What Your Back Can Teach You

What Your Back Can Teach You.


Photo By RedKoala1

Recently my back went out. It was a result of over use and deciding to sleep on the floor.

It’s been a challenging experience that is still affecting me 2 days later. Even as I type this, I feel woozy as the results of the muscle relaxers I am taking.

My mother encouraged me to look for the lessons in this experience. So here are four things I learned about myself when my back went out.

1.The Human Body is Frail.
My body is mostly reliable. However, whenever it stops working I remember that it is also frail.

I am always amazed how the body can do so many things. But it’s very easy to take this for granted.

It’s important to find a balance between activity and rest; challenge and recuperation; pressure and ease.

If we don’t respect this balance trouble ensues.

2. No Part of the Body is Dispensable
We tend to preference some parts of our body over others. Nevertheless, every piece of your body is important.

Everything in our bodies is integrated. If one part gets hurt, the other parts do more.

Respect every part of your body. You may not realize what you use it for until you can’t use it anymore.

3. Partnership and community –
We all want to think we are self-sufficient. As soon as you become ill or injured, you realize how foolish this is. If it weren’t for my partner and my friends at yoga school, I would’ve been in big trouble.

Developing healthy relationships and community is one of the most important things we can do to support our body and mind.

4. Universal Health Care
Every time I get sick or injured, I am reminded that we need universal health care. No one should ever have to think about the cost of going to get a serious medical condition checked out.

When I broke my arm and hand in a bicycle accident I didn’t go to the hospital for 3 days because I didn’t have good insurance. If you are hurt, you shouldn’t have to think about how insurance effects you. You should just be able to go to the hospital.

We need universal health care in this country. No one should have to delay treatment because they don’t have enough money.

A Learning Moment
Being sick of injured is hard. We realize how helpless we are in the face of impermanence. I didn’t enjoy getting hurt, but I try to get the lesson out of every situation.

Be grateful for health everyday, because you never know when it will be taken away.

MindFitMove Practice
-Reflect on a time you were injured.
-What did it help you realize about yourself and the people you care about?
-What could you do to help someone you know is suffering?
-Don’t wait until you’re sick; offer help to others who need it.
Offer gratitude in advance to those who would care for you if you got sick.


What is Mindfulness? 5 Tips For A Mindful Birthday

5 Tips For A Mindful Birthday.


I shall now predict the weather

Today is my birthday. No, I didn’t see my shadow, but thanks for asking.

Birthdays are a great opportunity to reflect on a year of life.

They’re a time to celebrate your struggles, accomplishments, and dreams. They’re also a great opportunity to ease some restrictions you have in life.

In that sprit, here are my 5 steps to a Mindful, Joyful Birthday.

1. Remember It’s Not About You – When I was living at Great Vow Zen Monastery we didn’t celebrate birthdays. It’s a long-standing tradition there for good reasons. No one makes a lot of money so gifts are a bit odd, and with so many people, you’d have birthday parties all the time.

Birthdays can put a lot of pressure on us. Like any big holiday our expectations are high and thus your chance of disappointment is high.

So every birthday, I remember the best way to celebrate is to make it about the joy being alive. But I don’t need to make it all about me.

2. Reflect On a Year of Living.

Instead of focusing on regrets, take this time to just reflect on what a whole year of life has held. Think about all the unexpected things that happened. Think about all the little accomplishments, the small acts of kindness, courage, and determination.

If we look for these moments, we will find them scattered throughout our lives. This is a great time to appreciate the vast content in a year of life.

3. Set goals

After taking in the past it’s a great time to look into the future. Write a personal mission statement, make some new vows, and set some new goals.

Set a goal for the day after your birthday, for the week after you birthday, for the month after your birthday, and for the next year of your life.

Make them small, achievable goals. But put them down in writing and post them somewhere you can see them. Write them daily.

The actions we do today is a gift to our future self. So start next year’s birthday gift to yourself today.

If you need help, these posts explain some processes I’ve gone through to set goals for my life.

Vows goal and intentions

The Eulogy project

4. Ease up on restrictions

Don’t go crazy, but give yourself a break from some of your restrictions today. Eat some cake. Goof around. Have some fun. You can always spend a little more time next week working it off.

If we are too strict for too long it wears us out. It’s important to make easing restrictions and breaking a few small rules a healthy part of our routine.

Your birthday is a great time to do this.

5. Spend Time Alone

I’m very good about making time for other people, but not making time for myself.

This birthday I’m going to spend 30 – 60 minutes alone in silence. I’ll probably go on a run or walk.

You can spend this time doing some of these other reflections, but I would encourage you to leave some of this time open.

Birthdays are a natural touchstone of our lives. They are a chance to connect with a deeper part of ourselves.  Silence and space give those parts of us a chance to arise.

Thanks for reading my blog on my birthday.

If you want to get me a birthday gift, here are 3 things you can do.

