Creating an exercise plan to support me rather than to attain a goal or an image is something that I would have laughed at years ago, back when exercise used to mean something very different to me. In the last few weeks I have been implementing my own exercise plan that I tailored just for me, as a support to bring all of me to life, to confirm the unique flavor my essence offers and me as being my own woman, not one dictated to by societal images.
In creating my new plan which includes some gym work and walking each or every second day, I am appreciating that the way I used to exercise and the way I exercise now and for what reasons are completely different, and feel completely different in my body also. You could say my relationship with exercise has completely changed as a ripple effect from the relationship with myself changing.
My Old Relationship with Exercise…
Exercise for me used to be about:
- achieving or maintaining a goal weight
- having a particular look
- being able to be fit and strong if I needed to defend myself
- a relief and false release of any pent up tension, anger, fury, frustration or suppressed/unexpressed feelings
- a way to deal with issues by checking-out of life and staying in a momentum
- a way to keep my body hard so as to not feel
- a way to fill the emptiness I felt, to keep me busy and not have any quiet stop moments.
The way I used exercise here, although it may have ticked a few people’s boxes, wasn’t actually healthy because there was an addiction element to it. It was much the same feeling as when I smoked – if I didn’t get a hit, I felt irritated. If I didn’t get to do my exercise, I would feel low or furious and a very tangible tension because I had not given myself the daily drug I used to relieve my undealt with hurts and emotions.
I was dedicated, focussed and had a good working knowledge of gym exercises etc. I used it as one of the things to make me feel I was ‘sort of enough’ and I would always make sure I had a ‘work-out’ if I could – to the point that I remember turning up late to an end of year teaching staff function which was held straight after school at a pub. I had to get in at least a half hour run at the gym. I then raced home, got dressed and caught the bus to the pub so I could drink – where I got wasted on a few drinks instantly. No part of me back then put two and two together saying healthy exercise should not be addictive and if you are healthy and looking after your body, you would not be putting a poison that destroys organs and alters you into it.
The fact is I was exercising to meet images and to feel I was enough, but not in truth to be healthy. True health supports you to be all of you and I was not using exercise back then to do that – I was using it as one of the ways to cover up insecurities by doing something or looking a particular way.
Deepening my Relationship with Myself
Through being inspired in a way I had not felt before, I started to deepen the relationship with myself and make supportive life changes immediately after I met Serge Benhayon over nine years ago.
From the presentations by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, and the reflection Serge offers through his responsible lived choices and his caring way of being, I have been constantly inspired to be more of the true me and stand in my own unique and divine presence, letting go of the false ideals, patterns and beliefs that have contorted who I was naturally born to be; from here I then bring the natural and true me into every facet of my life, more and more each day.
Initially when I first started to reconnect with myself and develop that relationship with myself years ago, I knew the way I exercised had to go.
The first shift or learning point was to let go of the old ways and reasons for exercising. I did this by just choosing to walk, focussing on my walk, the way I walked, the reason I was walking, practising keeping my mind with my body and feeling how my body felt as I walked.
This at times was as simple as feeling my feet and at other times it was feeling the flow or tension in my body, even though my mind or old patterns would try and jump in. My mind tried to be a trickster quite a few times with bringing rules into the length of walk or the pace of walk, or calculating the aerobic aspect of the walk in relation to weight, so it took me a little while to truly let go of the ingrained exercise patterns that I had adopted to the point where I am today.
My Relationship with Exercise Today…
Exercise for me is now about:
- remaining with and building the connection with my body
- strengthening and stretching my body in a surrendered way
- being present – keeping my mind with my body and the activity at hand
- confirming who I am and not losing myself to the exercise
- listening to my body and deepening that communication
- bringing gentleness, tenderness and playfulness into movements
- feeling a fluidity and flow
- quality of movement, not quantity.
The amazing part for me to feel is that even though many of the exercises are the same as I used to do many years ago… the quality of exercising is completely different. I have noticed the effect that has had on my body – before, during and after each session. Before exercising there is no drive now, no need for an ‘accomplishment feeling’ or need to ‘let’s get this over with’ feeling or to relieve anything – but really it is engaging with the quality of movement that then happens to affect the muscles. Me remaining with my connection while exercising, supporting the powerful and amazing woman I am.
During exercise I am always aware of my breath, having a surrendered feeling in my body and being aware of how my body is feeling as it is exercising. Sometimes I am more delicate, tender or present than others and I get to feel a spaciousness or stillness feeling. If I need to lessen the repetitions or change the order – then I do so with no attachment or regimentation. After each session I have not felt exhausted or drained, or that I have pushed myself. My breathing is fairly consistent and when I walk around during or after a session it is to confirm my connection to me and not to walk off the intensity I have just put my body through, as I used to do.
