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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

It's not about the abs

Can you ask the faeries for sensible daily advice? You can ask, but you might not always get. And then, sometimes you do. Having worked out yesterday, I thought this morning I would ask what I could do to sustain the momentum, and like yesterday's draw, one card led to another. (Heart of Faerie Oracle by Brian Froud.)

Heart of Faerie Oracle, Froud
What can I do keep up the momentum with the working out? 
I need to figure out what is keeping me captive. The reason I have become resistent to working out has to do with being held captive by something. The Heart of Faerie Oracle companion book says the Captive Man shows us that we are in thrall to false ideals that may be harming us. Of course I probably do have false ideals where the issue of fitness and health are concerned. First, I have perfection in mind as a standard against which I measure myself. Most of us have a tendency to do this, some of us more than others. Second, I have a false ideal that eating well and working out will weave some sort of barrier against ageing, illness and pain. That's something most of us have a tendency to do, too. We don't do it consciously, but somewhere inside us, we feel we've made a deal: If I do 'this' (whatever it is) then you (the universe, I guess) promise that 'that' won't happen to me. If I cook a homemade meal every night and keep the house looking great, my husband will never have an affair. If I go to church every Sunday then I won't ever have any doubts or worries to plague me. If I workout to a strict regime and eat well and lose weight and do my best, then I won't get old, get sick or die. These thoughts are not something we consciously do, because they're  irrational. It's called 'magical thinking' (at least I call it that) and it's not at all an example of skillful means. So when something happens to break the deal (I worked out and did well and still my knees are dodgy and I got plantar fascitis--or even less logically, I worked out and ate well and still I lost my job), then we say, 'Screw it, who cares, this doesn't work. Bring on the Doritos.' We may not know we're thinking that way, but we probably are.

Heart of Faerie Oracle, Froud
Just to be sure I was on the right track, I asked: What is it that is keeping me captive? The Queen of Owls wasn't sparking much in my intuition, so I had a look at the companion book again and got a jolt - 'When your physical body becomes the only thing you can focus on, turn to this bright gentle being.' Her key words are physical healing, wholeness and wellness. And this is the thing that is keeping me captive - too much focus on the physical body. I do of course dislike the imperfections of my body. I mean, I know it's not perfect when I'm at what I consider my ideal weight and fitness level, but at least then I feel proud to be living in it, and like dressing it, and sit up straight and like to catch glimpses of myself in the mirror. But when I feel out of kilter--I've put on weight, or I haven't worked out and have lost muscle tone -- then I feel very, very judgemental of myself and I don't really care so much what I wear as long as it covers me up and isn't too tight, and I don't feel so confident. The Queen of Owls is telling me that to get back to where I want to be, physically, I actually have to not focus so much on the physical. Or rather, not focus on it solely.

Heart of Faerie Oracle, Froud
Okay, so if I don't focus on the physical what am I supposed to focus on? The Joy of the Future card comes up. (And just out of curiosity, I peeked to see what card was next in the deck and it was The Lady of Joy, so...) This card advises me to focus instead on the present moment. In typical faerie fashion, the card that advises me to stay in the now makes reference to thinking about the future, when in fact it's advising me not to think about the future. How can I think about the future without thinking about the future? By living in the now. Because if I live in the now, I am not worrying about the future, and when I'm not worrying about the future, I am taking joy in the future. Yeah, of course. Obviously.

But seriously, I know what this is getting at. I remember what life was like when I was doing well with my diet and exercise. I actually cultivated this exact stance - I didn't worry about the consequences of my actions, but focused instead on the action itself. When I worked out, I was working out. When I ate a bowl of strawberries, I was eating a bowl of strawberries. And, yes, I did take smug pleasure in drinking 8 or more giant glasses of water a day and snacking on strawberries and rice cakes while those around me ate crisps, and being able to do 40 press ups on my toes. But the pleasure came from these actual things, not so much as insurance against some big bad future. And so, by taking pleasure in the moment, I was also feeling the Joy of the Future. I felt a little a glimmer of that yesterday when I was doing my workout. The joy of movement in that moment, without worries about whether the time spent working out would 'pay off' in less flab on the upper arm or a smaller butt. And that is really the secret to the whole process.

So, yeah, you can ask the faeries about mundane daily things. What's my mantra for today then? 'Right now in this moment, I am not eating fudge.' :)

1 comment:

  1. Ha, those faeries sure have got you pegged :) Lovely reading, I love the way you flowed from one card to another in this kind of conversation! And good luck finding your Joy of the Future in the moment - should be easier now you're walking (only getting round to reading blogs now my travels and workshop are over).