This email correspondence with a visitor to this site, Richard Best, touches on some of the fundamentals of my fitness practice and taps into the accumulated wisdom of a fellow seeker.
On Dec 26, 2011, Richard
Subject: spirituality enhanced fitness
Understanding the process of recovery and the spiritual connections to total well-being is the easy part. As you know, living it one day at a time is another thing. "The Course on Miracles" and the writings of Marianne Williamson, especially "Every Day Grace," are gifts to a new world understanding for healthy living and total well-being. Check 'em out.
As you may know, "The Course . . ." is a powerful statement for the new age of spiritual awareness and total well-being. Wishing you continued success as you seek and the Light, then share with others by example.
On Dec, 27, 2011, Richard
Subject: Re: spirituality enhanced fitness
Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding the first entry on what I hope will be a regular part of a new website.
Actually, so-called "will power" is an illusion. It is my experience that the use of the term begins to make sense when we call it what it really is: "ego-power." Ego competes for our attention and the belief that the power of choice is entirely up to us. When we are strong and determined, we can make healthy decisions and stick to them. When feel depressed, anxious, hungry and weak, we lack "will power." Then comes the binge eating, failure to stick to our exercise routine, and eventual spiral into shame and self-loathing. Ego tells us we are somehow fundamentally flawed.
Learning to adhere to the practice of healthy living is greatly enhanced when we understand that we are powerless until we connect to our Higher Power. This is not intended to reflect a particular religion or doctrine. It simply suggests if you chose health and are unable to adhere to those behaviors you know to be essential, don't go it alone.
Spirit is standing by waiting for permission to give you support. Expect and accept a miracle. I pray our website will enhance this understanding. Look for more material of this nature and, God willing, other good stuff too.
It's going to be a wonderful New Year for Richard Best!
On Dec 27, 2011, Richard
Re: spirituality enhanced fitness
Thank you so much for getting back to me on this matter.
I was delighted to see you use the phrase Higher Power, as for myself, the humble beginnings of my spiritual awakenings come through the great western spiritual practice of the twelve steps, in fact, each morning at 4:30, I leave the house and walk down (read as prayer or aspiration) to the Snug Cove coffee shop here on Bowen Island so that I can arrive at opening time and sit in that early morning quiet and read something spiritual, usually of a Buddhist orientation. So this is how I do my step eleven "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out."
So I totally get what you refer to about will power and the ego, and I know that those elements are not going to do any more than let me down as they have so many times before, and that is why I'm seeking a practice to keep me in my practice of optimal health/fitness (for my body type age etc.)
Addiction awareness has been most helpful for me in terms of cleaning up my diet, as I have become aware that will power again is no match for refined carbohydrate cravings. "I admit that I am powerless over modern wheat hybrids - that my waistline has become unmanageable" I am very conscious of my nutrition intake now and in six months of just walking for exercise and adding the great protein of hulled hemp seed to my diet, I have lost 15 lbs (8% of my 186 lb former weight). With this encouragement, I have committed as of Dec. 22nd to eliminate wheat in all its forms from my diet for a period of three months to see what happens. During this time I ask my pantheon of deities to give the strength to establish a weight training adaptation program, so that I can alter my BMI in a more fit direction.
I've looked around for some spiritual fitness connections and found a couple of yogis who seem to have something going, but the only one who I could believe was the young lady who had turned her life around from despair.
It makes no sense that if the body is the temple of the spirit, one would not do everything to maintain the temple. The saggy decks and leaky roofs of my temple are a testament to the ego's ultimate belief in death or some other trance of unworthiness or equally challenging psychic irritant.
I've recognized that stress is the great energy vampire of our time and have altered my life to unplug from this societal average, so sort of moving from negative state to neutral. Now the next step is to move from this new neutral to something more like self actualization.
I'm sure that just having this intention is initiating a connection with some ascended master of health/fitness/strength to encourage me, maybe Zeus or Archangel Michael!?
On Jan 29, 2012, Richard Best wrote:
Subject: Re: spirituality enhanced fitness
Hello again Richard:
I wanted to write to you about a few things since last we communicated and in which you recommended Marianne Williamson’s ‘Everyday Grace’. We have received our copy, but all I have gotten from it so far are the few salient readings that Gini shares with me after commandeering the book. In fairness, I was immersed in other spiritual readings when it arrived.
While visiting your site, this time, I watched your video clip again about the essential truth of the balance of Mind, Body and Spirit. Today I pulled down from the bookshelf a gem from 1983 by George Sheehan. I read the prologue and a couple of essays and realized that his philosophy of being a good animal, is speaking very much to that balance. I wonder also, since this phrase always stuck with me from when I first read this book many years ago, that that was what was happening for me when I transitioned from fitness to a ‘runner’ back in the day. I felt that feeling of being a good animal, of being in alignment with my basic human angel/beast-ness. It made me think about that urge so many have to get fit to be sexy, or to have “a seductive body.” Maybe for many this is merely how they are interpreting a primal urge to be a ‘good animal’; bala wrote nced in body mind and spirit. They simply have a short and misinterpreted view of their urging and take an unskillful path. A bit of meditation would certainly help.
