True health cannot be achieved in a vacuum. It takes a village. Literally. In the Blue Zones (the areas of the world where people not only live past 100 but also remain in good health past 100) community is key. True health is more than just what we put in out mouthes or do in the gym. It’s about how we view ourselves and each other and, more importantly, how we treat ourselves and each other.
The sanskrit word metta loosely translates into “lovingkindness” or “goodwill”. The practice of metta meditation is done to cultivate a warm heart, both towards one’s self and others. I am no expert in metta meditation, but I am a personal trainer with a penchant for Buddhist philosophy. Sometimes I like to combine the two….we all know that a good workout can positively impact mood, why not layer on a little positive psychology while we are at it?
The following is one way to weave philosophical heart training into your physical heart training (see what I did there?). Next time you are at the gym and feeling a little existential, try the following:
Metta Metabolic Training Program:
For each set, pick two full body exercises that you can perform back to back for 45 seconds a piece. Once you’ve got those down, shift focus to the mind and see if you can implement the following:
Set # 1 Kindness Towards Self: Recognize and then release any negative self talk regarding your performance and your body. Wish yourself happiness in the moment and in this body, not looking towards some future time or future body. Repeat 2x
Set # 2 Kindness Towards a Loved One: Acknowledge how taking care of your body in this moment positively effects your loved ones. Dedicate this workout to them and wish them happiness. Repeat 2x.
Set # 3 Kindness Towards an Acquaintance: Smile at that person you see all the time at the gym but haven’t caught their name. Instead of comparing yourself to them, wish them happiness in their health pursuits. Repeat 2x.
Set # 4 Kindness Towards Strangers: During this last set, wish all people everywhere health and happiness in their bodies and health pursuits. Repeat 2x.
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Post-yoga cuddles…practicing yoga beforehand gave me the patience to read the same book 5 times…