Yesterday and today are introductory articles to this series on Movement and Exercise – the theme of this entire series on movement is that movement is an essential key to healthy and happy living, and to living a Low Density Lifestyle.
I discussed in yesterday’s article on movement and exercise, part 1, how movement of and by itself is important, and that the best approach was one that focused on a number of things: the body, the mind, the energy system, the breath and stillness.
I concluded the article by saying that whether you’re seeking spiritual harmony, soulful pleasures, or just want to sweat, training the body is as important as training the mind and spirit—you can’t have one without the other, and they are deeply interconnected.
Now, that is not to say that you have to have abs of steel to attain good health and a Low Density Lifestyle; instead what is important is an approach to movement that focuses on flexibility and strength, and touches on the components that help to make us FREE (FREE=Flow/Relax/Effortless Effort): the body, the mind, the energy system, the breath and stillness.
You may wonder why stillness is mentioned when it is movement I am talking about. Stillness gives the body a chance to rest and regenerate, and for the internal computer that runs our body and mind to reset the hardware and software within us.
You can’t just push, push, push all the time—we do too much of that. Taking the time to be still and to relax helps the body get into the effortless effort mode, and when we are in that mode we are more capable of feeling the pulse of the universe vibrating deep within our soul.
We also can’t ignore the importance of the breath, and when we practice stillness we become more cognizant of the breath and our breathing patterns. Breath is essential to all the processes that occur in the body; in Eastern traditions breath is essential because it is known that being in tune with your breath connects you to your deepest inner knowing.
The breath also signals both the beginning and end of life. If you have ever been present at the passing of a life, you would have witnessed that the final sign of transition is a deep and freeing gasp. In contrast, if you have ever had the pleasure of being witness to a new life about to begin its journey, you would have seen that the first sign of life is the cry of a newborn baby as they claim their place in the world.
Author Tarthand Tulku in his book Tibetan Meditation notes that we have both an outer and inner breath: the outer breath is our physical respiration, while the inner breath silently moves through the body and is smooth and full of feeling, and as it circulates throughout, has powerful effects on our energy centers.
If all you ever do is push, push, push all the time with your movement approach, and for that matter in your everyday doings, and never practice stillness and awareness of breath, your body will just become tighter and more rigid.
That is not the way to be if you want to live up to your peak abilities and enjoy the bounty of life. There is a certain lightness of spirit and soul that is desired in order to live a more zestful life, and so your movement philosophy should make sure that is what is represented in your approach.
That’s not to say that at times you won’t sweat and strain and feel sore all over, but you should also make the time to do something kinesthetic that has a different orientation: one that encompasses stillness, quiet and awareness of breath, so that you can feed and nourish the soul.
There also are many times when your movements are just natural extensions of life. Gardening, walking, hiking, biking, baking, playing with your friends or kids, and many other things that are part of the everyday aspects of life are all important ingredients to a healthy life because they are part of the ebb and flow of the cycles of nature and the changing seasons.
And the Zen proverb “chop wood, carry water” is a reminder that in the daily routines of life, we can find harmony, increased awareness, stillness and flexibility of body and mind – all of which are essential to living a healthy, happy and fulfilled life that will help point you towards living a Low Density Lifestyle.