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A fit mind and a fit body= excellent foundation for meditation

Monday, February 16, 2009

We are all getting our bodies together, that's why we're here on Spark People. It started for most of us with the wish to be in better shape, so our first spark was our aspiration. Then we decided, okay, enough of being over weight, I'm really going to do it this time. That was the intention we set, and then we've made goals, and since then we've been literally working our butts off with exercise; walking, running, lifting weights, tread mill, gym, swimming, etc. All this effort started with our minds, with the aspiration which was a thought that we put into motion.
Now, some of us meditate too (see previous blogs for intro. on meditation). One of the things that I hear from people who are staying with their intention to lose weight is that their mind feels clearer, that their sense of accomplishment at loosing some weight makes them feel better about themselves, their minds feel stronger because they have determination and every mini goal boosts that determination, people walk taller, have more confidence and like themselves better when loosing weight- it's proof we are doing something really positive for ourselves.
We can take that same determination and all those other positive qualities we're developing and use them in other areas of our lives. If you read some of the success stories like I do, you see this is what people are saying about themselves and we also see how all that we do is connected.
Our spiritual path is not separate from the rest of our daily, sometimes mundane living. It's not just the time we spend sitting on our cushion meditating or the hour or so in Church/Temple services. Each of us is our spiritual path, it is within us and the more we pay attention to it and nurture it, the more we develop and deepen our inner experience of it.
We can take our personal experiences that we're learning from our fitness and weight loss, and apply it to our meditation practice. We can bring that sense of determination to training our minds in meditation because we are actually already doing that, we can bring a sense of well being and perseverance to our daily practice and when we set a goal to sit for 20 min. or half an hour and we do that, we can feel a sense of accomplishment. If our mind wanders a 100 times in the 20 min. that's ok, because each time we manage to bring the mind back home to the focus of attention such as the breath, that is a mini accomplishment. This is mindfulness and tracking our food intake is another mindfulness, staying within our calorie limit uses our awareness. Sticking to the program takes diligence and not getting distracted- these are the main ingredients of Shamatha meditation, non-distraction, mindfulness and awareness. Another ingredient of meditation is spaciousness, that keeps our minds open and relaxed. We need that with our SP program as well, otherwise we get uptight and you know a result of uptightness is rebellion!
Having a fit body and all the mental qualities that we are developing through our program create a prime foundation for meditation. One thing is certain, and that is if we want to meditate we need to have the aspiration, the intention and the goal and we need to take our bodies to the cushion and enjoy the space we have created with our clear mind that is full of positive qualities and potentials.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MADANNIE71 3/11/2009 2:08PM

    Since joining spark people and meeting so many strong and motivated people, I have discovered that weight loss, in itself, was not really the intention I wanted to work on. For me (it seems so simple now) my intention is mindfulness and opening my heart. The weight will fall, or perhaps not, but it will because I have mindfully acted out of my and our world's best interests. You have put it so beautifully Clair. Thank you.
Ashley

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TABBALOOSA 2/17/2009 7:58AM

    Wonderful, insightful observations. Aspiration, intention, goal. I love the many ways I am learning and changing from SP.
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KATHYLM51 2/16/2009 8:43PM

    We are so "one" person and yet so many skip the mind and soul and attempt to control only the food intake. I wrote a blog on "alignment" that said, when the mind and soul are operating from center then the resulting eating falls in place but all things must run with a piercing invisible rod from the tip of my head through my toes...then "my self" is within and not ahead or behind me. For me that is why SP has worked, I have not just attempted to cut calories but approached this holistically and that has been the key to joy and success.

