Archive | support group RSS feed for this section

THE SPIRITUALITY OF FITNESS

28 Dec

Last year we started a fitness support group at our church. Many people welcomed the idea and talked about their desire to become more fit. Still, many people found it difficult to maintain the motivation to participate regularly. That’s not a new challenge for a fitness group and we wanted to see if we could find solutions that would be helpful. Since being connected to our church community, I thought that it might helpful if people could see the connection between fitness and their spiritual goals.  But, honestly, the words to explain that connection didn’t come to me right away.

Since then my broader study of yoga has helped. Previously I knew that yoga was a specific spiritual practice in itself. Now, it’s a little clearer to me that any fitness program is or can become a spiritual practice.

The key to this understanding came from Pandit Rajmani Tigunait’s book Freedom From Fear where he explains:

  • “Life is inherently sacred.
  • There is a clear and definite order to the world you live in.
  • By honoring your place in it – your individual dharma (purpose) – you honor and, in the process, support universal dharma (life force of nature).
  • Since you affect the larger dharma through your actions, thoughts and words, nothing is more important than securing and establishing your highest state of well-being so that you can be more completely in tune with this intelligence.”

I don’t think it’s easy to make the leap from these words to fitness as spirituality so let’s try to apply these thoughts one at a time.

The birth of a child, a beautiful piece of art or music, a breathtaking garden or a mountaintop view, all these things represent easily identified sacred symbols of life. But, what about the triumphant healing of a physically or emotionally disabled person who was never expected to walk, talk, or contribute? What about the inspirational people who come out of dark places in life and transform their lives so all their energies now go towards helping the disadvantaged or being amazingly dedicated parents and community members? It is so easy to get caught up in our daily experience of life that we forget that WE ARE that amazing thing called sacred life. Just as awe inspiring as an understanding of the details of astronomy or physics or botany is, so are we amazing and awe inspiring sacred life. From the simple healing of a scratch to the intricacies of how our brain functions, our physical being is astonishing and also breathtaking. To honor our bodies is to manifest an understanding of the sacredness of life itself.

And as we explore this notion of the sacredness of our physical being, the cause and effect of how we care for ourselves becomes clearer. There is an abundance of information about the value of exercise and healthy eating. It cures disease. It lengthens lifetimes. It increases capacity to live fully. It makes people happier. We are part of this clear and definite order in the world. We are not only part of that order but we influence it. We influence it by impacting our own experience with life but in other ways also.

Let’s say that your individual purpose (dharma) was to write and that your writing could help some people meet a need they have. If these others’ needs are met, they are then more able to access their life force to meet their individual purpose which all contriubtes to the universal dharma. But, if your health didn’t allow you to pursue that writing, the order in the world could be sadly interrupted.

It’s not just the writing that would be missing. There is more.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is, of course, a masterful piece of music. But knowing that it was composed by someone who couldn’t hear his own creation makes it even more significant. As we feel the music, we also experience the greatness of Beethoven’s spirit as he followed his individual purpose which was and still is connected to us all. Many have been moved by his music and by his spirit.

I think it’s hard to really realize the impact that we all have. Recently I met with a previously incarcerated man that I supported as part of the non-profit that I founded years ago. He has been out of prison for almost ten years and is doing fantastic. He has held down an excellent job in the optometry field for all those ten years. He is now head of the lab where he works and his lab is recognized as award winning in his field! He recently completed barber school and his new barbering business is taking off like crazy! He now owns his own home. My heart soars with joy for him. It also is overwhelmed with humility when he repeats over and over how important a role I personally played when I encouraged and supported his personal journey to this new life ten years ago.

But there is more that I never really understood completely until I met his two young sons in person. His boys are 8 and 13. And, they are very impressive. The 13 year old got accepted in an academy that specializes in science and supports children with higher educational goals and capacities. This boy is beginning to learn about photography. They both are drummers and athletes. They both are very respectful and a pleasure to be around. After meeting them I could see and feel how we all affect the larger dharma. I watched and listened as my friend spoke to his sons; sometimes using something in our conversation to throw in a brief math challenge for his youngest son, sometimes providing them with bits of fatherly wisdom and constantly reminding them how important they are to him. As he talked to me in their presence, I witnessed his awareness of how everything they experience influences his two boys. They both know that he loves them very, very much. If I am to belief that I did play a major role in helping his find his way as he says, I can also see how that is also reflected in these two exceptional young men. I can see and experience the way that all is connected, even a decade later. One thought, decision, and action influences the next which influences the next and then the next.

There is no getting away from the impact of how being true to our best selves (our individual dharma) contributes to the greater good in specific and in general ways. We are all connected and we all matter.

So, when we are inspired by world class athletes, we don’t just admire their abilities and their talents. We also feel inspired by the force of will that they used to develop those skills and abilities. As we cheer them on, we are also cheering on all other individual efforts to become everything that we can become.

The spirituality of fitness means making choices to maintain our physical health while maintaining our awareness on all the broader potential positive impacts for those choices. It is a commitment to stay on the path to becoming our best selves – in all ways.

MEET ME AT THE GYM

20 Aug

I think it’s pretty safe to say that consistency is possibly the hardest part of any fitness program. This is true even for those of us who know the importance of consistent exercise. Still, it’s hard.

