As a trainer I’ve seen a lot of exercise trends come and go. I’ve also seen many different types of clients try many different exercise plans. No doubt, my most successful clients have strong goals, high commitment levels and the courage to redefine themselves and try new approaches to get what they want out of their routines. But there’s one thing that never fails and always gets real results – a plan based on daily steps with variable exercises. The body, like the mind, needs challenge to change. If you force it to adapt by varying your routine you’ll see results much faster and with much less boredom. Let’s face it, a dull, repetitive plan gets flat results. You have to ramp up the intensity, repetitions and novelty of your plan so you won’t plateau. Make your routine less routine. Try something a bit new every time you workout and you’ll see new results all the time. It’s all about taking interesting, incremental steps each day – climbing the mountain one variable foothold at a time – that gets you to your peak shape and strength. Want to lose weight, get strong and feel great? Try this simple-to-follow but variable routine over the next 10 weeks to realize what I mean and leave a comment on how it changed your body, health and energy! It may not be easy, but doing anything new takes effort and you can do anything for 10 weeks!! Your will is stronger than you think… the challenge is yours to meet!!! Aren’t you worth the effort?
There are no guarantees in life. This existence we call reality is unpredictable, fraught with upheavals, reversals and all kinds of twists and turns. Just when we think we’re on a path with sure and certain footing, the ground can give way. It is our expectations that bring disappointments; our inability to accept and flow with change that makes adaptation so challenging. We all prefer what’s familiar and can forget the adventure of life demands change and flexibility. It is the flexible mind-set that fairs best in times of change and a flexible, strong body that weathers the unpredictable nature of life. We each have strong wants and needs, related to our subconscious desires and self-conscious awareness. When these two states of consciousness are married, and their differences honored, we are able to come to an understanding of “super-consciousness” where the needs of the self are recognized within the framework of the greater whole of life-awareness and cosmic consciousness is revealed. This leads to a state of creative flow, what is commonly referred to as being in “the zone.” One’s passive and assertive sides, the analogous navigator and driver of one’s consciousness is made available so one’s purpose can be understood and reached. As state of harmonious awakening then comes into being.
If the purpose of life is to grow, learn, heal and expand consciousness, it is essential to meditate on one’s place in life and to escape the confines of ego, fear and desperation. One must embrace change and uncertainty with bravery, selflessness and openness to fully understand one’s purpose and potential. We all intrinsically want and need love, peace, purpose and freedom – the channels to true prosperity and happiness. We know these things to be our birthrights, what we each deserve as human beings. But there can be no love without bravery, no peace without sacrifice, no purpose without discipline and no freedom without justice.
These are the four foundational lessons of life and karma. Aligning one’s self with such knowledge and wisdom will inevitably enlighten one’s experience of life. Ignoring these lessons and neglecting their development shortens one’s potential for conscious evolution. If there is one purpose to each day, let it be this: make your life a shining example of good in the world and leave the world better each day than how you found it. Embody the bravery, sacrifice, discipline and justice you know will make a difference and reshape the world to your highest standard of what you wish it to be. In all things, be faithful, grateful and generous and no door in this life will be closed to you.
New Year’s resolutions can be, to say the least, challenging to keep. That’s because we’re all creatures of habit. We all prefer familiarity and regularity. Even if spontaneity is your thing, you still like it on a regular basis! If a new activity or behavior feels fairly uncomfortable, we’re far less likely to prioritize it or make a commitment to doing it. But that’s the rub! We have to get used to being uncomfortable and dealing with the unfamiliar to gradually get over that discomfort in order to form the new habit and make it feel normal, everyday, easy and routine. It’s like starting a new job. At first it’s all new – the people, the tasks, the expectations, the environment – it’s all strange. But then you work there a while and make friends, get to know the place, get the job done and make peace with it. It’s just a matter of time and commitment. A new habit can be formed in three to four weeks. That’s how long it takes our neurology to adjust to new behaviors becoming regular parts of our body-mind complex.
