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.


How Is Criticism Is Good For You?

Criticism is one of the hardest things to hear. However, criticism doesn’t have to be all negative. If you able to hear it with mindfulness, criticism can be a chance to see yourself and your ‘criticizer’ on a deeper level.

Criticism >= Stomach Punch?
Recently I was talking with a senior member of my spiritual community. While we were talking my business, the Mindful Fitness Movement, came up.

He expressed concern about how I talked about my time at the monastery. He suggested it was inappropriate to list the 2 years I spent at the monastery on my business website.

The next thing I knew I found myself getting defensive and reactive. What I heard him saying was, “I had no business trying to help anyone at all.”

I was able to explain why I listed the monastery on my site and leave the conversation skillfully.  Still, I left feeling very agitated.

3 Windows Of Criticism
Later after I calmed down I was able to look at what I call the 3 windows of criticism.

1. Their Truth – This is your best guess at what the criticizer is expressing. My best guess was, “Training at the monastery is a sacred tradition. I want to honor that tradition.”

2. My Fear – This is the fear that the criticism triggered.
My fear was, “I’m afraid my spiritual community doesn’t support my work. I’m afraid the person I respect thinks I can’t help people. What if he’s right?”

3. The Value – This can be a shared value or two separate values that each of your is trying to support. The value I saw was, “We both want to honor and support a tradition that helped us find peace and meaning.”

It is hard to hear a person’s values through their criticism. But it’s important to try and see what they care about.  Even if you don’t support how they are trying to meet those values.

MindFitMove Practice:
Think of an occurrence in your recent past where you felt criticized. Then follow the steps below.

1. Write down what you remember the person saying. (Try not to interpret or write assumptions)

2.Write down what your reaction was in words and/or thought. 

3. Write down the feelings that came up for you when they said it.

4. Write down Their Truth, Your Fear, and The Values you were both holding.

Once you have gone through these steps it’s up to you to decide which if any action needs to be taken. Often when we receive criticism our willingness to hear and understand the person is enough to make the difference.

Remember that it’s not about blame. It’s about finding a way forward that honors both of you.


What Is Mindfulness? – Start with Appreciation

Just A Pat On The Back
Growing up I was always told I had potential. A nice thing to say, right? But I hated it.
How did they know I would be successful? They saw potential so they affirmed. But I wanted something deeper than affirmation.
Just The Truth
I wanted truth, dirty, grimy, painful, sexy, truth.
It took me a long time to find a small piece of it. When I did I realized something. Appreciation, not affirmation is the key to happiness.
Saying “You have potential” isn’t that great. It’s like you’re saying, “Someday you’ll be something, (but not today). Kids get this a lot.
Adults say “You’ll be great when you grow up.”  But kids are already great. Some adults just don’t realize it.
Adults also don’t realize how great they are.
Just Learn To Appreciate
As adults we often deny who we really are. Instead we envision some fantastic future version of ourselves.
Appreciation shows us who we are now. Appreciation extends the value of the present into the future.
Just Be Who You Are
The world tells us to look at who we could be.  But this doesn’t work if we don’t appreciate who we are now.
There is no one who reads this blog who isn’t amazing. 
If you each told your story, I have no doubt I’d be amazed. There would be feats of sacrifice, powerful coming of age events, and tales of obstacles vanquished.
Just Be Great
I was a talented kid and I still am talented.  But it doesn’t mean anything unless I can appreciate it.
We have to appreciate and accept:
  • That this flawed person is a miracle,
  • That our friends and family are a blessing,
  • That every breath is a gift,
  • And that there is still work to be done.
  • This simple appreciation will guide us through the darkest times.
Just Here
No matter where you are on your journey to lose weight, build strength or be more mindful, start here. Appreciate where you are right now, because this is where it all begins.
Speak Up
What’s one thing you did well today?
Comment below and share it with us.
  • Keep a journal
  • Once a day write down one thing you are grateful for.
  • And one thing you did well today.
  • Be careful not to make this appreciation of virtue a back handed compliment.
  • For example” I didn’t screw up my paperwork I usually do”.
  • Instead you could reframe it like this, “I was proficient in doing my paperwork today.”
  • See the difference?
  • Once you’ve gotten these two items written down, take just a couple moments and appreciate your deep personal value.
  • How lucky we have something to be grateful for?
  • How wonderful we can appreciate ourselves today?