Just Practice

As  a personal trainer I often admonish my clients to put their mind into their muscles when they engage in strength training activities. It is my fervent belief that we train our muscles best when we practice putting our mind on feeling what our muscles are doing throughout each exercise repetition.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. Aristotle

When it comes to strength, muscles or otherwise, I believe our mind is our most potent, powerful agent and ally for change in our physical body and in our life. What we think  (believe) has the potential to germinate the seeds of well-being or dis-ease. With every thought, with every belief, we grow ourselves stronger, larger. It’s just that simple.  If you want to get better at anything, then your betterment is determinant upon your practice of doing.

Your brain reflects the way that you think throughout your life. You kind of shape it by your thoughts and your behaviors. If you play violin for eight hours a day, then the parts of the brain responsible for helping you to play the violin will get larger. If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day then those parts of the brain are going to get larger and other parts of the brain will deteriorate. Jo Marchant

Your brain is like a muscle that responds (grows) by the thoughts you put into it from your mind. Your mind is superior to your brain. Your mind (your soul, your personality, your will) feeds and directs your physical brain. Conscious and subconscious thoughts  bathe your brain with input (thought for food…food for thought) 24/7. Check your thought diet! Are you consciously or unconsciously feeding your brain junk food? Junk thoughts?

If you think you are in danger, your brain sets into motion your fight or flight response. Your breathing respirations increase as does your blood pressure; all systems are on high alert, ready for action. Conversely, if you think you are in safety, your parasympathetic pathways are engaged, and your body is calmed, your breathing is slower and deeper and your blood pressure returns to normal. Your brain needs your mind to direct its resources in accordance to your body’s needs. Your mind drives your body. Have you checked whose in charge lately?

The mind is willing, but the body is weak.

Whatever virtue, trait or ability you want to improve or enlarge in your life, you must only do one thing: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This is so simple. This is why I am often fond of saying, “less is more”. It only takes one thought, one act of your will, to put into motion a healthier, happier life. You decide. So please do not be careless about what you think because it will effect what you practice.

 

The Compost Pile

Compost! Perhaps this is a strange topic for rumination in a health and fitness blog, but sometimes I just have to write about stuff as it inspires me. The topic of compost first cast upon my imagination a few days ago when I read the quote (below) on a friend’s Facebook page.

Compost is proof that there is life after death.

As the CEO of our local worm farm, my friend is a specialist in all things concerning the nature and composition of soil. The vitality of her worms depends largely upon the quality and nutritional value of their food source, which is of course, their soil.  And because I am a person who often reflects on life and death from time to time, the topic of compost seemed a likely candidate for my next writing compositon…no pun intended. And I could not help making a connection from the science of physics in regards to life and death and compost because one of the rules of physics asserts: the law of conservation of energy states that energy can never be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another. (The HeartMath Solution)

So then, I must conclude in fervent belief that all of nature, science and faith points to life after death. As a believer in the ‘afterlife’ of the soul and in the rules of the physics of the universe, this everlasting energy cycle, which had no beginning and which knows no end, means, I believe, we each will continue on for eternity, never to be quashed or destroyed.

Now, back to compost, which is indeed very alive even though it is de-composing. On this point we must never forget that compost is not fodder for the burn pile, but rather it is food and nourishment for the soil. The rearranging of its chemical and physical composition gives nutrients and life power to those things rooted for growth in the ground.

But first and foremost, it must be acknowledged that it takes a certain amount of time before compost may become a suitable growth medium for soil. A compost pile must be exposed and mixed with the elements of water, light and oxygen in proper proportions to become a vital soil supplement. Days and days of patient, mindful administration go into successful composting.

The ground’s generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty. Try to be more like the ground. ~Rumi

A similar process of composting is necessary for the growth of my life, my soul. It is in those things which annoy or vex; those things which I may dismiss or consider as dead or dying: relationships, attitudes, goals, or whatever…which may instead just need more mixing or exposure to grace, kindness or patience. My acceptance of this process rather than my contempt is what is needed for the material on my compost pile to eventually become a source of deep nourishment for growth and change in my life. And this one thing I know without a doubt: to live a full, vital life, one must grow.