Consistency is everything when it comes to reprogramming your behavior. Whether it’s a new exercise routine, a special nutrition program, letting go of a bad habit like smoking or resetting your clock to wake up earlier it takes daily discipline to shift into the new regimen. Without that daily reinforcement, the body-mind has no idea what you really expect from it and reverts to it’s old patterns of behavior because it knows how to manage your actions in that framework. There really isn’t any simpler formula when it comes to changing any aspect of your life: take time daily to engage in the new activity or behavior and gradually, step by step, day by day, it will become a new habit and feel like a second skin. The same applies to letting go of an old habit: commit to daily positive reinforcement and watch those outmoded patterns melt away.
It’s also useful to replace an old habit you want to drop with a more desirable habit you wish to enact. If you’re trying to let go of a smoking habit or over-eating, you’ll want to program daily activities like exercise, quality time with friends and family, working on a project, practicing a hobby, getting out of the house, getting involved in your community and making time to laugh, sing, dance and enjoy life. So much of developing and maintaining healthy habits has to do with your interest level. Find the activities you enjoy most and those will more than likely become your habits for life. What’s your goal, honestly? Is it something worth dealing with temporary discomfort to achieve? Setting sail with your goals in mind is always a commendable intention but you must put the systems in place to achieve that goal or you wind up doing more wishing than willing the changes you want. The systems are your sails. Do what you love and do it well all the time and you’ll create a pattern of success that can direct you toward any destination.
So, if the wind feels like it’s left your sails and you’re meandering in a sea of old habits with not much motivation to make the changes you know will improve your health and happiness, breathe new life into those proverbial sails by taking on an empowering daily routine for about thirty days. Stay focused and determined for just that long and you’ll realize you’ve adopted a new, positive behavior that will change the course of your life for the better. You can do anything (within reason) for a month! I challenge you to try your best everyday, for just a month, and guarantee you’ll discover a more powerful, uncompromising side of yourself that you’ll love, cherish and respect for having given you the chance to keep the promises you’ve made to yourself. By February you’ll be a new person and glad you took my challenge! Best of luck and do report back… I’m always thrilled to hear about your progress!
~Be the wind, the sail, the goal and the journey… and be well!
Living well is the greatest gift you can give yourself and blesses all those you love so immeasurably. Here are some tips to give you a healthy perspective so you can be well, stay happy and live full of cheer from now through next year…
I hope your holidays are beautiful and blessed with the company of those you love, in good health, with a generosity of spirit that inspires you to be your best and share freely the thankfulness of your heart.
I find it so interesting that the emotion of fear, a feeling meant to protect us from harm, can paralyze us and prevent us from experiencing the fullness of our life’s potential. I also find it fascinating that fear is so closely related to the emotion of excitement. When we want something, we get excited about it. So having a strong desire for an experience or thing can make you feel a bit edgy. Often channeling that desire into action can help you overcome the emotion that may be misinterpreted as fear, anxiety or apprehension. If you feel fear but there’s no basis for being afraid other than having a new experience, learning or growing somehow, then what you’re feeling really isn’t fear – it’s excitement – the thrill of trying something new or attaining your desired goal! Daring to stare fear in the face and overcome it makes you stronger. You expand your possibilities and defy your limits every time you remind fear who’s boss – you! Just because something is unknown doesn’t mean it’s unsafe or necessarily worth being scared of. Surprises can be wonderful. So, the next time you’re afraid of something new ask yourself, “Isn’t this really exciting?” and give yourself permission to try it and see how it makes you feel. You never fail when you allow yourself the chance to succeed. Learning to fly means being willing to fall. Never fight your instincts, never freeze your will and never flee from a challenge. Learn to take courage by mastering your emotions and knowing them well. If it’s not likely fear that you’re feeling… Fear not!
Never discount the power and value of your dreams…
Dreams become goals… Goals become plans… Plans become actions…
Actions become manifestations of reality…
Dreams are just as real as anything else in life… They are actual things, like sunlight and shadow, wind and rain…
They are as real as seeds and when we water them with time, effort, energy and faith…
They become bright flowers and mighty trees. All good things have their roots in imagination!