So now – it’s a miracle really… the same exercise but in a different and true quality that supports the body. The gorgeous part is that every time I make time to delicately practise presence in my movement, it builds and becomes a natural way of being in my general daily activities.
With deep appreciation for all the uniqueness and dedication of the whole Universal Medicine student body… for the applied understanding that I have come to has been because of many, not just one. I would say that is brotherhood!
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Certificate of Early Childhood Education, Complementary Health – Esoteric Practitioner, Student of Counselling Diploma
My Commitment to Exercise – My Commitment to Me
From Sport to Exercise: A Journey of Self-Acceptance
Exercise – it doesn’t need to be hard work
Thank you Joanna, as we learn to understand our bodies and the way we have treated them, so that when we do not replace what we have being doing with things that have been love-less with a Loving practice, then we will replace it with something that will be just as harmful.
‘You could say my relationship with exercise has completely changed as a ripple effect from the relationship with myself changing’… this is so true for me too Johanna. I used to walk to lose or maintain my weight, in frustration or anger or to lose myself for an hour or two. My trips to the gym were done with the same energy, with the intention to fulfill my ideals of how I wanted to look rather than to lovingly support my body. Nowadays, I exercise to support my body into my elder years in a more gentle and present way and not to tick the boxes and achieve an end result.
Quality not quantity is the essence of every move we make.
Love that Mary 🙂
And considering that every time we move we magnify the energy we’re in, it makes it even more important to clock the energy we’re in!
‘Working-out’ gives it away, as it is a ‘program’, which is another give-away word, when we work within exercise becomes a Joy, and twice a week is all that is required, but a ‘regimented-program’ feels like we have to do it where as a loving ritual leaves the door open to being connected and flowing with a rhythm that suites our bodies. And as you have shared Johanna, breathing and stretching along with much lighter weights is what is required.
“…engaging with the quality of movement that then happens to affect the muscles”. Thanks Johanna, this was a stand out line for me because it turns everything about exercise on its head, it’s about connection to you and expressing your essence in your movements, and the affects then onto the strength and fitness of the body. i know when I have vacuumed for example in my quality of Stillness and tenderness it had a very different effect in the body, it felt quite lovely and my muscles really enjoyed it and did not feel sore.
I really enjoy exercise these days because of the way I do it. There’s a belief that working out has to be fast and hard and intense in order to get results. But that’s not true. If there’s that feeling of not being enough, of course, your going to want to fill it up as fast as possible. But when you are enough you don’t need to push yourself to get somewhere fast and hard.
I totally agree Leigh. When I go to the gym it looks like I’m not doing anything! No puffing, no sweating and no pushing hard. Just gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, and with consistency I have noticed more of a difference than when I went all out to ‘improve’ my physique to satiate my vanity.
“Through being inspired in a way I had not felt before, I started to deepen the relationship with myself and make supportive life changes immediately after I met Serge Benhayon” Amazing how so many people have changed their lives profoundly when meeting with this wonderful man.
Meeting Serge was like coming home to something I innately already knew. That’s what makes it so fascinating Annoymous, we already KNOW who we truly are, it’s in our cells and our DNA, yet we do everything we can to avoid it by pushing ourselves to run marathons, pumping iron and competing against each other by track and field.
We can do any activity and use it to bring a deepening relationship with ourselves or we can use the same activity to compete, check out and ignore our body the choice has and always will be ours.
Excerise doesn’t have to happen at the gym, you can do a stretch whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or ‘high knees’ when running up the stairs.
Do you remember Jane Fonda and how she used to tell us to ‘feel the burn and do it anyway’! Funny how we get caught in the consciousness that there is no gain without pain rather than doing exercise in a gentle and delicate way whilst remaining aware of what our body is telling us and stopping when it hurts!
My relationship with exercise constantly changes and can tell me so much about how i am feeling and what is going on in my life depending on which set of characterisitics listed in this blog it fits into.
When we exercise to meet images we set ourselves up to fail, when we exercise to improve our vitality and out look on life we can’t go wrong.
Exercising that truly supports the body to build strength and stamina is a joy to do, but how often do we exercise because we want our bodies to look a certain way if we have ideals and beliefs we want to live up to? I have noticed that pushing my body in drive feels a whole lot different to exercising with purpose.
Building a new relationship with exercise has so many benefits. My relationship with it has been off and on for many years with an all or nothing type of attitude, mostly driven by how I want to look. Now I do it for health and vitality reasons and feeling the benefit.
