I've been a personal trainer (and trainer of trainers) for more than 30 years. Letely I've been thinking about a new, metaphorical and spiritual way of looking at my basic workout rules.
I have three rules that I'm always repeating during workouts. My students can tell you that I'm the biggest nag about these three – Number One: Abs are always on; Number Two: Breathe; and Number Three: Nothing less than perfect form is acceptable. It's mean in good fun, but these rules help to insure that my clients' workouts are safe, that they will get better results – and that they will develop good fitness habits that will last a lifetime.
But it has occurred to me that I could look at these same rules in a more spiritual way, and see them as "rules for life." For example, the abs are obviously associated with the body's core – and the rule is that they should always be engaged in the gym. Well, I asked myself, what is my Spiritual core? What is the center of my being, so to speak? I would say it is my authentic self, which is expressed by my personal values. Your personal values support and stabilize you (just like your abs) and they should always be "on." So this is rule Number One: Always be true to your authentic self, and keep your values engaged in every choice you make.
Workout rule Number Two is "Breath." All the mind / body traditions – like T'ai Chi, for example – teach us that breath is a metaphor for "being in the moment." We may say that while having rules gives us structure and consistency, we must also be flexible. Every moment in life brings us a new experience – which we will miss if we are too fixated on a past experience or anticipated future. You gotta "be here now!" Life rule Number Two: Pay attention to the beauty of this moment, and flow with what is actually happening in the present.
Finally, workout rule Number Three is "Nothing less than perfect form is acceptable." Here's the thing – if you use less than perfect form, then by definition you are compensating – using an inefficient movement pattern. All compensation patterns usually lead to wear and tear. Carlos Castaneda once wrote that his teacher Don Juan told him that his Spiritual path was called the path of impeccability – to treat every moment as if it were his last, most precious moment. Do not waste any moment. Make choices, not decisions. Be courageous, not timid. Love many and much, and avoid judgment. This is life rule Number Three: Be Impeccable with your life – do not waste even a moment.
So as you engage in the "exercise of life," here are the three basic rules that will strengthen and protect you – and get you good results:
1. Always be true to your authentic self, and keep your values engaged in every choice you make.
2. Pay attention to the beauty of this moment, and flow with what is actually happening in the present.
3. Be Impeccable with your life – do not waste even a moment.