Tag Archives: body

Two Monks and A Woman

There is an expression, which says, “where there is ego, there is stress.” That’s why sages throughout the ages have offered the same advice to deal with ego-produced stress: to detach, release, and surrender the ego. Most of us, however, hang on, and cling to stress-producing thoughts, which, in fact, no longer serve our purpose. Prejudice, guilt,
grief and doubt, to name a few, have a heavy gravitational pull on the human soul. Hanging on to old thoughts, attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs stunt our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. While at first they may be useful to get through a given situation, old perceptions gather weight as we attempt to move forward with our lives. Some perceptions act like roadblocks, disrupting the journey altogether. To break the cycle, we must constantly remind ourselves to let go of the perception, and hence let go of the stress.

To remind myself, I always like to keep this story in mind. Two monks were walking from one town to the next on a humid summer day. In silence, they walked for miles under the hot sun along a graveled path. Late in the afternoon, they sat down on the grass and listened to the sounds of water cascading over stones in a shallow riverbed. If the monks kept their pace, they would reach their destination before sunset. After a short while they got up and resumed their trek. Soon they came upon the remains of a washed-out bridge. Built several years previously, it had been destroyed in the spring floods. Without thought, the first monk stepped into the water and proceeded to make his way across the river, careful of his footing; the second monk followed ever so cautiously.

Upon reaching the far bank, the first monk looked up to see a woman approach him. “The bridge is washed out and I cannot make it across and I must get to my village before dark. What am I to do?” she cried.

The first monk offered to carry her back across the shallow moving water. Picking her up, he carefully secured his step with each foot until he placed her down safely on dry land. Then he turned around and forded the stream once more to join his fellow traveler.

The two again walked for miles in silence until the first monk paused for a moment and then sat down. The second monk joined him by his side and began to talk.

“Brother, we have taken vows of chastity. How could you pick up that woman and carry her as you did? You have forsaken your vows,” he admonished.

The first monk answered, “Remember, we have also taken vows of service.” Then he paused for a moment and then said, “Brother, I placed that woman on the banks of the river several miles ago. It is you who still carries her.”

Carrying around useless stress is a heavy burden to both body and soul. Remember to travel light on your journey of life.

-From Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backward, by Brian Luke Seward.

Eat healthy, stay active and stop making excuses

Let Your Body WinFeeling refreshed after a wonderful two-week Colorado vacation with friends and family it’s time to get my body’s insides feeling as energized as my mind and spirit.

Here’s why my body needs help.

We spent a week with close family – three couples and four kids – in Durango, CO. Wonderful cooks in each family showcased their skills creating mouthwatering breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This continued with our Boulder friends, too. I ate heartily at every single meal (boof!) and consumed generous amounts of alcohol over evening card games, laughter sessions and football games.

Now that we’ve returned, we’ll do our annual post-holiday, two-day cleansing apple diet to rid ourselves of our excesses.

I have two additional healthy intentions:
· To switch to one or two meals weekly of beans and legumes, with little or no meat: since my husband is the cook, I must convince him this is a good idea. So, while in Boulder I purchased a bean cookbook. To make this happen I may have to cook these meals – I haven’t cooked for over 27 years.
· To return to my exercise regimen: weekly bicycling, kayaking and Nordic Track plus yoga multiple times a week. I slacked off last quarter due to a variety of reasons, one of which was the cold weather.

If I fail to accomplish these goals, I’ll stay attuned to my reasons – aka excuses, like it’s too cold to kayak today.

Best-selling author Bob Greene, Oprah’s former personal trainer said, “I’ve heard every excuse on the planet – except a good one. Having an excuse is an obstacle that you choose to place in front of yourself. … in general, we do it to justify not changing. When you are out of excuses is when you are ready to change.”

Which excuses justify you not changing? Do your knees hurt? Maybe your job exhausts you so much that you can do nothing when you get home but veg out. Whatever your excuses, bring them to your conscious mind and admit that you just don’t want to do whatever it is you’re considering. Keeping excuses conscious versus automatic (unconscious) gives you more power to change someday.

Also, strengthen your motivation for healthy change by using intrinsic reasons that benefit you rather than someone else. The day of each week I target for my Nordic Track session isn’t a day I say, “Yippee! I get to do the Nordic Track today.” I just do it because I’m committed to strength, energy, health, flexibility, etc., all intrinsic reasons to work out.

Greene encourages you to look for some form of activity that fits you. Distract yourself while doing it if that would help, like watch TV as you march in place. Make a t-shirt for yourself with “No excuses” printed on it. Eat modestly and healthfully five days a week leaving two days to eat whatever you like. Do whatever works for you.

As one reformed couch potato said, “There is no excuse good enough for poor health.”

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Check out her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.