So dream on and keep your hopes alive by taking small steps and having big beliefs…
Plant the seeds of wishing, water them everyday and see what beauty blossoms…
Dream deeply, broadly and wildly, making reality match your desires… confident your visions will be met.
Become a catcher of dreams… hold your dreams dearly and do what you must to make them visible to all… so your light may shine on the world!
Bodhi-Dharma, the first patriarch of Zen Buddhism, wrote that, “if you wish to seek the Buddha (enlightenment), you ought to see into your own nature; for nature is the Buddha himself.” Seeing your true self, the self that is connected to all of life and the universe, is what sets you free to fully understand and be at peace with your existence. We cannot escape the divine miracle of being. If we deny or ignore the majesty of our presence, we reject it’s inherent gift. To look away from that light is to believe in the shadow’s truth. The truth is there is no duality. There is only one truth but our awareness makes us question, is your truth valid or is mine? Who’s truth is best? The answer, in Zen terms, is “None. Both. Either. Neither.” What you have learned, compared, contrasted, debated, doubted, trusted and taken as your truth is merely a choice, defined by your mind. Beyond that dissecting, discerning, dividing self there is a truer self that knows all is One.
You are the light and the shadow. You perceive the sun’s illuminating brilliance and cast the shadow that seems so real. You are the reflection and the mirror, all in one. Accept the light and shade and you come to see into your own nature. What we embrace, we become, as much as what we avoid. In all things, there is you. In the stars, in the world, inside you, all around you, in the void and in the vastness of all that is, there you are. What you think and believe becomes what you do, becomes you. You and the Buddha are already One, simply by the act of your perceiving him.
Zen master Hui-Neng said, “from the first, not a thing is.” I believe this to mean that since the advent of creation no other separate thing has been created and all things we see are woven into one indivisible truth of being. Doesn’t that make you feel the depth and height of the miracle you are? You exist and nothing can erase or replace that beautiful truth. Be detached, free of form, free of mind, free of words and ideas, undisturbed by cause and effect, and there you’ll find the oneness and unity of your nature, your true self, moment by wondrous moment, breath by sacred breath, in meditation as in living.
When we want to gift something to someone special we will put a lot of thought into the giving. We’ll find the best or the most interesting or the most beautiful gift we can afford. The more special the person is to us, the more thought and value is put into the gift. We’ll look everywhere for the perfect way to say “I love you” or “I care” or “You mean a lot to me” or even “I’m sorry.” That gift might be a thing, an item, a physical object, something for our loved one to possess. But it might be something less tangible that we give away to someone we love. A lover will give his heart away. A brother will sometimes give his kidney away to save his brother. A mother may be willing to give up her life for her child. What are you willing to give to show someone how important they are to you?
Maybe it’s an opportunity, an adventure, a celebration or recognition of some kind that we give away. Maybe it’s approval or acceptance or a needed change that we give or allow for. We can give patience, understanding or consideration that is needed to help someone we know or care for to feel better. Maybe it’s a service we give away or finances that may help. It could be a simple smile, glance or kind word that gives what is required. Or it could be time, effort or energy we give to make someone feel we support them. No matter what we give of ourselves, that is the energy we receive back. We’re each only as good as the last bit of good we gave. Our value is determined by the worth of what we’ve shared and spread. Why do we give? Often it’s to bring others joy. But if we give with something expected in return, somehow the gift becomes a loan. If we give without wanting for ourselves our gift becomes divine, a spiritual release, a signal to the universe that we are ready to receive much greater than we could have hoped or wished for in return.
I believe the greatest gifts have no monetary value and in fact they could be seen as priceless. The love, compassion, peace, contentment, joy, faith, health, wellness and prosperity we find within our lives and in the lives of those we love… these are the greatest gifts we can bestow upon the world and what we must be most thankful for. Forgiveness is a gift with endless returns on investment, too. It guarantees we are no longer locked into an agreement that someone else’s emotions have power over us and we can let go of the past for the good of all. Above all gifts we can give, gratitude for all we have – even our pain – and a belief in giving ever greater good is the key to having ever more to feel grateful for and allows us to receive gracefully.
