I’ve been thinking lately. Dangerous, I know. I’ve also been hitting the gym.
No bootcamp or insanity. Just nearly daily showing up for some aerobic work and some light weights. Fitness walking with my husband, which is a real challenge, because for every one of his steps, I need to take like, three. But we’re learning how to adjust for each other. It’s fun.
Why am I do this? Because it really has been hitting me how much it seems that we tend to treat the body as if it was just a convenient vessel for toting our brains around. But, the body is so much more and sometimes, it can feel like so much less. When we are in even basic shape or fundamentally fit, the body is our gateway to so much enjoyment in life. It just makes doing everything easier and more pleasurable, from getting out of bed in the morning to being with friends and family, even going to work! But when the body is out of shape, unfit, it affects everything we do in the negative. Everything becomes physically harder and more tiring. In this state, our mind can not function well either, because the un-ease of te body pulls the mind down, constantly pestering it with a pantheon of troubles and pains.
Of course, the mind screams at us then, suffering the terrible injustice of physical suffering. And we tend to identify with our physical suffering, don’t we? We become our un-ease or dis-ease. We say things like, “My arthritis, my diabetes, my aching back,” and so on. And that, changes us from merely having some physical discomfort to full-on suffering.
Alas. So what’s a poor body to do?
A couple of things maybe. How about some modest exercise and meditation?
Through mindful attention to the body we can rediscover that the body can be our friend again. We need to proceed, step by step and we need to have a goal. I believe in gentle challenge, reasonable goals that slowly take us towards our destination. While in meditation, we let go of ideas about getting anywhere, because what we need is actually already right here inside us, with getting the body fit (as with other sorts of goals) it helps to know where you want to go.
How you define that is up to you. Maybe you want to climb the stairs without strain and feeling winded. Maybe you want to lose weight. I’d suggest that even if you think you want to lose a lot of weight that you start by breaking your big goal down into smaller, manageable goals so you can see, measure, know your gradual success. It’s not wrong to aim high, but realize that even Olympic athletes get to such levels of achievement through years of steady, determined application of effort of the body and mind.
And where does meditation fit in all this? Very simple, a little meditation helps you let go of stress by giving you a chance to stop thinking all those stressful thoughts, worries and obsessions. It’s also a lot easier to let your mind go quiet after some physical activity. Just sit and breathe. Try to just be aware of the feelings of the body, just as they are. Sensations that will come and go. Try to breathe and observe the sensations without any judgement of like or don’t like. See if you can resist the urge to scratch every itch. Wiggle in place. When I first started to meditate, I felt awfully itchy suddenly. No sudden bug attack, only the mind wanting to distract me from what I was doing.
With this, as with the physical activity, start small. Try one minute. Then two. Go for three if you are up to it. Step by step. Add time as you feel comfortable.
So, be patient. Be determined. Set a schedule for your exercise and meditation plan. Then, go for it. Step by step. Take action and as the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.
Let me know how it’s going? What works for you? How do you keep moving toward your goals?
And if you think you need some help, give me a shout. I’m glad to help. You can try a group class if you like or a private or semi-private training for your body and your mind.
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