Saturday, April 24, 2010
For many years, I equated spirituality with one’s choice of religion. But a couple of decades ago, I discovered that the two can be very different from one another. Not to sound disrespectful, but religion is generally a choice to worship under a specific church denomination whereby one decides to follow the rules and doctrines of said chosen church. But spirituality is an innate part of who we are, and a significant reason why we come forth into these bodies. Our soul, spirit, essence is who we are more than the flesh and bone part of us that gets so much attention. Those things we can use our physical senses to quantify seem to take precedence over those that are unperceivable physically. I certainly understand why that is. However, my life experience has taught me the importance of listening to my heart/gut versus relying solely on my mind and physicality. Most of us have had to learn through difficult lessons that there is much more to being a joyous human being than meets the eye.
We were all given a wonderful guidance system, one that is foolproof and accurate. That guidance system is our feelings or emotions. They provide exact guidance all day, every day, IF we choose to pay attention and to trust them. Rather big ‘IF’S’ due to the conditioning and programming most of us have undergone. Regardless of your past, it does not take a PhD to know in your gut whether something or someone feels like a positive or negative idea or a friend or foe. The trick is in paying attention. By paying attention, you are listening to your spirit’s communication with you. It really is that simple. Being spiritually fit means listening to your emotions and allowing them to steer your course. When you do, you are undoubtedly moving in alignment or in harmony with your Higher Self as well. That is why your guidance is reliable and accurate. It is divinely inspired through your feeling center or your gut. Not difficult and really helpful to know.
So, all that is required in order to be spiritually fit is that you make it a habit to pay attention to how you feel. When you detect negativity, stop and evaluate the thoughts and actions that you are presently using as your excuse to distract yourself from your alignment with All That Is. If you are generally loving, joyous, positive, eager, kind and appreciative, then you are living a spiritually fit life. If, on the other hand, you allow yourself to indulge in worry, fear and doubt regularly and if you generally feel anxious, angry or critical, you have been pulled off your center, my friend, It would serve you greatly to stop and look at those people, events and circumstances that you are using as excuses to be spiritually unfit. It is always a matter of choice and it is always ours and ours alone to make. You are a powerful being who came forth with great intention. Be the best YOU possible by tending to your spiritual fitness. It is such a worthwhile piece of overall health. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Muscles do in fact have memory. However, it has been my experience that without a concerted effort on our part to keep that memory alive, it is lost. Do you recall being able to stand easily on one foot for a minute or more? How about rising up onto your tiptoes and staying there for as long as you wanted? Did you ever walk on the edge of a curb, placing one foot in front of the other, enjoying the ease and proficiency by which you were able to do that? If so, you can have that piece of yourself back. Like muscular strength and flexibility, balance is a re-trainable commodity until we make our transition.
There are a few different and simple exercises that I will be happy to share with you that take little time and yet will reap great rewards. First, one of my personal favorites is to spend 30-60 seconds every morning and night, while brushing your teeth, standing on one foot and then the other. It is especially easy with my electric toothbrush because it signals me in 30-second intervals, prompting me to change quadrants. Next, I practice Yoga regularly (2-3 times/week) and it is an excellent form of exercise which addresses balance, as well as flexibility and strength. I also recommend every time you find yourself waiting in a grocery or any checkout line, try wrapping your right foot around your left ankle and balance there until it is time to move forward, then switch legs and do it again. Each time you find yourself standing at the kitchen sink or counter preparing something and cleaning up, lift your one foot back into a 90 degree angle at the knee behind you and balance for a minute and then change legs. Another good one is to rise up onto your tiptoes and try staying there in front of a counter without leaning against it. The goal is to balance for at least 1 minute; longer is even better. After you find yourself conquering these moves, add this step. Hold your arm out front, to the side and ultimately move it from one position to another. Finally, you will know that you have really arrived at excellent balance when you can hold your balance on one foot or tiptoes while closing your eyes. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITHOUT BEING RIGHT IN FRONT OF A COUNTER, so you can grab a hold as you lose your balance. This is VERY challenging, but doable. Trust me.
