So. After my taking back control post I had an email from an awesome friend who always makes me think (and is not afraid to tell me what I don’t want to hear.) This friend challenged me a bit on the idea of body consciousness and whether perhaps the preoccupation with such was, in fact, what made us “acted upon” rather than “free to act”.
And to that I must answer yes. When we are obsessed with our body image, with our weight, our appearance or even with our physical health we are not free. We are enslaved. That too is a trap. And it’s one which affects most of us at some point or another to some extent. This obsession can have devastating consequences and destroys many individuals and families. It is a scourge and epidemic to our society. A preoccupation with physical appearance or any aspect of the physical experience really, is a barrier to our eternal progression. An obsession with anything enslaves us to that thing and takes away some of our freedom. I have had personal experience with this enslavement and it is a dark and terrifying thing.
And so I feel that I must clarify my intentions with regard to the upcoming Momedy Sketch Community Challenge (which I am profoundly excited about) and with regards to my chosen career in personal training in general. Please understand I am in no way on the defensive here, I’m not clarifying because I felt attacked or judged by this line of questioning, but I do think it is a terribly valid concern, and that it is important that we all work through these motivations in our minds before we get started.
Here’s the thing. I love helping people. I think we all do. It’s wired within us to want to uplift and help people to be their best selves. My passion in my work as a personal trainer and in my work as a birth doula for that matter, has nothing to do with my desire to create a “perfect body” for my clients, or to allow them to have a “perfect birth”. Mostly because those things don’t exist. There is no such thing as a perfect body. What may appear to be “perfect” in the eyes of one person in our culture may well appear perfectly unappealing (or even revolting) to another. There is no such thing as a universally “perfect birth”. In fact the birth ideal varies wildly from individual to individual. A healthy body is more quantifiable and less subjective, but even that is at times, a factor which is out of our control and thus it is not as relevant to me as the idea of helping people to find joy through empowerment. Of helping people, wherever they may be in their journey, to get a sense of what they are capable of.
Just as we are wired to want to help others, we were all wired to be powerful. None of us was created to be small or frightened or insecure. None of us was created with the intention that we would feel blocked, trapped or powerless to progress and discover how spectacular our true identity is. Not one of us was created to feel less than, inadequate or falling short of our potential.
We have a divine nature with a divine destiny and anything that takes away our feelings of capability, our feelings of empowerment in achieving that destiny, or our ability to tap into our best selves (which we all sense, or at one time have sensed is something spectacular,) is a trap.
As a trainer I focus a lot on the concept of the spirit being infinitely more powerful than the body and tapping into that power. When our bodies and appetites are in charge of us, when we sense that they are driving the bus and leading us to feel sluggish, insecure and unhealthy we feel anything but empowered.
This does not mean that we need to have a perfect looking or even a perfectly healthy body to feel empowered, but we do need to be driving the bus when it comes to our appetites and our habits. When our bodies are in the drivers seat, our spirits have to by default sit in the passenger seat, or even the backseat. And to be honest, our bodies are really, really terrible drivers. They function purely on instinct. Without a spirit governing and guiding them they degenerate to a shell of pleasure seeking drives. With a spirit in the drivers seat our bodies can do marvelous things, they can help us to feel true joy rather than very, very short lived pleasure. Our bodies under the control of a strong spirit are a marvelous and amazing gift. When we abdicate control over them, we show a lack of regard for that gift and we don’t even begin to tap into the potential of it.
I find that it there is a delicate balance (which must constantly be assessed) between taking control of one’s body and becoming obsessed with it (thus becoming enslaved to our bodies in a different yet equally damaging way). I also find that when I am in healthy and balanced control of my body, I tend to be in control of the rest of my life. I feel confident and capable, I feel brave, I feel energetic. I am far more inclined to reach out to others, to forget myself and help where I am needed. And that’s what I want to get back to. There are so many areas in my life where I have not been living up to my potential recently. And there is really nothing that stifles my joy more than to know that I am existing rather than living with intention and actively progressing. I would be so bold as to venture that the same is true for anyone if they really think about it. When we are out of synch with our true selves (which are divine and have infinite and spectacular potential) we cannot be truly happy.
And so I feel that it is a mission and even a ministry for me to help other people to find empowerment through getting control of their bodies, through discovering what their bodies can do when their strong spirits are driving the bus.
I find great joy in what I do. I want to help you to find great joy too. Early last Saturday on a frigid February morning, a client of mine who started working with me at the beginning of this year, ran a race. When we joined forces less than 2 months ago, she was very afraid for her health. I was very afraid for her health.
Her body had been so kind as to give her a wake up call and a warning and she had heeded it. She was motivated by her love for her family to make changes and she was determined in making them. In the last couple of months she has worked really hard to achieve her first goal-of running that race. And she achieved it. She knocked 2.5 mins off of her mile time in the last 6 weeks. She showed herself that she could do it. When I asked her yesterday if I could write about her experience, she started by saying that she was a bit shy about it because it was not a big deal, but then she kept talking (it was voice mail so I was not prompting her) and she said, “actually I am really proud of me too…it would have been easier for me to just stay home. ….there were a lot of people NOT doing it who were in a heck of a lot better shape than I am. And so yes, I am proud that I did it! And now I want to set my sights on something further because I know I can do it”.
I got a bit teary when I heard that. A little bit verklempt now, still. Because that’s what it is about for me. I just want people to feel proud of themselves. I want people to know how awesome they really are. I want people to feel good. I want them to know that they can do it. And then do something even bigger.
That’s what I want for all of you. That’s what this challenge is all about about. It is not confined to fitness and weight loss. It’s about breaking free from what is holding us back. Whether you are overweight or underweight or of a healthy weight, I want you to know that you can do stuff. You can do hard stuff. You can do the stuff you were created to do. The stuff you suspect you can do, dream of doing, have sensed you should be doing and have maybe stuffed down deep inside of you, because you were afraid of failing in the attempt. Whether it is running a race, or losing weight, or starting a business or being a better parent. Whether it is being more organized, or writing a book or going back to college or starting a new career, or inventing something or….. anything that your soul has been nagging you about….
I want you to know you CAN do these things, and I want 2013 to be the year that we all go after them.
I want this to be the year that we stop being scared of our potential, that we embrace and welcome failure along the way, that we shake ourselves free of feeling BLOCKED. We were not created to be blocked. We were not created to be acted upon. We were created to act.
Let’s do this.
The Momedy Sketch Community Take Back Control Challenge starts this Monday 2/25/13.