How to balance action and contemplation to create meaningful change

How we approach our health, fitness and wellness goals makes all the difference! With so much information available, we have to be positively skeptical by not believing everything we hear.

Nicolas Chamfort, French writer, best known for his witty epigrams and aphorisms said  “Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”

I couldn’t disagree more!

I believed he confused contemplation with a contemplative life in which no action was taken. This type of thinking is a product of the dualistic mind, which reads reality in terms of black-or-white, all-or-none and good-or-bad and has little capacity to understand or tolerate the tension of paradox, mystery and contradiction (which is almost all of life).

Richard Rohr so wonderfully and brilliantly acknowledges action’s role in contemplative living:  “There’s nothing to contemplate if action has not been taken.”

The solution then, is to move towards balance, which moves us into the realm of non-dualism and centers on both/and thinking, an inclusive way of knowing that has the patience and maturity to hold the perfect and imperfect nature of people, places, things and concepts together.

This way of knowing realizes that both action and contemplation create transformation and the exclusion of either promotes stagnation, at best.

“Bringing a contemplative posture to a life of compassionate action allows courage to flow naturally and gently from a place of joy, inner strength and peace of mind.” Michael Rizk

How your approach to fitness determines if you will reach your goals

Gerald G. May, in his book Will and Spirit highlights such an important point that directly relates the the health-fitness-wellness-life journey. He distinguishes the difference between willfulness and willingness and defines them as:
– Willfulness: one’s attempted mastery over the psyche
– Willingness: a surrender of one’s self to a way of being
The drivers behind these ways of being couldn’t be further than east is from west. Willfulness, in many ways, is fear-driven and controlling by the very nature of it. The problem here is the rigidity of approach doesn’t allow the person to adapt to the dynamic nature of life. This person is more concerned with being right, maintaining the superior position and saying “I told you so.” A true hustle, through and through.
While on the other hand, willingness is love-centric, vulnerable and has the courage to surrender one’s ways. This perspective is permeable, dynamic is representative of a higher level of consciousness. The person behind this approach understands being wrong is inherent to the process of growth, has an intrinsic sense of self that can tolerate imperfection and can boldly say “I don’t know” or “I was wrong.” This is joy all the way to joy!
You can see this requires more of an identity shift than it does a change in behavior and ironically, crossing this chasm has little to do with action and can only occur by way of contemplation, inner work and pure being. This is where I believe the fitness industry is headed, especially since Gary Gray of the Gray Institute and I will be teaching this to health professionals on October 27th/28th in NYC.

“What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.” Meister Eckhart