Tag Archives: motivation

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.

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STOP – and Destress in 30 seconds

3 Mar

You KNOW the value and benefits of meditation and relaxation but you’re still having trouble setting aside time for it.

Consider breaking your goal down into an even smaller piece.

Can you give 30 seconds?

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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

DOUBT YOUR DOUBTS

2 Feb

That’s what my yoga teacher says all the time. Doubt your doubts.

The Zen proverb rings true for me but I want to pack a little more around these big, lofty thoughts. Whenever a good idea comes with more specifics, it is sometimes easier to walk away with the goodies.

First, we need to doubt our beliefs. Beliefs are just that – beliefs. Some can be proven. Some of those same proven beliefs can be unproven by someone else. That can either be unsettling to you or liberating. Since we get to choose how to respond to everything, I choose to be liberated by the fact that there can be multiple truths. Isn’t that really part of our purpose here on this planet, to seek our truth?

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MY FITNESS PHOTOS FOR AGE 64

27 Jan

Yesterday’s post explains my plans for and reasons for posting these fitness photos on my birthday.

 

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I’LL BE 64 YEARS OLD TOMORROW!

26 Jan

Tomorrow I am beginning an exciting adventure. It’s my birthday and the starting point for a new plan.

Throughout my whole life I’ve always pictured myself as healthy and strong. I’ve also always assumed that I’d live to at least age 100. When you are younger it’s easy to make big statements about what you’re “going” to do! But, as the years of my life pass, I’ve really had to take stock. I’ve had to decide what actions need to accompany my big statements.

One action I’ve decided on is to publicly post fitness photos of myself annually. It will be kind of like a birthday gift to me. As I explained in a previous post, I’ve noticed that one group of people who post such photos are those who are committed to maintaining their fitness over the long haul.

I’m officially joining that group tomorrow.

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NEED SOME EXERCISE MOTIVATION?

16 Jan

Maybe an unusual exercise partner might help?

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PORTION CONTROL OR VOLUMETRICS OR BOTH?

4 Jan

Fitness always includes choosing to eat healthy. But, there are different ideas about what and how much to eat.

When it comes to the amount of food to eat, you can focus on portion sizes, you can follow the volumetrics approach or do a combination of both!

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FITNESS QUOTE 1/2/2013

2 Jan

Success is sweet, but it usually has the scent of sweat about it.

– anonymous

FIRST…. PREPARING FOR SUCCESSFUL 2013 RESOLUTIONS

27 Dec

Resolutions can reflect our greatest hopes. They can be a description our most intimate dreams. They can be our well thought out plans. If nurtured like a beautiful flower, all this can grow into happy, healthy and long lives! Hopes and dreams backed by action undeniably enrich and enhance life. But unfulfilled hopes, dreams and plans can harm self-esteem and confidence which creates disappointment and real pain. So, before jumping into declaring your 2013 resolutions, let’s poke around at what we can do and / or think about first in order to prepare for real success. That way, when 2014 arrives we will be extremely satisfied with our 2013 results and ourselves. That way, on January 1, 2014 we will be very happy with life and enthused about 2015 and beyond!

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