Movement is vital to our health (mentally and physically).
Yet, “exercise” has been ruined in our country. It has become a “should”, a “have to”. Something I force myself to go do because it is on my List.
When I used to exercise to Jillian Micheals or Denise Austin – all my focus was on them. And on blindly forcing my body to do what they were doing, so I could look more like they looked. My body hated it. It screamed at me constantly. Yet, “no pain, no gain”, the subconscious programming echoed… I “proudly” forced my body to push harder. One more rep. I hadn’t met my quota of acceptance yet… At some point, the pain felt twistedly good, as if I were punishing it for being so unacceptable looking, and so weak. I would ‘beat it into shape’ – or beat it into submission. I refused to accept it as it was, so I’d beat on it because I believed that was the only way to get where I wanted to go. Where I needed to be.
Same with the elliptical glider. Push five more minutes, if you feel like you are gonna collapse when you get off, then and only then can you be proud. Until then, you haven’t pushed hard enough to make a difference, to be okay.
But my body never responded to this favorably (go figure).
I never “got there”, where I felt “in shape” and it DIDN’T feel like torture to work out, where it didn’t make me feel even worse later, and generally poor for the whole evening.
…and I wondered why I didn’t look forward to doing it again the next day (go figure), or procrastinated and made excuses to skip it.
Let’s see, I was hating on myself mentally *while* I was exercising, for being inadequate, and I was pushing myself past my point of fatigue in my muscles. When my muscles are screaming to stop, but I don’t listen, eventually, the muscles aren’t doing the full work anymore, and they then start to dump the weight of your body into your joints. Bearing down on all that cartilage instead. And then I wondered why my joints hurt all the time.
Moving from within a meditation, however, allows all our focus to be IN our muscles and joints. Because all of our focus in there, we are intimately connected with every sensation, every bit of ‘feedback’ they send to us. We discern what feels ‘good’ and move towards it, and we discern what feels ‘bad’ and stop doing that. Yes, that is right – stop. Turns out, you can build strength and grace through love and wonder. When I do Koga, I’m in a mental place of simply *exploration*. It is a place of wonder, because I’m finally allowing my body to BE whatever it IS rather than JUDGING what I feel it SHOULD be and isn’t. I was shocked to discover I felt like I built strength faster with a gentler approach. Perhaps because I wasn’t, literally, trashing my muscles. Perhaps because when the muscle hits that fatigue point, you immediately sense when the muscle quits absorbing the gravity and the exact moment it is transferred to the nearest joint. Then you lovingly move onto another muscle – because there are endlessly many to play with!! But perhaps it feels stronger because I’m in a state of appreciation instead of dissatisfaction. Law of Attraction demonstrates that what we put focus on we get more of. Appreciating strength leads to more strength to be appreciative of. Dwelling in dissatisfaction only breeds more reasons to be dissatisfied.
But it is also a fascinating place. I continue to do it not “just” because my body feels so much better, but because I feel so much more connected to it. It is truly magical to ‘embody’ yourself. Everything except your body ceases to exist – and actually, everything but that PART of your body that you are working on ceases to exist. There is pure expression in that, and a connection to something beyond yourself. The expression of something that IS the gift of life here on this planet, in this human form. When we drop all the judgments, all the criticism. All the projections, all the expectations. I think any BODY will find fascinating strength and expression somewhere. Maybe not everywhere, we all have injuries or weaknesses that we need to ‘handle with care’ – but we all, also, have a whole lot more left over. That we can – dare I say it – cherish. And you know what? It feels wonderful. It is a wonderful feeling to feel ‘cherished’ … isn’t it about time we all learn to start treating ourselves that way? Like Dorothy and her magic ruby running sneakers, we’ve actually had the option all along. There is another way to treat ourselves and still move in the direction we want to go.
Koga is entertainment and play, because the focus is on the present moment. This is the natural experience of the body, when we are not trying to control it to be “enough” (enough calories, enough time, enough movement, etc.). It is this control – the thinking mind trying to ‘decide’ and meet some criteria for “healthy physical exercise” or “weight loss exercise” – that prevents us from being able to enjoy the present moment experience of it. There is a natural and intrinsic joy to moving the body when we are just allowing the movement to be as it is. You start to connect with that life energy that courses through your body. All you become is the energy that is lighting up every muscle fiber and animating it to move however the energy calls it to move.
“No pain” leads to the most gain.