All Exercise Is Meaningless

Cat + Weights

“C’est La Vie”
Photo by kcxd

Every bit of exercise you do is meaningless.

Don’t Just ‘DO IT’
For years, I did things without knowing why. I may have had reasons, but they were hidden from me. Living at a Zen monastery changed that.

Before every activity at the monastery we said a dedication. We’d recite a chant and then dedicate the merit to someone or something.

After a while, I stopped thinking about why we did it.

When I left the monastery, I noticed that many activities lacked weight. This was especially true for exercise. I wanted my efforts to be more than just an ego game.

Check, ‘Me’ Out
Fitness can become all about me, me, me. I want to have a six-pack so girls will look at me. I want to ride faster than everyone else, so I feel like a king.

This focus on the self makes parts the fitness industry hollow, shallow, and inauthentic.

I wanted it to be different. That’s when I remembered the dedications at Great Vow. So, I wrote a dedication for exercise.

All of a sudden, my exercise became an act of service.

I was exercising:

  • To have more strength to help others.
  • To help clarify my mind.
  • To live longer and serve more.
  • To support my family and friends.

This simple dedication changed the meaning behind my workouts. Best of all it can do the same for you.

A 4 step guide to writing a dedication for any purpose.

1. Write down a truth: What is it that you need to remember? Something you know is true in your heart, but often forget.

Some examples are:  Anything is possible, Exercise isn’t selfish, I may not do it today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it someday.

2. Write down an intention: An intention is similar to, but not the same as a goal. It has more to do with internal energy rather than external measurement. It’s something only you can judge.

Some Examples are: I will feel more confident, I will move with more ease, I will change my life.

3. Write down who or what it’s for:We never exist in complete independence. If our course is only devoted to ourselves, the pursuit becomes hollow. When we dedicate our effort to others, it becomes much more.

Choose someone or something to dedicate your effort to. It could be an individual, group, or energy.

Some examples are: I run for my children, I’ll keep going for anyone who’s tried to lose weight and failed, I’ll keep trying in gratitude for the gift of life.

4. Write down what you want to embody:It’s not just about what we do. It’s about how we do it. How we do something is what makes it transformational.

Some examples are: I will embody the persistence of a mighty river, I will embody the strength of Martin Luther King, I will embody the energy of compassion.

Now that you have, your four sentences play around with them. Try putting them in a different order or change the wording.

A client of mine discarded sentences 2-3 and uses her first sentence alone. Do whatever it takes to make it your own.

Finish Line

photo by Candice Villarrea

Keep on Keeping On
All exercise is meaningless, until we realize it’s meaning.

Moreover, seeing our motivation can be very powerful. This process helps find what drives you. Most of all, coming back to your dedication will keep you going when the path gets steep.

I’d love to read your dedications. If you want to share it, please post it below.

Here is the dedication I often use:
My body is subject to old age sickness and death. Nothing I do can change this. I put forth this effort that I may be able to approach everyday with more courage, wisdom, and compassion. I dedicate the merit of this effort to the liberation of all living beings. May my every step embody the path of liberation.


The Most Important Factor – The Arrow


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I wrote a post a couple weeks ago on how to embody the classical spiritual triptych of the archer, the arrow, and the target. The idea arose out of a Yoga class where the teacher talked about how we are each: an archer, aiming for what we want to become; an arrow, the thing that is moving towards the target; and the target, that which we are aiming at becoming. This post will focus embodying the arrow; the self that is dynamically moving towards our goal.

Let Go

The most important thing about embodying an arrow is to let go of planning. Often the fitness industry sells the idea of a great plan that will get you ‘there’ faster, easier, and for less money. Picking the right plan is important to prevent injury, to develop in a balanced way, and to maximize your efforts, but it’s not the most important factor.

The Arrow

An arrow flows with what is around it, It dips and weaves with the air, having a conversation with it’s environment. As you work towards any goal you must be willing to embody the flexibility the arrow demonstrates.

When we are the archer we see the line to the target as straight line. If we are an excellent archer we take into account things like wind and terrain when we shoot. But as soon as the arrow is loosed, it becomes the object of response and adaptation.

If we resist this subtle flow and adaptation and try to fly in a mathematically straight line we will have a much harder time hitting our target. It is essential when being the act of transformation that we let go of how we thought things would be. Instead we must embrace what is.


How can you embody the arrow this week and let go of some expectations? What if you were to relax into whatever activity you are engaged in? Take some time this week and try being the arrow of change and see how it changes your attitude towards your exercise or fitness practice.

Transformation is the practice of people who transform their lives. I have met many people in my life who have transformed their lives and they all have in common is they are still transforming their lives. They never stop. If the arrow stops moving, it ceases to be an arrow. Make sure that in moving forward you don’t forget to flow with everything else as well.