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So What Does Meditation Have To Do With Weight Loss and Fitness Anyway?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Where is the connection between losing weight and getting in shape and meditation? Is there one? Well not necessarily, there can be and then again maybe not. We can certainly lose weight and get fit without applying meditation. And as I've found out, we can meditate and not get fit or lose weight. However, if we put the two together I believe we have the foundation for both successful weight loss and meditation.
When we meditate we are generally applying a "technique" which is an anchor or focus of our attention and then the actual meditation practice is to keep bringing the mind back to the focus. We do this over and over, because our minds just flitter about looking for distractions. It's like it's our mind's business is to do that- to be distracted. In meditation we are training this wild monkey of a mind by bringing it home again and again. Why do we want to do that? It takes a lot of time and sometimes we don't see the progress right away.
By training our mind to stay on the focus of attention we develop concentration, mental stability. We also slow down the distracting mind and this slowing down of distraction creates the space for the mind to settle, to become calm and peaceful. Sometimes this experience happens for just a second or two, but as we continue to apply the practice eventually, perhaps weeks, months or years the mind will become calm and peaceful.
When our mind is calm we have more presence, emotional stability, increased awareness and sense of open spaciousness. We can experience all this and still not be working out with our bodies. BUT, as our awareness increases with the care we apply to ourselves through meditation, there will come a day when we can no longer be unaware of the grosser aspects of our mind, body and speech. When this happens our sense of self-responsibility increases, both for our own actions, thoughts and speech and how we interact with the world around us and what kind of "foot print" we are creating.
So, meditation is not just about calming our own mind in our own little world, but through the awareness that is developed, we become more aware of our interconnection and interdependence with the world and all it's inhabitants around us.
For now, we start with just sitting, sitting practicing meditation each day for what ever period of time we can offer ourselves and slowly, slowly we develop awareness by relaxing and taming the mind. Isn't that wonderful!
It dawned on me one day that there are so many obese people, one out of 5 in the US and I am one of them. I have been eating more than my share of food. There are so many people who have little or no food at all. Perhaps by my taking responsibility for my overeating there will be someone else who has been lacking in sustenance who will find the food they need. I pray that will be so. Another thing I considered was how much money, time, energy, etc. is spent on treating diseases caused by just being over weight and how much of that could be easily prevented through proper weight loss and fitness and it was time I took responsibility for my condition before it impacted others.
Even though there may not necessarily be a connection between weight loss and meditation we can make one by building a bridge of awareness.
Next blog: Meditation tames the mind and builds awareness, but what does a fit body have to to with meditation?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISTINGETSFIT 6/7/2013 11:09AM

    This is quite insightful. Thank you for sharing!

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OWENSAUNT1 6/22/2011 9:42AM

    I went to a class to learn how to meditate and she used a similar analogy to your monkey scenario. She described the mind like a puppy. You can teach it to sit, and it will still wander off and you'll have to bring it back to focus and show it to sit again, but redirecting the wandering IS the practice of meditation. It's puppy training for your mind. It helped clear up the idea that you're "doing it wrong" when you get distracted. Thanks for adding to what I learned with your insight.

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JWBSEVEN 1/23/2011 10:04PM

  Wow, you are a fantastic writer. I have looked up dozens of pieces on meditation and how it works..yours is crystal clear - I get it! emoticon

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JWBSEVEN 1/23/2011 10:04PM

  Wow, you are a fantastic writer. I have looked up dozens of pieces on meditation and how it works..yours is crystal clear - I get it! emoticon

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JWBSEVEN 1/23/2011 10:04PM

  Wow, you are a fantastic writer. I have looked up dozens of pieces on meditation and how it works..yours is crystal clear - I get it! emoticon

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JWBSEVEN 1/23/2011 10:03PM

  Wow, you are a fantastic writer. I have looked up dozens of pieces on meditation and how it works..yours is crystal clear - I get it! emoticon

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CHRISTMASRAIN 2/19/2009 5:06PM

    I meditate twice each day and that prickly calm peace that I feel during meditation feels really good.

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TABBALOOSA 1/27/2009 6:38AM

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. I especially like your insight about our interconnectedness and 'taking responsibility before it impacts others' - as well as to help others. Have a beautiful day!
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Meditation- Finding who is at home

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Making daily meditation a priority for the day is really helpful. It's usually best to do it first thing in the morning before the mind starts to get distracted with everything else. If there is a family involved, give yourself the space to rise a bit earlier than they do, so you can enjoy the peace before the activity begins. Meditation then becomes the foundation for the day and the place where you come from and bring the mind back to throughout the day. During the day you can return there (in your mind) for just a second or two, a couple of breaths, remembering your center and the love, peace and spaciousness of your beautiful heart which you can now share with others.

It's more inticing to sit if you create an inspiring environment for yourself, a place that you want to go to. A picture that inspires, a candle, a stick of incense, a flower or spring of winter green- and your Spark Goals- can make a very nice little meditation shrine- oh, and a seat. Sitting on the floor on a cushion or in a chair, it really doesn't matter as long as the back is straight. Keep the eyes open and relaxed and focus on the out breath or looking at an object is the best way to start- or if you like something to help keep the mind focused saying a mantra like Om Mani Padme Hung while gently being aware of your heart and sending out love to all beings. Just let the thoughts come and let them go, no pushing or suppressing, just keep the mind relaxed and spacious and when the mind wanders off, which it will do, gently bring it back to the focus of your attention (breath, looking at an object, reciting a mantra). Even giving yourself the gift of 10 min. a day will will enhance self awareness and spaciousness. In the book Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche you will find very inspiring instructions on meditation.