The word ‘exercise’ has conjured up so much within me recently that for a short while I couldn’t relate to the movements I was making to the word ‘exercise’. Words have been tampered with so much that the true meaning has been lost however through the commitment to surrender I am renewing my relationship with such words as exercise and they are not only coming to life but very gently being embraced in my life once again.
It is a lie to think we can build true confidence without a connection to the body. Pushing and driving the body is checking out and is the way I used to exercise with absolutely no consideration for my body whatsoever. I didn’t care so long I fitted the picture I was investing in. There is no goal in how I exercise today – no losing weight, toning muscles or picture of a flat tummy or slim thighs. Exercising today is simply creating space to be and deepen the connection within through the movement of my body and by doing so building a confidence that doesn’t just temporarily fix how I am feeling but is constant within me everywhere I go and in everything I do.
I can relate with what is important for you while exercising today, ‘remaining with and building the connection with my body’ and, ‘being present – keeping my mind with my body and the activity at hand’, that way I can really listen to my body and honour what it is conveying.
I love my relationship with the gym, every time I leave it for a while and come back i realise how much more aware I am …of my body, my behaviour, my surroundings..it is a great marker and I love that I can deepen my relationship with my body and get to love and appreciate myself more in the process.
The hardest but ‘healthiest’ thing we can do in life is to let go of all the images that we hold – such as the need to look a certain way, or the need to be a certain way…for all this just gets in the way of our natural way of being in life which is one of the greatest gifts to self and all. I am gradually learning to do this, but keep finding this library of images tucked away in so many corners! It is a work in progress to let go and just be.
When we seek a purpose outside of our selves be it for exercise or for anything in life (eg. to lose weight, to look fit etc), then eventually this fizzles out and we drop the ball so to speak. But if the purpose is deeper such as holding a fitness that allows us to work more efficiently and do what needs to be done without tiring out, or to deeply care for our body and support our connection to self and our true expression…then this is a different ball game and so long as maintained and practiced with care and connection then will sustain itself till such time that it is no longer needed.
There are many ideals, beliefs and pictures I have taken on around exercise and as soon as I let go of one picture another comes to the surface. My relationship with exercise like every part in my life is a constant unfolding, surrendering and letting go of all that which is not true so that exercise becomes an activity that truly supports me and body and not something that ticks a box to make me feel better.
It is amazing the difference when we exercise to support our body rather than from an image or an idea as to how we would like our body to look. One rejuvenates and supports from within whereas the others yearns and longs for more.
Exercise can really suck you in if your not careful, suck you in with the sense that it becomes about the body and building it up to look good or to achieve something. When we actually approach exercise in a totally different way when it is about connecting and feeling the quality of your movements, the muscles your engaging the, this all sounds like the usual approach but for me I have been finding how subtle and deeply powerful this really is when truly connected to.
I agree, there are many subtle, abusive movements we make without even realising it when exercising and even when we think we are mastering exercise through the connection to the body more is exposed. However the relationship with exercise is not to be given up on which is what I have experienced in the past from time to time and when I read a comment such as Natalie’s I am inspired to take the next step to deepen my relationship with exercise because I know there is so much more to exercise than what I am living.
‘The way I used exercise here, although it may have ticked a few people’s boxes, wasn’t actually healthy because there was an addiction element to it. It was much the same feeling as when I smoked – if I didn’t get a hit, I felt irritated.’ Yep, I can attest to this too, missing a workout meant having to ‘catch up’ in some way, but on what? It’s great that these underlying feelings to do with exercise are being exposed as there is a whole commercial industry which has grown out of feeding this situation. The pushers and the addicts.
I can relate to what you write. Exercising without pictures e.g.outcomes, needs etc. brings a different quality to exercising. I experience it is just me with my body in the moment now. No pressures, straining, but more a gentle steadiness and presence with the body. It took me a while to let go of the belief that this is ‘enough’ as support for the body.
I’ve totally changed my relationship with exercise, gone are the days of pushing and driving to get fit and to be a certain weight and body shape. Now, I enjoy being connected to my body and stopping when I feel too.
My relationship with exercise is totally different now, gone are the days of pushing my body more and more to be super fit, which I wrongly thought I was, to now exercising in connection and honouring of what my body is asking for, which is very little gentle exercise.
My relationship with exercise started out with being all about performance and competition, it morphed somewhat as I became an adult into helping me to look good (which was actually the least committed I was to exercise at that point). But the transition into simply doing it so it supports me in what I need to do, so having a strong body for the way I choose to live… that is a purpose I have been able to commit to, and I find it does not hurt! (unlike the other forms)
Exercise can be a drug and an addiction if it’s used to give us a ‘kick’ e.g. a sense of satisfaction, recognition, protection or numbness.