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“Fitness” needs a makeover. It’s not about the size of your muscles, how fast you can run, or how much you weigh. There are plenty of physically fit people who are unhappy, eternally pessimistic, and drained of spirit. True fitness starts with emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Spirit of Love

Fostering the essence of creation itself
by Brant Secunda

Love is considered to be the most powerful of all powers by the Huichol people.  We say that the world was created with the spirit of love.  Because of this, all of creation has at it’s core this power.  I often tell people that love is more than just something found in a book or a movie.  It is tangible.  
The Huichols relate the power of love to the Earth.  Mother Earth nourishes us with food, beauty and love.  This sense of “taking care” is love.  We, in the modern world, are easily distracted by the objects that so often clutter our lives.  We love this and we love that, whether this be a new car or that be a new shirt.  Love your friends and family, love the plants and animals of nature, love life.  When we do this, true and lasting love is fostered.  
When you wake up in the morning, go outside with a sense of appreciation for all that you have been blessed with.  If a flying bird or jumping deer catches your eye, stop and enjoy your connection to the animals.  If a tree is budding fresh leaves, take a moment to recognize the growth happening before your eyes.  By simply taking the time to appreciate nature you will learn to love the world around you.  
It so important that we remember that we are a part of something much larger than ourself.  By doing so we can let go of our individual objects of distraction and instead focus on the things that offer true and lasting joy, happiness and love.
There is much more to be said about love, but right now I simply want to go outside and practice developing that power.  I recommend doing the same, for when you experience the love of Mother Earth all your problems seem to dwindle away, leaving you with that power of Love.

5 Basics for Health

by Mark Allen

I want to give you 5 Tips for Health and Happiness. None are new and most likely you have seen all of them before. Each one has its roots extending back to the beginning of time. All are worthy of another mention and reminder today. The emphasis of how we work with each may be different than what our ancestors did to thrive and survive. But each is a must for grooming health and happiness to a polished shine.

The first is eating healthy. Most of us in the modern world have at least three or more chances throughout the day to focus specifically on how we integrate this into our lives. A modern world twist to this has first and foremost to do with portion size. Regardless of the actual nutrient value in our meals, no matter how balanced and healthy our sources of carbohydrate, fats and protein, if the amount we are eating is too much, the effects reverse themselves and we can find extra weight being the result rather than good health. Solution? Smaller dishes! This makes cutting portion size simple. Second tip for controlling portion size is to drink a glass of water BEFORE you dive into the main dish. Then finally, increase the frequency of meals so that you are never going into any meal feeling completely ravenous.
The next key to great vibrant health is exercise. This can be in the form of traditional sports and health club classes or it can be as deceptively simple as walking, moving things around, gardening or anything else that gets your body off its duff and in the upright position. Even if you do a 30-minute run in the mornings, make sure to get out and move a few other times throughout the day. This also has a side benefit of helping curb your appetite. So if portion size needs some help, go for a walk first!

A third key to having both the energy to exercise and an appetite that comes from the needs of your body to replenish itself and not from an emotional hole that crying out for filling is to manage stress. Long-term stress zaps energy, can lead to depression, can initially cause weight loss from muscle wasting then later cause weight gain because fat burning is inhibited, none of this being desirable.

You may not necessarily be able to eliminate the causes of stress, but there are ways to reduce its negative impact. One is to do what we call in our book “Quieting The Mind”. There is an entire key devoted to this. In tough moments often the only thing that can be changed are the thoughts that are running through our brains, and usually they are not the ones that help us out! But if we practice quieting the mind, then at least we can give ourselves a break from our own internal chatter, which often opens up the space to hear the answers and solutions we are working so hard to find.

Then in addition to this, use nature as a source of stress reduction and personal inspiration. Walk in the woods, sit by a stream, jump in the ocean, and breathe in the colors of the sunset. These are all tools Brant has us do in workshops he leads. Every single one can give you a calmer feel inside and reinvigorate your trust in life. It sounds simple, and it is, but it can also be a powerful tool for bringing a healthy and happy attitude back when you may not feel it so strongly.

Then lastly, reach out and connect with the community you are part of. Having social interaction has shown to be part of having a healthy mind and body even in the twilight years of one’s life. Community has served humans well for survival both from a logistical standpoint but also because being in community infuses our souls with a sense of belonging, with the side benefit of bringing our being into a more positive state that can actually be measured physiologically to be healthier and happier! 
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