list and checked it twice:
- Abdominal exercises
- Eat well
That’s a no-brainer list: I’ve made it before.
Ah, but what about the rest? What about the third chakra, the seat of the self? The energy of the third chakra resides between the navel and the sternum, in the solar plexus. The core of our unseen self sits at the core of our seen self. I added to the list.
- Spiritual work
Yep, that should do it. If I do all the things on this list, I’ll have a stronger core, physically and psychically. It is interesting, this chakra work: it teaches you the difference between the ego and the self. The ego is not the core—it is the persona, the one who shows up at parties and says hello when the phone rings and asks people stuff like, “What do you think of this dress?”
Most of the time, when we think of strengthening our core, it is the ego who pipes up, “You bet! I’ll do it by this summer!” There’s nothing wrong with the ego, of course—I’m quite fond of mine—but the ego gets in the self’s way sometimes, and confuses strength with admiration.
The self is what drives you, what keeps you doing what you do.
When I think of strengthening my core from this perspective, I realize there is a flip side to this list, just as there is a shadow for every form. The flip side of strengthening the core is refusing to do that which will weaken her.
So here’s a To Not Do list:
- Sit for long hours at the computer without stretching
- Eat bad food just because
- Spend unnecessary energy on that which drains the spirit (consuming media that hurts the self rather than lifts her up, worrying, etc.)
At my core sits an artist, and what drives her is beauty.
Who is at your core? And what will you do this year to make her—or him—stronger?