I wrote to you originally because of your video’s message and my own sad story about fitness inconsistencies and the seeking of something spiritual to get me on track for the duration of this life. I grew up United Church protestant but in later years have identified more strongly with the mind science aspect of Buddhism, and have a working knowledge of meditation. Well, “ask and it is given.” No sooner had my intention to seek this balance been set than a vehicle showed up. It comes by way of a pretty sophisticated teaching of the Buddha’s called the Lotus Sutra; made very simple through a chanting practice designed to align us with the source energy and thus our true nature. Nichiren Buddhism is the vehicle I am now studying and will soon have a copy of the best translations of the teaching by Burton Watson, and a couple of reviews if of interest. Nichiren was a 13th century Japanese rebellious monk who recognized the jewel in this teaching and brought it forward for the benefit of humanity. There are many shades of Nichiren Buddhism, just like any religious philosophy, some with extreme clarity and some more fundamentalist.
Also on you site I checked out your meditation audio introduction, which I enjoyed. The Native American flute is so beautiful. The Tibetan flute is also of this beautiful spiritual nature and you might enjoy a combination of the two as recorded by Sounds True of Colorado. It is called Music As Medicine and you can sample it here.
Okay, that’s my ramble.
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream;
Merrily, merrily, merrliy, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
Namu myoho renge kyo
On January 29, 2012,
Richard Keelor wrote:
Subject: Request to post your remarks as a blog
Thanks for the gift of your e-mail today.
My cohort in this website development, Thom Forbes, was here for a couple of days to consider future directions. Our intention is to provide for those who seek to go beyond fitness and diet to explore the core spiritual essence and empower change to enhance mind, body and spirit. Also to give health and fitness professionals the tools to be real change agents in their teachings and professional activities. Messages such as yours provide encouragement and positive direction to us both.
Your observations and comments give us early confirmation we are moving in the right direction. Therefore, I would like to ask if you would agree for us to include your observations and as a blog reply on our website. It is not necessary to use your name if you would prefer we do not. Please get back to me on this.
We believe the ultimate value of our website will not be the material we put up, but more, the wisdom and observations it may stimulate among readers who will in turn share their strength, hope, and progress. Your messages have validated this intention.
By the way, author, runner and physician George Sheehan, to whom you referred in today's message, was a very close personal friend and professional associate of mine for many years. He was a huge influence in making the connection between mind, body and spirit, both in his several books and the many presentations to health and fitness professionals and general audiences.
Much of what we believe and will try to pass on through our website was gained from George's gifts and insights.
On January 29, 2012,
Richard Best wrote:
Subject: Re: Request to post your remarks as a blog
I’d be honored to be posted and quoted on your site, as an example of that creature seeking the balance of body mind and spirit.
Here’s another thought about why alignment with the Higher Power (source energy essence) is vital.
From my own experience, I can easily allow myself the Maslovian possibility of self-actualization of mind and spirit, but sell myself short on body. My suspicion is that this is due to some “psychic irritant” of a learned nature, such as a belief that it is simply a vanity or too ephemeral (growing up in a culture that valued brain over brawn); but it is when I remember that the body is the temple of the spirit, that I find a ‘reason’ to honor it, and if that is not enough, I can ask the ‘Holy Spirit’ to help me see it differently!
Thanks so much for your response.
And God bless George Sheehan.
On Feb 9, 2012, Richard Best
Subject: cross promotion
The more I re-read the essays of George Sheehan in Dr. Sheehan on Fitness, the more I think that you and the Sheehan family should work out a little web site cross pollination program.
Maybe also with Dr. Philip Maffetone. He wrote a book years ago called something like, Everyone Is an Athlete for which George did the intro. [The fifth edition of the book is available on Amaizon.com.]
On Feb 10, 2012, Richard Keelor
Subject: cross promotion
This project is supposed to be about challenging old ways of doing the health and fitness thing, with a good dose of the spiritual aspects of recovery and the 12 Steps.
As you may have gathered, I'm an old coach and do not adjust well to losing. So I intend to get nose-to-nose with some of our traditional sickness-care professions. The site has still not officially taken off, but the engines are running. No great expectations, but hopefully it will touch a heart and mind here and there.
On Feb 10, 2012, Richard Best
Subject: cross promotion
As in coaching, the site results will come in increments, each step building on the solid foundation of lessons learned.
My current fitness intention, inspired by re-reading George, is to get back to being a runner. I looked through my bookshelf again and found another body - mind - spirit gem:
Worth a read in my humble opinion is Chi Running by Danny Dreyer.
On Feb 10, 2012, Richard Best wrote:
Subject: Kindred fellow
When I was with the President's Council on Fitness & Sports, George was a regular spokesperson at many of our meetings and conferences. We decided his message was too important to share with audiences alone so we made a film (16mm, around 1976-78).
It was a low budget gig so we rented a pick-up, put a camera and sound boom in the bed, and drove down to a dirt road in a marsh near the beach where he lived in N.J. and dumped him out. He often said he received his best ideas while running. Perfect set up.
George asked what we wanted him to talk about and the answer was, "Why don't you run a few miles and you'll know what to say."
He did and it was one of the best films ever. Wish I could find a copy; maybe the Smithsonian?
George was a very good swimmer too. He loved to body surf, but the surf off New Jersey is pitiful. I crewed up on the beaches in Southern California so we had a lot in common.