by Patty Cook
Article published in the November, 2015 issue of Dirt Magazine
Living in the land of plenty where anything from minimalist fitness to pole dancing exists, there is no excuse for not being physically fit. No time to work out? Not any more with the proliferation of 24-hour gyms. Even with the plethora of opportunities to stay in shape, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Health and Sports, more than 80 percent of American adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening
So why is it so easy to find a fitness regime that seems to satisfy our desires, but so difficult to stay the course? Part of the answer may be lurking in the lament, “The mind is willing but the body is weak.” We might gain some insight into this self-defeating phenomenon by turning the phrase around.
Unless we are disabled or injured, we all possess the strength, stamina and energy in our physical bodies to persevere and accomplish great things. But how many times have you heard that voice in the back of your head saying, “No, you just don’t have what it takes”? How do we quiet the mind and trust our body’s innate wisdom?
Sometimes it is as easy as taking one (or maybe two) more breaths. Breathing is the universal language of the body and goes hand in hand with any form of physical activity. When we find ourselves in doubt and can’t seem to move past a barrier in our physical practice, it might be worthwhile to pause, breathe, and reflect on our intentions. For instance, try taking in a very deep, full breath, pause for a moment then deliberately slow down the exhalation. In addition to focusing the mind, this ratio breathing technique has an overall calming effect on the body. Afterwards, when we return to our routine, we are fortified by our renewed sense of vitality and can stand strong and confident in our own true center. It is here that we find a wellspring of physical and spiritual stamina.
Any good fitness program will present challenges to the practitioner; that is what makes it valuable. How you approach and potentially overcome these mental obstacles will, in the end, say more about you than the routine itself. As they say, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” – and maybe one or two more breaths.