Posts Tagged ‘personal growth’

Pillar 5: Health and Fitness

And so we have arrived at the last pillar, the one focusing on the physical well being and the “Health and Fitness” of your body. As mentioned previously, the pillars are not arranged in any particular order, each one of them carries as much weight as the other ones, while simultaneously supporting each other. This is exactly what a habit of being healthy and keeping fit will do to your mental well being as well your physical well being.

I have always liked being active, possibly due to my slight hyperactivity. Sports was my energy outlet where I could let off steam in a controlled and enjoyable way that benefitted me both physically and mentally.

Although I was never particularly fond of the PE classes at school, at that point in time I used to spend hours and hours on the horse back or orienteering or playing badminton or just running around playing. Anything that involved building up and improving a skill or that had a competitive element has always appealed to me massively, and pushed me to do my best, see how far I could go.

Later on I discovered dancing and didn’ t look back. It started off with Dance Hall Reggae, then Jive. But then came Salsa and a life long passion was born. I know I have only been dancing salsa for 10 years, but you just KNOW when you have found your thing. You know, because its something that is so much part of you, you don’t even question it anymore. I did go through a lot of other dances as well such as Lindy-Hop and Swing in general.. They have all been fun, but mainly because I love partnerwork, nothing has yet been able to compete with salsa for my affection…

Then another format of exercise entered the picture. I found Pilates and immediately following my first class I knew I had been lucky enough to find yet another thing that I clicked with. Pilates not only helped me build up my core strenght (something that helped my salsa spins massively!) but helped me just focus on my breathing and isolating muscles for two hours a week, bringing a much needed element of meditation into the picture. The connection and support that existed between the dancing and Pilates at this point was also fantastic. It helped me get to complete new levels of both balance (physical and mental) and fitness (physical health) while improving my posture as well as adding routine to my life.

The main destabilizers in my life have always happened following a disruption in my exercise routine. When you move city or move country or start a new job or go to a new school you somehow end up destabilizing your usual routines, most often this would mean your exercise routine. I have moved quite a few times in my life, and every time I have not paid enough attention to the fact that I should focus on getting my exercising back on track asap, instead of letting that go uncorrected for weeks on end while “settling in”. Having this pillar destabilized will affect your other pillars and your life for sure, maybe not as quickly as if the disruption starts from one of the other pillars, but it will definitely undermine your balance and routine and have consequences beyond the realm of just this pillar.

I experienced the disruptions with all my other moves, except for this one. The disruptions I have noticed following my move to Costa Rica have mainly been withdrawal sympthoms from dancing, something I have not done for months now. But looking at the general picture, I have not felt the same type of destabilization here as I have before. And I think that is mainly because of surfing.

Surfing came into my life with J. He took me down to Cornwall and “threw” me into the freezing water in August last year, and I must say, I enjoyed it immensely. Surfing has everything I like in a sport. It offers me the possibility to cultivate both a skill as well as a meditative mindset, something I find very difficult in everyday life due to all the white noise that I seem to have going on in my head. Surfing has helped me click right into this place, as well as added another form of exercise into my life that helps me stay balanced as well as fit. And I have J to thank for introducing me to it.. 🙂

So to wrap this pillar up, what I want to say is that I think everyone needs exercise in their lives, both for their mental and for their physical wellbeing. Having this element present in your life will bring benefit to all other areas in your life as well. In other words, help support your other pillars.

Deep in Thought

Jack Vettriano PaintingAll my life I have been a slave of my mind while wearing my heart on my sleeve. Anyone who has made this same mistake will recognise how exhausting it can be to let your mind control your thoughts while leaving your heart exposed to life’s twists and turns.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t really realise how much this was affecting me until recently. I think I managed to miss the point for so long, mainly because I never had the tools to really deal with negative thoughts or overwhelming emotion, but also because I never really questioned them as being bad for me.

For as long as I can remember, my way of dealing with emotion is to wallow in it till it subdues. No matter if its positive emotions, that can take you on such amazing personal highs, or negative emotions, that can plunge you down into the deepest valley’s of darkness. For years I actually loved my highs, but did feel quite wiped out by the lows. Nevertheless I thought the lows were acceptable and worth it, even just as a contrast and to make the highs even better.

Whatever it was, I was stuck on this roller-coaster ride and what was keeping me on was my own mind I realise now. And this is where the whole concept of “slave to my own mind” comes into the picture. (I know, it was a long way to get to the point but now we are finally here!) I didnt realise it at the time, but I had given over so much influence to my mind and was letting it run havoc with  my thoughts on a daily basis, and worse still, I didn’t even question it.

