By Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak
In spite of our annual winter fear that summer will never come again, we can finally embrace her arrival once more. As the weather steadily improves and we once again move out of doors to appreciate our summer, we hopefully have an increased level of physical activity. For most of us, it is a rude reminder of just how sedentary we have been all winter as our muscles ache and our joints pains, and perhaps those extra few pounds we have accumulated, make us very aware of our body.
So, summer becomes a friendly reminder about our lack of activity and fitness for a long period of time. We look at our diet and how we are eating. Many may, once again, try going back to workout schedules attempting to get our bodies back in shape. We work throughout the summer getting our bodies fit enough in preparation for the great Canadian hibernation, where many of us will once again sit the winter out waiting for those first warm days to lift our spirits.
Not Just Physical Fitness
This might be a good time to look beyond just the physical component of fitness and see that Holistic approaches our Spirit as well as our mind and body. What better work outs can there be. As with all activities the more you do them, the more benefit you derive from them: also they become easier to do and enjoy, without it being a big deal.
Here are some Holistic Fitness ideas for you to explore or once again include into your daily routines. Although they are in random order and you can try just the ones that may interest you, meditation really does need to be number one, though, in everyone’s life.
The cornerstone of all wellness programs is the age old practice of meditation. You need no equipment, nor special clothing just the desire to close your eyes, relax your body and mind and breathe. Try doing it outside at this time of the year under a tree, by a stream, basically, anywhere that you personally find conducive to relaxing. Connecting back to nature, something we loose during our indoors’ existence of winter, grounds us into the Natural world we inhabit. Let your senses experience the sights, sounds and smells of your surrounding and the healing effect it can have on us. Silence of the mind when combined with natural surroundings reaches right into the soul.
The most complete fitness activity encompassing every level. It is important though to let your mind relax, stop thinking and start breathing. This can also be thought of as a walking meditation but keep your eyes open! Let your mind wander; don’t use this time to sort out the problems of the world. Allow yourself inner silence while in motion. It is very conducive to connecting your mind, body and spirit.
Come warmer weather we need to alter how we eat. It does not need to be as heavy as we do not need as many calories to stay warm in the Canadian climate. Nutritious eating need not be expensive and preparing a fantastic meal can be as recharging to the mind as the eating of it is to the body.
4) Body Work
Any bodywork from Massage therapy to aromatherapy helps to join our body, mind and spirit. There are numerous research studies that show just how important safe, nurturing touch is to our entire being.
Play with your children and pets. Research shows that playing with pets calms us and lowers our blood pressure. Playing with children and pets encourages our own inner child to come out and play, allowing us to be creative, silly and put our serious adult aside for awhile. Unconditional love moves us right at our soul level.
6) Have Fun
This may sound ambiguous but most people are much more serious in the winter. Being buried under layers of clothes and shivering is not conducive to being light and airy. Get together with friends, especially those that love to laugh. Have a Barbeque, go on picnics or dine at your local restaurant patio and laugh a lot.
Growing things whether they are in the ground or container gardening on your balcony gives us a strong connection to Nature. To know you are co-creating with Nature by nurturing plants and flowers touches our spirit. The sheer beauty of the summer garden gives our souls a welcome sight. Plus the physical work of planting and upkeep gives us a physical workout. Again though let your self enjoy the experience without whipping up your thought process.
8) Leave the City
If you are a city dweller get out into the countryside whenever possible and connect with Nature. The absence of city sounds, smells and sights will lift up any spirit. Try to meditate in this environment.
9) Curl up with a book
Let yourself read for the joy of reading. You do not need to be learning at every corner. Find something that is pure fun for you and enjoy. The spirit finds as much nurturing in relaxing as it does when you are doing spiritual growth work. In fact it may be nurtured even more!
The idea of Holistic Fitness is to give your self a break from all the work we do, whether earning a living or in personal and spiritual growth, moving us to lighter activities to recharge ourselves. The key component of only the few ideas in this article is to stop thinking so much. We lose our self in our issues, always processing as though there was some time limit to reach some highly enlightened state. The fact is, life will always be a series of learning and growth challenges that need to be offset by our ability to nurture and care for our self. The trouble with our mind is it loves to keep sloughing away if it is given the chance.
To fully appreciate the lightness of our spirit we need to give it space to be experienced from the inside out. Nothing will cut off and use up our spirit’s space more than constant heavy thinking. Learn to find a balance between working out what you need to learn and enjoying your self in the inherent lightness of our spiritual self. Acknowledge your mind, body and spirit each day and give it room to play and enjoy. Our spirit probably isn’t having too much fun lost in the issues of the human personality and interactions.
So while the approaching summer may make you look at your physical fitness, try to find a place for your entire fitness, body, mind and spirit. They go very nicely together.