Friday, August 10, 2012

Mid Summer Thoughts: 2012

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Now that summer is half over, I am taking this time to evaluate where I am in the goals that I set at the end of spring. These goals involve my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In this post, I will describe how the process of obtaining my goals has been to date. The overall theme is leaving space.

Mid summer 2012
Physical: this area has been the most difficult to manage which surprises me. In summary, the goals that I set for the summer are: 
  • Increase gym workouts from 3-4 to 5-6 days every week
  • Increase gym time from 1 to 1.5 hours each day
  • Eat at least 1 meal consisting only of raw food every day
  • Increase massages from occasionally to 3 times a month
I increased my days and time because this was something that I planned to do all along. I changed my diet and increased the number of massages because I wanted to explore how they would affect my endurance and flexibility respectively.

To date, I have found getting to the gym and going through my regular routine an extra 2 to 3 days to be a challenge. This means that with the exception of 2 weeks, I have kept my goal. This has been difficult to accept because in body building, I have met every goal that I set for myself in the past. 

Even when I trained to run in a marathon, which at the time was the most I had ever challenged my body, I met every goal that I set. I am motivated, still. My mental attitude is fine. My health couldn't be better. Even though, I took a break 2 weeks in a row. My mind searched for reasons why getting to the gym and completing my workout had become more difficult.

Finally, while studying for my physical fitness trainer certification, I realized that the breaks were necessary for my body to recover. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have suffered an injury. I know this because my body showed signs of becoming stressed. For example, I noticed that the weights that I lifted felt much heavier than usual. I experienced soreness after working out. I also needed more rest during the day, and I wasn't  experiencing my post-workout boost that I so enjoyed. I decided that my body was telling me that it needed space to adjust to the changes. 

In other words, because my diet had even less fat, and I increased the level of exercise, my body needed to take a few days to refine processing food to fuel. Because I had not varied from changing my diet, in fact some days I had more than one raw meal substitute, my body had to catch up at the molecular level. This is a good thing, although a bit difficult to experience. This is how real change occurs.

To combat what I felt, I made sure that I got plenty of water, sleep (at least 6 hours uninterrupted every night), and if I had to, I got a little sleep during the day. I did not do that often, though, because I really hated sleeping during the day and this can interfere with sleeping at night. I also found that massage therapy was very helpful with my tight, sore muscles and stiff shoulder. 

Mental: I have been successful in mentally letting go of my belongings. I have also succeeded in letting go of a long held perception. This was not easy, still, but it was necessary for my peace of mind. As I continued to let go, I found that focusing on what I did at the gym was even stronger. This was letting me know, through practical application, just how much mental distraction drained my energy, and kept me from fully focusing on my goals. An important example to hold on to, is it not?

Part of letting go is creating the space for your mind to find a way to incorporate your new emotional reaction into daily life. This is where the function of dreams come into play. Dreams are valuable in helping your mind process new information and feelings. I share this very recent example to illustrate how this works. If the following does not make sense, I do hope that you will be patient with me. This is the first time that I have shared my dream in such a public way.

About a week ago, I had a dream that I needed to urinate in a major way. I was not at home and the stall that was available was very nasty--full to overflowing onto the floor with feces. There was no way that I could use the stall or toilet. Some of you may have had dreams like this when your bladder is full. This is one way that you deal with the conflicting realities of wanting to continue to sleep, while needing to wake up and relieve yourself at the same time. 

This dream was different because when I woke up, I realized that I didn't need to use the bathroom. At first, this was confusing because I had never had a dream like that when I didn't actually need to use the bathroom. Consequently, I searched for possible reasons for having this odd dream. Still in bed, I checked my physical state. Physically, I felt fine, and had not been dealing with any challenges over the past few days that would lead to me having the dream. When I checked my mental state, I then remembered that as I fell asleep that night a particular church from my past as a minister was on my mind. 

I remembered how much I believed back then that I needed to be recognized by the pastor and congregation to be valid. I wrongly linked having the stamp of approval from a religious organization to my credibility as a minister. During this time in my life, I put little energy toward understanding and fulfilling my call from God and a great deal of energy toward finding a place where I could function as a minister. That struggle now over, I remembered thinking about how good it felt to be free as I relaxed in my bed that night. 

Also on my mind was the time that I was first called by a group of people to be their pastor. I remembered the ceremony, where they officially claimed me as their pastor, and how much more that moment meant to me. To this day, even though we no longer meet, I still live to honor the faith they showed in my call to ministry. This is when the dream that I had the night before made sense. 

In my dream, I was finally accepting and coming to terms with the fact that for years--during seminary, after seminary--I spent far too much energy, one minute was too much, trying to walk into a stifling stall and sit on a crock of shit when I didn't need to. All I needed was to listen to what my heart was telling me, and live to become the person I was meant to be.

Spiritual: I really haven't given this one a great deal of energy because my decision in this area was made several months ago. All that was left was to consciously incorporate the decision into my life so that it became an attitude. 

Organized religion, especially for me, especially for women is, at best, counter to what I believe and to what I hear God telling me in my heart. At its worst, religion is toxic. Any doubt that I may have had about this was erased last fall.

I had the opportunity to go back to a religious institution and revisit people there from my past. What I saw and experienced was not pretty. In addition, I caught a glimpse of the person that I had to be to survive that setting as long as I did. In my life today, the people there, many were there years ago when I was, became just another clear example of how much organized religion is a negative force in our communities and lives.

The only further comments that I can add about this area of my life are these:
  • If God is everywhere, why do we need to sit, stand, kneel, in a particular structure and hear the monologue of a certain type of leader to experience God's presence? 
We DON'T. 
Yet, some of us still do.
  • If God is love, why is it okay for some people to condemn and blame others?
It ISN'T. 
Yet some of us do so even at the foot of the cross.
  • If God is all seeing, how can it be okay to keep our mouths and eyes shut when people are used or abused?
It ISN'T. 
Yet, we ignore this on the way to our religious institutions.
  • If God is all loving, what gives us the liberty to kill, insult, hate, beat, abandon, ostracize, gossip about, alienate... each other in the name of some religion?
It ISN'T. 
Yet religious institutions are founded on scapegoating--the exclusion of some to define membership.
Bottom line, I'm learning more about what motivates, immobilizes, mobilizes, stifles, or invigorates me. This means that I am becoming even more able to recognize the people and places I should avoid and those I should embrace. Sometimes the learning process is easy, sometimes difficult. Always, it is important.
Update: 8/12/12
Today was the first time that I felt the post-workout boost that I have missed since starting the changes described above. Today was also the first day that I completed my training routine without excessive effort. 

These two things lead me to think that I have rounded a physical corner. In other words, my body appears to have found a balance between the eating changes and the training increase. I'm quite happy about this.

From my PowerLife to yours,