The change finally started slowly and quite innocently by me giving myself a big kick in the a** and pushing myself to make small efforts to get back into dancing and all other things I adore in life. Thanks to these small actions and changes in my way of acting, I started affecting my thinking as well. I started to manage to almost chose when to be happy and when to allow a little bit of sadness in my life, something that made me realise how big a deal my own thoughts were playing in how I was feeling.

Surprisingly though for someone who would consider themselves pretty switched on, the real “Aha!” experience with regards to this didn’t come to me until recently when I read about it in a book my mum suggested to me. The book in question is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and it discusses awareness of the moment and awareness of everything within you and around you at every single moment, rather than stressing about what has happened or what will happen. Well, it has some other stuff thrown in as well, but this is the gist of it.

This book, along with its follow up “A New Earth”, are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time, and even more impressive, the author had his spiritual awakening at the age of 29! My gosh.. What have I done by the age of 29, except for wallow in negative thoughts? I finished the book and decided that I really should not allow so much freedom to my mind and so much negativity into my life.

So, inspired by this book, I have started focussing more on the presence, the small positives and the small victories of every day life. Its going ok, but I must say I do fail miserably at this at least once a day thanks to my stubborn mind still wanting to sabotage my daily happiness. But I think we are starting to learn how to coexist, and most importantly, I am learning to shoot down most negative thoughts my mind comes up with before they do much harm.

Having been given some insights about the mind and a few initial tools to handle it with, I am starting to realise how little attention we in the Western World actually give to self exploration during most of our youth and the years we spend attempting to become somewhat educated. It has made me wonder how much you could affect people’s well being by making these tools readily available to them at an early stage, instead of waiting for them to hit a point when they will either succumb to the lows or finally start searching for the tools they need to deal with it all. Why not provide them with the wheel instead of having every single person reinvent it themselves once they realise they need it? I know I would have appreciated having at least a few of the pieces of the damn wheel instead of having had to start from scratch.

Lately, I have been pleased to find myself back on the roller-coaster at times, experiencing fabulous highs, but most of the time I am extremely pleased with the fact that I feel so much more balanced and peaceful if I do focus on blocking out the negativity and just letting in positive thoughts. Funny how easy it is for negativity to sneak into our minds, while positive thinking takes so much more work. What a cruel joke by our creator.


I am feeling a bit lost at the moment.. Well, actually, its not really that widespread. Its more like being lost with certain things, details in the big general picture. Its like fumbling around in one of the rooms in a big house of many rooms, but unfortunately exactly the room you happen to be in happens to be dark within that otherwise lit up house..

I hope you get the picture.

Basically, I am feeling very settled and happy with so many things in life, but seem to have constant issues with what I want to do with my 8hours a day that I have to spend at work. I have had a few weeks now of feeling a bit in limbo with things, these few weeks things in general have not been moving that much at all and this has made my itch for learning new things and doing challenging things quite unbearable.

I know, I know, and yes, I am being told I should sit back and relax and enjoy the ride instead of worrying about the fact that the scenery could be a tiny bit more interesting, or the ride a bit faster or just a tiny bit more exciting and challenging etc. But I have slight problems with doing that. I have always been a bit of a doer. Actually, I am more of an initiator, and I am an excellent initiator if I can hand over the project to someone else as soon as I have initiated it so that someone with more patience can finish it while I get to go on and initiate more stuff..I hear this is typical for people born in the Aries sign, so at least I have an excuse for my behaviour.

Anyways, I have felt this annoying itch now for a while and I think I need to look into adding some PGaD into my life as soon as possible, in other words, I need to look over my Personal Growth and Development strategy. My main problem is I feel totally stagnant at the moment, professionally that is, and unfortunately also somewhat unchallenged. The problem is not that there are no challenges, there are massive challenges in my work. The problem is I have not got the tools to properly approach these challenges.

Secondly, I can count the new things I have learned (at work) these last few months on the fingers of one hand, which according to me is quite unacceptable. You would think that starting a new job would mean that the first few months would be quite tiring and exhausting due to all the new stuff you have to internalize, unfortunately that was not the case in this situation.

So I am considering looking over my PGaD strategy again with the aim of reassessing it, and basically myself adding whatever is needed to it to make me feel a bit more challenged. Its not the end of the world, but I am a bit disappointed that once again everything will be up to me. And yes, I do admit that I was a spoiled brat who did not appreciate all the great trainings and educational opportunities I got to enjoy at Hewlett Packard and Accenture  while I worked with them. If I get another chance like that of trainings on the job I will definitely not waste it or not appreciate it.

But for now, I think I will listen to some more interesting videos about web 2.0 and about my new professional infatuation Sheryl Sandberg and then enjoy my cup of mint tea in silent contemplation with the lovely Sofia in my lap. And after all, things could definitely be worse so I will stop whining now and go look for some challenges. After all, usually in life its up to you to make the most of each day.