If you have family, it's best to get up a bit earlier than the kids do, just to give yourself that little bit of time to come to your center and then to ease into the day peacefully. When my youngest child was between 2 and 3 she would come rest her head in my lap and fall asleep or quietly play at my side. It's a wonderful space to create for children and you can also teach them this when they are very young. If they aren't interested wait until they ask or wish to try and you can make it something fun and interesting.

"Happiness and unhappiness are not primarily created by the material world or the physical body, first and foremost, they are decisions of the mind." Mingyur Rinpoche, author of The Joy of Living, Unlocking the Secret & Science of Happiness.
Enjoy your spaciousness and Happy New Year!

  


Meditation, one of the foundations for well-being

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hi, I thought I would share with you some simple meditation instructions, since I have heard that some of you are new to this and want to know where and how to start. There are many different kinds of instructions and variations of meditations, these instructions come from the Tibetan Nyingma tradition and are based on the teachings of the Buddha and so can be found in most all Buddhist traditions. However, one not need be a Buddhist to practice this, this simple meditation can complement any spiritual path.
Making daily meditation a priority for the day is really helpful (a new goal to complement your focus on improving body fitness?). It's usually best to do meditate first thing in the morning before the mind starts to get distracted with everything else. Even rising a bit earlier, if there is a family involved, so meditation becomes the foundation for the day and the place where you come from and bring the mind back to through out the day.
It's more inticing to sit (meditate) if you create an inspiring environment for yourself, a place that you want to go to. A picture that inspires, a candle, a stick of incense, a flower or spring of winter green- and your Spark Goals- can make a very nice little meditation shrine- oh, and a seat. Sitting on the floor on a cushion or in a chair, it really doesn't matter as long as the back is straight. Keep the eyes open and relaxed and focus on the out breath or just look at an object is the best way to start- or saying a mantra like Om Mani Padme Hung. Just let the thoughts come and let them go, no pushing or suppressing, just keep the mind relaxed and spacious. When the mind wanders (and it will!) just gently bring it back to the focus of your meditation. This is the practice, you'll find that you will be catching yourself and then coming back again and again. But after some weeks or months you'll find the mind wanders less and less and your ability to stay in a spaciously relaxed frame of mind will grow. That is concentration- it doesn't have to be tight, relaxed and open and staying with the object is concentration. Giving yourself the gift of 10 min. a day will will enhance self awareness and spaciousness.
"Happiness and unhappiness are not primarily created by the material world or the physical body, first and foremost, they are decisions of the mind." Mingyur Rinpoche, author of The Joy of Living, Unlocking the Secret & Science of Happiness.
Enjoy your spaciousness and Happy New Year!
Claire (a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JILL313 4/24/2011 9:11PM

    Thank you for the information on Mediation and I am going to try it in a few minutes. I need some relief and calm from the stressful life I live. Thank you so much for your help!

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VXWALL1942 4/24/2011 3:45PM

    This is a new approach to me. Thanks for the introduction to this beginner. Its tougher than I expected but will be worth it I've no doubt.

LOL - There's an advertisement for learning meditation as a header on this blog. How's that for 'a sign' ?

vicki

Comment edited on: 4/24/2011 3:47:53 PM

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CHRISTMASRAIN 2/19/2009 5:13PM

    I jsut discovered your blogs on mediation and will subscribe to them. How wonderful to know that there is another on Spark who meditates. I have been meditating for 1.5 years and my life has changed. emoticon

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FIT2TRAIN 1/21/2009 2:51PM

    Thank you for this blog! I am a bit behind on your blog entries, but I will definitely do this!

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RUNNING@MYPACE 1/10/2009 3:32PM

    Claire! Thank you so much for sharing this! I am making a NEW morning mediation for myself. I had been trying to just squeeze it in and that just wont do, now will it! When I meditate for love and compassion do I chant Om Mani Padme Hung should I look at a picture of Chenrezig or The Buddha or just anything that invokes feeling of peace and love to me? Thanks for the tip on thoughts that wander in ..instead of letting the pass I end up focusing on them to get them out! I really appreciate your insight. It is so hard for me to get to the Center here with 4 kids and they don't really have a place for wild 2 year olds yet LOL!

Love,
Ijah


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