Exercise used to be another way to hide from my emotions. With predictability, rules and routine, it felt safe. Plus, under the façade of pursuing health, exercise had become the most socially acceptable addiction. There was no shame in pursuing fitness, even as my desire to run away from my emotions became greater than my desire to connect.
Now – I move,
To be moved.
I move to look into my heart and see what’s there. I move to face my emotions and transmute them through motion. I feel my body’s capacity for spiritual expression and connection. Sometimes this makes me feel powerful. Other times I feel weak and defeated. Most importantly, I’m connecting to my emotions enough to feel them.
Checking in to see how I’m feeling and letting the movement flow from there is intuitive. But it also flies in the face of much of the ‘fitspo’ out there. Most fitness plans recommend that you do not check in with yourself; instead, click-bait titles recommend you follow a predetermined routine in order to achieve a specific outcome. ‘Follow this 30 day weight-lifting routine to drop 3 dress sizes’, ‘tone up in 28 days’, ‘abs in 8 minutes per day’.
I’m over it.
This year I’ve committed to following principles that inspire me to check in with myself, the greatest person to author my own fitness plan. After years of letting my motion be dictated by somebody else, it is taking practice to get in touch with my intuition (ironic, no?), but these reminders are helping to guide the way:
- Check in with what you need (listen to BIG self, quiet your small self)
When I listen to my small self, I start to compare. I wonder why I’m not more flexible, faster, or stronger. And in turn, I push myself beyond my natural limits. In these moments, I overdo it and end up injured or exhausted. When I listen to my BIG self, I recognize that my exercise needs change over the course of a week, month, and year. Sometimes my schedule allows for daily exercise; other times, I need sleep much more than I need a yoga class. Intuitive movement means listening to your body, mind, and spirit. If it hurts any of them – stop.
- Choose your church
What environment allows you to express your spirit? If it’s not a gym, don’t go. If it’s not alone, choose community. Find the surroundings that help you to recognize the inherent joy within motion and facilitate a connection with your body.
- Celebrate movement
Exercise is not a punishment. And if it feels like it – you’re doing it wrong. Abandon the idea that you ‘should’ do a certain type of movement and you can create the space to discover the type of movement that speaks to you. It may not look like your best friend’s routine, or one you read about in a magazine. But it will allow you to celebrate….you! And while we’re at it, remember that movement is not to ‘work off’ what you ate or ‘earn dessert’. You are not a prisoner or victim to your choices.
- It is not a means
Just as you don’t need to move to earn food, you don’t need to be motivated to earn muscles to move. The reward of movement is intrinsic; when you are motivated solely for the ‘end’ (weight loss, muscle gain, increased flexibility), you lose motivation. Or, you reach the end and are dissatisfied that it doesn’t feel as good as you hyped it up to be. Move because you were made to move and you desire to celebrate your ability to do so.
- Choose love.
When you choose love, you have gratitude for what you can do rather than focus on what you can’t. When I love my body, I don’t worry that it’s not as flexible as someone else’s. I don’t tell myself to ‘push through the pain’. I let go of the idea of ‘no pain, no gain’. You cannot love your body and simultaneously berate it for what it cannot (yet) do. Rise above; choose love.
You are your own experiment. Try something new. If it’s not for you, don’t sign up for a yearlong pass. Move on and try something else. Some of us run, others lift weights, others tap dance. We all intuitively know how to move in a way that serves us, if we can clear out all the noise of other people telling us how to move. Forget what it looks like; no one is watching you anyways.
Rather than X miles, numbers of pounds, or race time, make it a goal to show up every day for your body. Your body is endlessly working for you; create the space to connect with it to uncover what it needs and it will thank-you immeasurably.
Intuitive movement means listening to your body, mind, and spirit. If it hurts any of them - stop. Click To Tweet You cannot love your body and simultaneously berate it for what it cannot do. Rise above;choose love. Click To Tweet Forget what it looks like; no one is watching you anyways. Click To Tweet