Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Back to Basics

DAY 93

I have been ’pumping iron’ for 22 years.

Recently, I chose to step back from the gym because I grew tired of listening to bodybuilders talking endlessly about ‘my body’ and ‘my training’, showing little or no respect for fellow gym members in their quest to be bigger and better than the next man.

I believe that a true bodybuilder is like a sculptor whose job is to remove anything that doesn’t look like the statue.

‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’Michelangelo

This requires trust, open-mindedness and unswerving faith in a certain outcome. Mindfulness is the key.

‘Mindfulness is the art of seeing that every moment has a value of its own. To spotlessly clean a window, or sweep leaves from the backyard, is an physical experience that has its own significance and nobility.’- Mike George

During time spent away from the gym I have taken steps to simplify my life. One of the ways I have done this is to weight train in the back garden, using battered dumbbells, an old stone bench and the ground beneath my feet.

In stepping back, I have found myself again.

Weight training offers lots of opportunities to mediate. Each repetition within a set is a chance to coordinate the breathing with the rep and to breathe deeply  through the muscle, stopping the set at exactly the right time.

Focusing my mind on the centre of gravity during training instead of the working muscles allows the mind to become calm like a quiet lake. That stillpoint in the belly may not be moving at all, even though the arms and legs might be busy. This place in the belly is the centre of gravity.

Intuitive training involves feeling a straight line from the centre of gravity to the working muscles and into the weight. This straight line leads past illusions and points towards the truth.

Training outdoors is simple; an extra-ordinary way of communing with nature and keeping fit at the same time.

Whilst training in the back garden I have been made aware of the passing year. I have felt the sun and rain against my face, listened to the wind talking in the trees, and watched the decaying leaves falling all around me. Supposedly, autumn is the season to take stock and harvest the fruits of personal experience; to acknowledge the silent rhythms of the heart; this endless wave of life and death, in which we all share.

‘Could any way be holier, or more deserving of your effort, of your love and of your full intent?’ ACIM


  1. Hey Nige. Loving the blog. I've never gotten on with gyms for exactly the same reason - too much testosterone amongst the male bodybuilders all wanting to hog the equipment and check themselves out in the mirror - very little friendliness to be found. Pumping iron in the garden sounds like the way to go. Grass roots training, literally.

  2. Such beautiful insight, Nige. You can't even imagine how much this resonates with me. My heart is all a-flutter! I feel this way about yoga, and it was so good to find something for my body to love, and come at it as much for my mind and spirit as for my body--and not for the reason of having a 'perfect' body. I am finding out how much the resistance with the body is akin to life, and how working through resistance with the body, through working it, helps you to approach life more openly. I love how you put your thoughts together. Thank you for taking the time. Ahhh, the beauty!

  3. "Grass roots training," I love that. And I love that you were mindful enough to see that the gym way wasn't your way and that you went out to your garden & found your way--a way that connects rather than disconnects.

    I will apply all of what you've said here to my own exercise...it's all so much more beautiful when we are truly mindful. Thank you for this, Nige.

  4. You are so ALIVE. For me, for so many people, doing exercise is just that - another opportunity to "do", to get something on the "to do" list DONE, so that they can move onto the next thing that needs DOING.

    What I read in your post Nige is that you are fully embracing your BE-ING. You have taught me so much already, and I know there is so much more for me to learn.

    I like what Brooke said about the parallel between resistance in exercise and resistance to life. Great, juicy stuff :)