Exercise is a tool, it is a means to an end. It is a habit and a practice. We can use it for different reasons and I believe it is important to know why we are doing it (or not doing it).
As with everything we decide to do or not do it is down to our specific hierarchy of values and none of us are right or wrong for our values. But if we are not exercising it simply means that no matter what we say, we value something else more than lacing up your trainers. We often set new year resolutions and say what we think we should be doing, in other words injecting society’s values into our lives and in the process minimise ourselves based on what we think is the acceptable norm. If you say that you value exercise and you are not moving, your actions speak the truth, not your words, as if you really did value it, you would be doing it! The perceived pain of exercising is greater than the perceived pain of not not exercising, we think that the short term pain of getting of hearts pumping is not worth it. This is not wrong but important to understand and be honest with ourselves.
We get stuck in short term space and time horizons. We are thinking day to day, week to week or occasionally month to month or year to year. But we rarely think decade to decade, century to century. We struggle to see 50 years into the future and the negative effect of a sedentary lifestyle. We struggle even further to think beyond our lifetime, and the trap of immediate gratification is what drives so many of the issues in today’s world.
Are we exercising to become fit, or to become powerful? To look good or to feel vital? These are the sorts of questions I encourage you to ponder, largely because I need to constantly remind myself about them! When we talk about power in this context, it is not power over people but personal power and mastery.
I keep coming back to Georges Hebert, the French physical educator and officer in the French Navy. He developed his personal adage “Being strong to be useful”. The method of physical training that evolved through his studies and work stemmed from tribes and cultures whose people lived in harmony with nature. Their physical prowess was born out of the necessity to be a useful member of the community, to be able to hunt, gather, climb, travel, look after children, build shelter. Nowadays we no longer need to have the need to engage in those actives but the world has shifted in a way that still requires health and vitality. Whether the content of our lives is filled with work, parenting, play, education, travel or anything else, the more energy, strength and vitality we have, the more powerfully we can engage and give the best that we have to offer in those fields. We all have some desire, whether consciously identified or not, admitted to or not, to leave some sort of legacy after we pass.The greater our personal power, the greater the chance of having a part of us preserved after we die whether in the form of family, business, social change or a message we want to bring to the world.
According to the Vedic texts exercise has 3 purposes:
To rejuvenate the body and cultivate the mind
To remove stress
To develop mind-body connection
The ancient cultures have known for millennia that there are deeper gains to be received from exercise than a nice looking six-pack.
So I invite you to ponder the role that movement plays in your life. What would be the impact on your family, your friends, your work if exercise became an absolute must in your life? What would be the impact on your mindset? What changes to your mindset may need to happen to change your lifestyle? What benefits could there be to your spiritual life? How would having greater strength help you financially? How would your self-worth be influenced? If exercise is not part of your life, are you willing to wait to hit rock bottom with a health crisis before you decide to act? What sort of example would you love to set to the people in your sphere of influence?