Sometimes working on a goal can be easier when you get support from others. The encouragement is nice but often it’s the accountability that really motivates. If someone is counting on you to show up somewhere or to do something at a certain time, it’s a lot harder to blow it off! Yes?

So, here’s an idea anyone can try to help with that. If you are already part of a fitness group, it’s very easy to implement this idea. If not, just grab a couple of friends who are already into fitness or who have expressed a desire to start. These people will be your group.

Everyone creates a list of the gym classes they attend now or want to attend regularly. If someone doesn’t belong to a gym or doesn’t like to go to gyms, they list the activities that they do. For example, maybe someone bicycles two miles every Monday and jogs for 15 minutes on Wednesday and does Tai Chi in the park on Saturday. Or maybe some people might do weight training at the gym Tuesday evening and a Zumba DVD at home on Thursday morning. Each list needs to include the person’s name and the details of each activity they do (i.e. what, where, when). These lists are posted on the BADASS REVOLUTION Facebook group for others to see.

If you want to work out with a buddy, you know when and where to meet them! As schedules change, just update your list.

It’s simple!

THE BADASS REVOLUTION IS ON!

20 Aug

Yes, the BADASS REVOLUTION is on! Ok, I admit, I’m a little excited. It’s actually scheduled to start September 1, 2013.

“But, what is it?” you say.

It is group that supports everyone‘s efforts to bring their badass self closer and closer towards their most healthy self. Yup, it’s how we’re all going to reach Fitness Beyond Expectations.

“But, but, but…” you say.

No worries. This isn’t one of those groups of people who are already the fittest of the fit! Rather, it is for people of ALL fitness levels and abilities.

“Every everyone can join?” you say.

You got me again! Only people who meet these two requirements can join:

First, you need to be able to say BADASS and acknowledge that somewhere inside you there is some BADASSNESS upon which you can draw! You’ll bring that attitude to the workouts.

And, you need to commit to seriously attempt spending at least 20 minutes per day doing the Daily BADASS Workout.

That’s it!

Again, anyone can choose to be a BADASS REVOLUTIONIST.

There are a couple of different ways you can participate.

If you don’t live within driving distance of Marysville, Washington, starting September 1st, you can get everything you need from the Fitness Beyond Expectation Facebook page AND the BADASS REVOLUTION Facebook group. The daily workout information and demo videos will be available at the Facebook group. If you want to check out the BADASS REVOLUTION, join the Facebook Fitness Beyond Expectations page and the BADASS REVOLUTION group. We’ll give you more details there.

If you do live within driving distance of Marysville, Washington, you can join the Facebook page and group too. And, if you’d like, you can also come to our twice monthly meetings where we will share progress during brag time, practice the exercises planned for the upcoming two weeks and highlight some of the many inspirational BADASS REVOLUTIONISTS!

We look forward to seeing you on Facebook! Wishing your BADASS self the best!

The Robert Sturman photo above is the inspiration for the BADASS REVOLUTION. She is Tao Porchon-Lynch a 95 year old yoga instructor and an amazing BADASS!

ONE WOMAN’S INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEY TO HEALTH – TANYA RICKARD

10 Apr

It is with great pleasure that I can share this interview of Tanya Rickard with you. How we met seems rather unremarkable. We’re in the same yoga class and we both prefer the right front corner of the room. For quite a while we did yoga right next to each other without much conversation. I’m so glad that we eventually had a chance to get to know each other better because this unremarkable meeting turned out to be with a very remarkable woman.

Five years ago Tanya weighed over 300 pounds and now she weighs a healthy 150 pounds. She has succeeded at transforming her life in ways that are truly inspiring. The changes she embraced are not only physical but also emotional and spiritual. She successfully crafted a brand new and very healthy self-image which directs her journey today! Continue reading

INSPIRATION OR INTIMIDATION? Getting Started With Exercise

12 Feb

The woman in the picture is Ernestine Shepherd and she’s my hero!

How old do you think she is? Continue reading

A CHECKLIST TO HELP YOU START A FITNESS SUPPORT GROUP

9 Jan

DEFINTION OF FITNESS SUPPORT GROUP

A support group is a gathering of people who share a common health concern or interest. A fitness support group focuses on helping its members achieve their fitness goals which typically include physical, emotional and mental aspects. Formats for support groups can vary. They can include in-person meeting, online sharing and / or telephone support.

Continue reading

Radical Discipleship

A Joint Project of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries and Word & World

Jeni McMillan

thinking about creating

Great Middle Way

No Secrets - No Sides

Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

Glasnost

NLU Delhi's Independent Student Newspaper

Sermons in Stones

Finding the sacred everywhere. Thoughts on religion, art, books, politics, philosophy, and life in general from a Unitarian Universalist minister.

Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio

Writings on the arts of social change by Ricardo Levins Morales

Yoga Moods

Yoga for all your moods

zakirnaikaqeedah

Just another WordPress.com site

om gam yoga

Melbourne yoga instruction by Sophie Langley

Buy Nothing Project

Buy Nothing, Give Freely, Share Creatively

porschemama

The (mostly) German car-loving Mama's blog

bitchin yoga

observations and discriminations

A Full Day

Love-infused words on faith, sports and social justice from a black male Unitarian Universalist

revehstevens

A great WordPress.com site

The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener

A Gardener for all Gardeners

Miss Strong, LLC

Raw. Real. Relatable.