Considering all the effort we’ll put forth to give something amazing to someone we love, don’t we owe it to ourselves to also give ourselves the very best, too? Don’t you deserve to give yourself the best? What would you give yourself if you had limitless giving ability? How generous would you be with yourself? What about someone you love? What would you give them if you had endless choice? That’s the same energy you must give with every smile, look, action, word, request and thank you to feel and be your very best. Those are the biggest, greatest gifts for they come from the heart and soul.
Isn’t that so inspiring and true? Be thankful for everything and you’ll never lack anything!!
Give and be well! ~Namaste
Chanting, like singing, can be a tremendously healing and affirmative way of making your life more rewarding, creative and tranquil. Vocalizing certain vowel sounds actually vibrates energy centers in the body known as “Chakras” in Eastern Medicine. These “energy wheels” can become imbalanced due to stress, trauma or negativity which, in turn, throws off the function of the body’s systems, especially the nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems, immune response and digestive organs. Below are Buddhist chants, or mantras, that have been used for thousands of years to restore a sense of balance, peace and calm to the body and emotions and to enlighten the mind.
Vibrating or resonating the body through the use of vocalizations has also been found to heal the body from habitual tension and uneasiness as a form of “sound therapy,” similar to the effects of attunement with ambient and classical music. The following chants are easy to learn and are pronounced phonetically or as their spelling indicates. Their use is far-reaching as a tool for meditation, relaxation and higher learning. Start with one a day, like the sacred “Om” (the symbol depicted in the mandala above). Really notice how vibrating the sounds involved makes you feel. The meaning of the chants will come intuitively, but I’ve included some basic translations below.
Buddhist chants are typically repeated in cycles of nine, a sacred spiritual number, and can often extend to between thirty-six and one-hundred-eight repetitions. But, like I said, start with just one chant, repeated nine times in a row each day and see how it makes you feel. If you like it, add more repetitions or more chants. I hope they bring you the health, wealth, wisdom and happiness they’ve brought me, my clients and millions of people worldwide. Happy chanting!
10 Buddhist Chants to Energize, Enrich and Enlighten Your World:
1. Chant “Om” or “Aum” nine times in a row to find inner peace.
2. Chant “Om Sharavana Bhavaya Namaha” nine times to show your openness to receiving good and your gratitude for all you have to give and share.
3. Chant “Om Mani Padme Hum” to proclaim that you are guided to do good and your heart and head are united in making your life peaceful, purposeful and prosperous.
4. Chant “Aham Prema” to feel inner love and proclaim divine love within your life.
5. Chant “Om Shri Ram” to heal your body and promote better health in those you love.
6. Chant “Om Shanti Om” for peace in your life, in all of humankind and in the universe.
7. Chant “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha” for good luck, removing obstacles, gaining wisdom and increasing wealth and abundance in one’s life.
8. Chant “So Hum Ham Sa” to connect with your higher spiritual awareness and greater intuition.
9. Chant “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” to devote yourself to higher truth, beauty and goodness in an open and peaceful way. This chant revives one’s purpose.
10. Chant “Lang Vang Rang Yang Ham Om Aum” to align the chakras and connect with their innate power for healing, inner peace, wisdom, creativity and compassion.
Another great approach to discovering the healing and enlightening effects of sound therapy and resonance attunement is to read Jonathan Goldman’s book “Healing Sounds” and research his website and association dedicated to exploring the positive effects of sound vibration on the body and mind. Here’s a sample of the work he does: Chakras, 7 Minute Tune Up. I hope you enjoy his breakthrough sound therapies as much as I have. Please contact me or leave a comment if you need further advice or instruction in how chanting mantras and sound therapy can improve your sense of health and well-being.
In all you think, in all you do, in all you are – be well! ~Namaste