As a Buddhist practitioner of now 20 years, my meditative lifestyle extends to my daily life as much as I can incorporate it. Sometimes I succeed, other times I am struck by the instantaneousness of my limitations, and the constant reminder that they are to me that everything is impermanent, and ever changing. I use kettlebells as the main form of physical exercise and self-cultivation; it is a discipline that really knows no bounds and constantly raises the bar on me. That bar is named “28 kgs” at the moment, and the exercises that I could do almost without thinking on a lesser weight ( 20 kgs) now require absolute concentration and effort to execute.
And I love it.
I have been exercising seriously since I was 18. I am 43 now, so that is 24 years of getting to know myself, ups and downs, rises and falls. Injuries and times, brief moments, when the body achieved what I subjectively called balance. Since stress at work and in daily life coexist inside my body, at times working against our own efforts to keep healthy and sane, and whether I am aware of this relationship or not, I have seen and felt with my own body the detrimental effects after sitting still in an office, ten hours a day for two years and not taking care of myself very well.
Jersey saved me, and gave me a sustainable and maintainable weight and body strength that I can work with and keep. The extra time that I had every day was put to good use- I got in touch with my physical self and made the often painful journey back to a balanced state of health. Historically, the Japanese and Chinese took meditation in action and embodied it within their martial art systems.
The Spartans and the Romans did something similar, although they did not have the complexity of thought and writings that you find in the east, they are quite similar in actuation. When I exercise, it is slow and concentrated. I try to listen to my body as much as possible and incorporate my breathing in with the physical exertion that I am putting my body under. The kettlebells assist with this, since their ballistic dead weight require my whole body’s concentrated force and energy to move them through space.
Suddenly, with the 28, I hit a brick wall again- the limitations of my strength, the awareness that my body is fragile and needs to train more, the fact that I will have to work hard to master the physics of propelling 62 pounds of slag metal through space, but gracefully.
I love it. It scares me and exhilarates me at the same time.
My approach to keeping healthy is quite Spartan: keep it simple, do exercises that can be performed anywhere without some special environment, be consistent, listen to my body and feel whether it is tired or not, and push or conserve energy accordingly.
I just made a great new friend through the kettlebells who just happens to be a long time meditator as well. We were both presently surprised by the coincidence, and both have the same desire to take physical cultivation into the world of contemplation and mind training. Where it should be!