  1. Subscribe to my mailing list: You actually get a free e-book as a birthday gift from me.

  2. Share this blog post on your, twitter-book-press account.

  3. Comment below and tell me: What special thing do you like to do on your birthday?


Gregorian Calendars Are Stupid

Gregorian Calendars Are Stupid

You see sister, we made it all up!
Most resolutions don’t last more than a couple of months. A good rule for life is to stop making rules, especially ones that don’t work. Here are 5 reasons your resolutions won’t work and 5 practices that actually might.
1. I Resolve to Be Miserable. 
If your resolution is to stop eating sugar or watching TV you’ll probably have a hard time. You’re basically resolving to not do things you enjoy. You can’t get anywhere by rejecting who you are. Instead you need to learn to honor and then co-opt these parts of yourself.
MindFitMove Practice: Instead of asking yourself to reject parts of yourself find a way to embrace other parts of yourself. Try to do more of what you love, especially if it’s something that leads to more balance.
If you love cycling, then try to cycle once a week for a month. If you love making fresh kale, then make a new kale dish every week for a month. Seeking misery leads to misery. Instead, seek the joys that lead to a mindful and balanced life.
2. It’s A Can’t Do Attitude
In the world of non-violent communication requests should be clear, doable, and on a reasonable time scale. If you couldn’t ask your partner or friend to promise it, then don’t resolve it.
“Sweetie would you be willing to stop eating sugary snacks?” This is not a doable request. It’s unclear what a sugary snack might be and how long the promise is being made for.
Try this instead, “Sweetie, for the next month, would you be willing to have a piece of fruit instead of ice cream after dinner?” In the second example the request is clear, doable, and on a reasonable timetable.
MindFitMove Practice: Take one ‘resolution’ and turn it into a doable request with a reasonable time scale. Remember that a reasonable time scale is different for everyone. If you are quitting smoking it may be one day, if it’s taking a new class it may be one month. Experiment and find what works for you.
3.  Getting To No!
Adults rely too heavily on NO! It’s the first word many children learn, because it’s the word they hear most often. When I was a preschool teacher I learned that saying NO! to kids doesn’t work very well. Instead we always tried to find something we could say YES! to.
MindFitMove Practice: Instead of setting a strict rule that says NO! NO! NO! find one that says YES! Instead of saying no to snacking, say yes to snacking on more veggies and fruit. If you eat a piece of fruit half way between each meal, you will likely eat less sugary snacks and fruit has quite a bit of healthy sugar in it.
4. No Reflection? Maybe You’re A Vampire
Many people make resolutions without asking 2 important questions:
1. What will I get/be if I maintain this practice?
2. What will I have to give up to make this practice work?
Making changes is hard, but often resolutions are made in the spur of the moment or without much planning. People don’t take the time to consider what it takes to transform their life. Instead of making short hand resolutions, make plans for life long transformation.
MindFitMove Practice: Instead of making a resolutions, set aside some time to write down 3 things you’d like to do this year. Agree to sit down and write down these goals and answer the 2 questions above. Then decide if the answer to the first question is worth the answer to the second. If it is, remind yourself of this often. If it isn’t, pick some new goals you are prepared to do.
5. The Transformation Will Not Be Scheduled 
Like the title of this post indicates, the schedule for your transformation is not Gregorian. Your transformation happens on your own schedule and pace. A better time to start might be February, June, Or September. The best time is the time when you do start with full awareness.
This isn’t an excuse to encourage you to procrastinate, but if this is a bad time or if you are already transforming then maybe something new won’t help.
Try and be honest with yourself. Maybe you feel more motivated to exercise when it’s warmer so start your workout program on the first day of spring. Maybe you are exhausted from visiting family; give yourself a few weeks to rest before you take on a new challenge. 
MindFitMove Practice: Cycles are important to reflect on your progress, but they aren’t always your best guides. The key to life long transformation is mindfulness and awareness. Use these tools to asses what is a reasonable and doable for you. No matter what you decide, focus on being mindful. If you decide not to change your eating habits, notice what that’s like. If you decide to change the way you eat, notice what that’s like.
What’s Next?
My goal is to support people walking the path of transformation. These 5 practices will help you get started, but transformation takes time and practice.
If you are ready to take the next step, there are 2 easy ones to take
You get a FREE eBook A Zen Buddhist Guide to Fitness just for signing up and at least 3 times a week you will get mindfulness practices, advice, and encouragement to support your path of transformation.
As a member of the team you will get:
1.     Free – A Zen Buddhist Guide to Fitness – upon Signing Up
2.     Free – Awareness eBook– on the 15th of January
3.     Discounts – on a new eBook every month on the 15th
4.     Answers to questions about your Mindful Fitness practice via email or Skype.


A Big Turn Off

This will be a short blog.
Turn off this computer and go do something real with someone you care about. Take a walk, sing a song, or make a meal, no matter what this time of the year can help us remember that the best things in the world are analog. 
Happy Holidays!