Rumi gives me some insight into the beauty of composting when he says that we should be more like the ground…open, receptive, non-judgmental. There is a gentleness, a humility in this sort of thinking and believing. But it requires an element of faith in the unseen, microscopic reality which operates on the principle of life after death. Ahh, behold the lowly compost pile.

Clueless

This life we live in the body is meant to be lived in full awareness; all sensory systems are on-line to keep us in optimal working order ~ poised and ready for service. The physical realm, which we seem to be most comfortable relating to, is indeed where our senses are first engaged when we notice that our internal peace and quiet have left our house (the mind). But thankfully, there is a fail safe system built into the architecture of our body which is designed to return us safely to our default (peace and quiet) setting. The fail safe works as a feedback loop; either positive or negative feedback will reinforce our current state of being.

We easily understand and accept the benefits of positive feedback in our lives. When we perceive events or activities which bring us happiness or joy, we feel healthy and fulfilled in our body and mind; peace and quiet reign easily in our house. However, we tend to perceive negative feedback as a form of attack and we prepare for warfare. Unfortunately, when warfare alerts our primal nature, peace and quiet quickly leaves our premises.

But what if our perception of attack is faulty or ill conceived? What if the attacks we  speculate as negative are merely distractive traveling companions whose only function is to push us homeward…to our Peace and Quiet? Maybe we should stop engaging in warfare and instead launch ourselves into a training regimen. Said course would require us to perceive distractions and discomforts as occasions to engage our inner sleuth (clue-seeker).

So, you may ask: “which negative feedback clues should we heed?” How about when discomfort arises; whether in body or mind? Doesn’t discomfort get our attention? Then discomfort is a HUGE clue. When we are ill at ease; agitated; restless; anxious and unsettled or out-of-sorts; when we experience bodily pains or disruptions. These things are CLUES…they are like a resounding gong which activates our early warning alarm system. Changing our perceptions may allow us to view our disruptions of ‘peace and quiet’ as our call to RETREAT and go HOME.

If the NEW YEAR has you yearning for a NEW YOU, then now is the time for your course correction, because it is never too late to heed the Call of the Homeland. Remember, none of us need be CLUELESS. We have everything we need in our body and mind to inform our well being. Now is the time to seek the counsel of the ONE whose presence reunites Peace and Quiet into our house.

 

Job Security

This one minute (foreign) video needs no translation. It humorously illustrates what happens in our lives when we engage in good works on behalf of others. It is a story as old as time and yet it was the script across the final scene that struck a chord of truth for me: “Doing good requires energy.”

Indeed, doing good is hard work. It requires selflessness and abundant stores of patient endurance. Doing one good act a day is easy for most of us to accomplish. We seldom give a second thought to committing good little deeds in any given day. And some days are easier than others for us to DO GOOD. But string a bunch of good deeds together, one after the other…day after day…month after month…well…we could grow old from shear weariness.

But what are we to do if we find ourselves in a situation like the young man in the video? And surely we will, because in this world, we will never have in and of ourselves enough energy or strength to carry others safely across from one side to the other. Unless? Unless what? Unless we realize that our true source of energy is other worldly; it does not reside in or originate from our physical body.

What I mean is this: we are frail in our humanity; our bodies have reserves which must be refreshed and renewed every day. And if we’re not careful when we commit ourselves to doing good, we may run ourselves down to permanent exhaustion if we work as though we are the only one who can do the good work.

So this is the chord that struck me in the video: we cannot do all the good that needs to be done on our own, in our own energy, with our own strength. Because there is no end to the amount of good work which needs to be done, we must tap into a source of energy that cannot be diminished or diluted by our taking from it. I believe we all have access to this never depleted energy resource. But it is not to be engaged within the natural or physical realm but rather through the spiritual  realm, in the unseen reality of the working universe.

I believe that our Source for Energy comes from the Creator of all things. The One who made the universe; the One who made our bodies. It is through the portal of the Divine through which we access our source of limitless, never-ending energy for good works; from this Fount we are able to do ‘all things’…even the impossible task of finishing every good work set before us! The only requirement is that we ASK to be filled when we have emptied ourselves on behalf of others.

So this is the little lesson I learned anew after watching (and re-watching) this sweet, comical little ‘exercise’ video today. Indeed, Doing Good Requires Energy, and in today’s market, job security in good works is a certainty. Thankfully, we also have access to the energy reserves we need to complete our good work!