Make exercise a spiritual practice! Learn how to befriend your body and restore a sense of wholeness and well-being. Mindful exercise offers a workout and a "work-in" experience, which cultivates moment-to-moment awareness though the breath and movement. Mindfulness requires an inward direction of attention with patience, courage, and non-judging. Here we begin to trust the body's wisdom to determine what it needs versus what the mind thinks the body needs. You'll learn how to be present for whatever is happening in the moment with self-kindness.
Mindful Exercise is divided into three parts. First Passage: Merging Science and Sacred reviews conventional components of exercise such as fitness evaluations, body composition, cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and flexibility, mode of exercise, and injury prevention. New language and meaning will be introduced to these traditional concepts to create a higher understanding of the exercise experience. Second Passage: Cultivating Present Moment Awareness introduces the practices of mindfulness such as paying attention to the breath, and to thoughts, feelings, and sensations that occur as the body moves. Also included are spiritual practices that have been elegantly woven into the movement experience such as honor, gratitude, compassion, and authenticity. Third Passage: Spiritual Practices and Exercise Trios presents seven spiritual practices, one for each day of the week, with illustrations of their corresponding exercise trios. A specific format for this twenty-minute exercise practice is also presented, and a CD is enclosed that describes how to execute each exercise.
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I have always been in awe of the capabilities of the human body. Almost every job I've held has had something to do with teaching people how to work with their bodies. I knew there must be a higher way to experience exercise than "go for the burn"and "no pain, no gain," and I wondered how I could teach people to work from a place within in order to help them stay motivated.
After graduating from college in the early eighties, I moved to New York City to learn the art of being a personal fitness trainer. My first job was at the Sports Training Institute, which, at the time, was themost reputable personal training facility on the East Coast. It was there that I learned the business of one-to-one fitness training, and soon I began thinking about opening my own fitness studio. After a few years of saving, a partner and I opened a studio on the Upper East Side called The Trainer's Edge. Several years later, with another partner, I expanded the business to Hartford,Connecticut. The Trainer's Edge attracted a diverse clientele--celebrities and others who were successful in many different arenas. I am grateful to share that I was personal trainer to Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Though I have always valued my relationship with each of my clients as precious and unique, clearly this was a high point for the country girl who worked to put herself through college.
The birth of my children marked the beginning of an understanding that I was on a spiritual journey and I felt inspired tocultivate this awareness. In 1998, I completed an internship in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, a program founded and developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. Shortly thereafter, I began teaching mindfulness-based exercise classes. Concurrently, I continued to deepen my yoga practice, which helped me bring an open-heartedness as well as greater clarity to my teaching of exercise. This prepared me for the next leg of my spiritual journey, the one that I hold responsible for awakening the healer within me. A dear friend was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer and asked me to co-coordinate a care-giving group to support her and her family through this experience. That journey truly provided me with opportunities to exercise my spirit beyond what I thought were my capabilities. My friend lived for twenty-one more months and they were times of great wisdom, clarity, and beauty.
Shortly thereafter, I enrolled in a post-graduate program and earned a Certificate in Spirituality, and in the summer of 2002, I completed the Teacher Development Intensive at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. And in the spring of 2003, I attended the First Annual Conference for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society. At the time, I did not know that all this training and education was readying me to manage the most challenging time ofmy life. I thought I was preparing myself to help others but first I would need to help myself.
I navigated through an emotionally and financially devastating three-year divorce which included a seven-day trial. I battled for and was awarded sole custody of my children. I was exposed to yearsof negative publicity related to my ex-husband's white collar crimes which resulted in a ten-year prison sentence. By the grace of God and with the support of family and true friends I have survived and am even beginning to thrive. A combination of faith and skillfulness helped me to dismantle and begin to reconstruct a new life. Inevitably, this has transformed how I work with clients now. I currently teach mindfulness meditation to both individuals and organizations offering professional development, inspirational speaking, and stress reduction courses. Hence, I continue to heal myself while I facilitate the healing of others.
The culmination of all these personal and professional experiences led to my discovering how to teach exercise in a way that would invite the integration of the body, mind, spirit, heart, and soul. And that is what I present in this book. Mindful Exercise has been an inspiration. I prayed or meditated before, during, and after writing every piece, asking for guidance from God, from my angels, guides, my higher self, my ancestors--whoever was willing to help me! Though I realize I have been preparing for this book all of my life, I am also clearly aware that I was just the conduit for this project. My intention is to share the inspiration and insights I have discovered on my journey--most important of which is that exercise can be a sacred experience, a vehicle for cultivating the wisdom of the body.
I presume you picked up this book because you want to improve your physical fitness and you wish to embark upon this journey from a higher place within. You realize that there is something beyond thinner thighs and tighter abdominals. Whoever you are, Mindful Exercise will offer you many benefits and you will be blessed in many ways. Most importantly, you will access your inner quiet and connect with the inherent wisdom of your body.
Be strong then, and enter into your own body; there you have a solid placefor your feet...just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and standfirm in that which you are.-- Kabir
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