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