So then, the question that begs to be asked is, “Why on earth is balance all that important?” Just ask anyone who has fallen and broken a hip or worse. Losing one’s capacity to balance, especially as we age, is just plain frightening. The two greatest factors in regaining balance are improved range of motion and strength. As you attempt to hold yourself in a balanced position you are engaging, isometrically, your musculature and demanding it grow stronger. Also as you strive to rise up as high onto your toes as you can, you are asking your ankles to become more mobile. This is all good and all very beneficial. Try to combine your balancing exercises with everyday activities so they will be easy to incorporate and easy to remember to do. Literally 2-5 minutes each day will make for a significant improvement in your ability to balance, thereby safeguarding you from future falls. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
What does work is a positive approach that is based on self-approval, kindness and understanding. When we were learning to walk and talk, if our families had ridiculed and threatened us, chances are we would have never learned. We really don’t change all that much as we age. Humans thrive when encouraged, complimented and bolstered, but contract and stagnate when devalued and humiliated. Positive words always cause us to fill with pride, smile and become willing to continue efforts all the more. The same is absolutely the case while creating a successful self-motivation strategy. Now, what we must do is test out different versions of self-talk to see what inspires us and what does not. Trust me, you will feel the difference in your belly, heart or bowels the second it comes out of your mouth and that is the proof.
I suggest that you simply listen for a day or two and write down the conversations you are presently having with yourself. This exercise astounds most people because, truthfully, we become so desensitized we don’t realize the damage we are inflicting on a regular basis. Many studies have shown that until we become willing to change our inner dialogue, no positive change can occur. Allow me to be very clear. If you are in a constant battle with yourself, and are continuously berating yourself, you are blocking your ability to become fit and healthy. Fitness begins with our thought patterns and flows out into our physical bodies. I’m not kidding. You now have a list of negative self-talk statements that you have found yourself repeating. The next step is to look at those statements and soften them, putting a positive spin on them. The next time you catch yourself speaking unkindly to yourself, stop and replace the old patterns with the new ones. It sounds daunting, but after just a couple days of focused effort, it gets increasingly easier.
Please understand that as a species, humans tend to require external motivation, so cut yourself some slack. Great class instructors can be extremely motivating, partners are helpful, caring Personal Trainers are inspirational, as well as, yes...YOU. In fact, you must be one of the cooperative advocates for your success or you will continue to fight a losing battle. There is nothing wrong with having goals but framing them in loving and supportive ways is crucial. No long-term success is possible through abusive self-talk. Decide that loving yourself into ever-improving health IS the strategy that you are going to implement in 2010. Decide that, starting right now, you are going to learn to speak to yourself with kind and uplifting words. Whatever you do, keep those promises you make to yourself. If today after work you are telling yourself that you will come home and take a walk...DO IT. If you say that you are going eat a salad for lunch...DO IT. If today is the day you have scheduled to be at the gym by 6p...DO IT. Nothing sabotages a fitness program faster than broken promises. Even worse, it tells your subconscious, “I’m not trustworthy, I’m not worth it.” Take it slow, be patient, and in time you will find you’re in a new and healthy self-care program that you are enthusiastic about. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Monday, April 05, 2010
As we decide to stay in our power by asserting the only control we really have, by thinking positively—of only the best outcomes, we begin to thrive. We choose to trust that things have always worked out in the past; therefore, we have no reason to believe they won’t this time as well. As we consciously decide that nothing outside of ourselves has the right to rob us of our joy unless we allow it to, we not only feel better but we have regained our power. A dear friend recently shared a statement that has a great deal of energy and helps me to remember that it is always up to me whether or not I remain in my power or give it away. Simply, “ Bless THEM and then change myself.” That rings so clear for me. I am now using it to stay centered and focused on the areas I do have control over.
Certainly none of us has the power to change what is happening in our economy or in our government, BUT we do have the ability to think of positive outcomes versus gloom and doom. And really, which one makes you feel better? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. The truth is that negative thinking cheats us out of optimum health and prevents us from enjoying each and every blessed moment we have been given. We simply cannot afford to wallow in worry, doubt and fear. Life is too short to waste on that. It never does any good anyway and those thoughts prevent us from experiencing the love and joy that surround us endlessly, WHEN we choose to focus on THAT.
So, as life throws you curves and people behave in less than kind ways, remember to bless it all and then look at what thoughts you can change in your own mind. What will help you to feel better and not worse? Know that, regardless of what is happening, this too will pass and those who are behaving badly really are doing the very best they can from their disconnected state. In other words, love them anyway because they know not what they are doing...they are not in their ‘right’ minds. They are in the grip of fear and therefore, they would benefit from our compassion rather then our pushing back against them in rage. Life is short, just a blip on the radar screen. So choose wisely. Decide to be the lover that you are, and know that as you choose thoughts that feel good you are empowered, you are strong, and you have no place in your joyous life for being a victim. Happy mind, body and spiritual fitness to all.