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The Dark Side of the #Fitspiration Revolution

The Dark Side of the #Fitspiration Revolution

You’ve probably seen the hashtags, references, or pictures of the Fitspiration ‘revolution.’ Personal trainers, fitness enthusiasts, and “I need to get up and exercise” Instragram users all use it.  Why not?! It seems like a motivating type of tool that could provide that fit-inspiration we might need to do physical activity each day! Well, there can be a darker side to this sometimes seemingly innocent “rah rah’s” we need to get up and go. Many individuals, the majority of them women, already scrutinize their body size and shape on a daily basis. We do not need to look further than the diet industry.  It is a very profitable machine that relies solely on women feeling badly about their bodies (and you’d better believe that this industry COUNTS on us and knows they will always have a steady stream of business, depressing as this fact might be!). If there is a ‘quick fix’ to change the way we look, well, we want in! We are bombarded by images of specially molded women (compliments of Photoshop of course, though this secret is never really ‘revealed’ to allow us to use our maximum projections idealizing what it might mean to have a thinner, fitter, not-too-thin, yet not-too-toned body type)! A girl can dream, right?! No, not our daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends, or wives. While we are not going to change our culture of glorifying women’s bodies (the ‘perfect’ body) anytime in the very near future (though we are changing every day, thankfully), we can take control and ownership about how we view, perceive, and treat our bodies.

While there can be some benefits to using #Fitspiration and using some of these images and quotes (typically posted by others) to motivate ourselves, there are others who put up glaringly negative messages about what we ‘should’ look like, what we ‘should’ be doing, and what you ‘could’ look like if you engaged in a variety of healthy and unhealthy practices. All of these driving negative forces can put a vulnerable population (again, mostly women) at risk for beginning a negative cycle of self-abuse with their words, thoughts, and actions. We already disparage ourselves as it is, and way too easily, I might add.  Do we need to add another element to this layer of victimization? In addition, Fitspiration is easily accessible to generations of all women, including young girls, adolescents, college students, young adults, new moms, and our grandmas. If you currently use Fitspiration as a way to stay motivated and it seems like a healthy fit, then maybe the Fitspiration revolution can assist you. That is, your Fitspiration participation helps you stay motivated while viewing yourself in a positive way in regard to body image, physical activity, and nutrition.

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For those that are in the fitness industry engaged in social media, such as personal trainers, be sure that the images, quotes, and ideals you are portraying are healthy, empowering, and positive messages. Note: when you post pictures of yourself and your ‘beach-ready-body’ 1 week after having a baby, though we are extremely happy for you, many women will be triggered by shame, guilt, and self-loathing about their own bodies. Should we take responsibility for every woman’s unhappiness? Absolutely not! But, if you are involved in motivating others in regard to physical activity, nutrition, and health, there needs to be a responsibility in how messages are shared and how they might be perceived.

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Now, if exposure to images, quotes, and energy of Fitspiration fuels a trigger that elicits a venomous self-attack, including self-hatred, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, and the echoes in your head that you are not worthy of putting on a bathing suit, eating something not ‘clean,’ or not ‘allowed’ to sit on a couch to rest, then it may be time to think about your exposure to your friends at Fitspiration. Physical trainers, dieticians, athletic organizations, weekend ‘warriors,’ and casual exercisers, take a pause and reflect. Sincerely, #Empowered and #BodyLove.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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