There are plenty of workout plans to follow.
It is something we don’t hear enough in today’s social media world which can make anyone feel small or inadequate.Scroll through any major Instagram feed for a fitness celebrity or movement the other day. Following fitness movements like Crossfit and Spartan Race may actually do more harm to my psyche than good.
It is ridiculous to think that those beginning their journey should compare to this.
While the intent behind these motivational images may be noble, they are probably doing more harm than good.
The Psychology of Body Image
Psychology Today reports:
“Though the impact of media exposure and body dissatisfaction appears strong in adult males and females, adolescent males and females appear just as vulnerable… Research has demonstrated the depression and despair that women often feel over falling short of the media models presented to them. While men are hardly immune to the social modeling effect, it is probably not a coincidence that women are often held to a higher standard and face greater criticism for falling short. “
Scrolling through images like this distort the progress we make towards our goals, setting us back to a vulnerable and inadequate state of failure.
When I journeyed to Muir Woods a few years ago, I stood in awe among the coastal redwoods, the relative of the giant sequoia. As someone that is always the tallest man in the room, I finally felt the physical convergence of forces much bigger than myself.
With an average age of 500-700 years old, redwoods can grow to nearly 380 feet. They grow tall because of the large amounts of rain, the summer fog which reduces evapotranspiration, the temperate climate, and the rich soil.
But as massive as each of those trees were, they all started as tiny seeds thousands of years ago. And when we only see the end result, we lose sight of the long and tedious road that progress takes. In doing so, we ignore each drop of rain, each dense fog, and each nutrient in the soil that, century after century, enabled it to flourish.
Our beginning cannot compare to someone else’s end.
Churchill on Painting
Winston Churchill, speaking on the art of painting, not politics, knew about the perils of self defeat. His advice extends beyond the borders of painting and offers encouragement to anyone at any stage of self discovery and development.
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND
To overcome social media’s attempts to make me feel inadequate, I find myself flipping back through my quote-notes from Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, one of the great modern Zen classics.
There is wisdom in the way in which he reassures us all of our own significance not matter where we are in our journey. With a beginner’s mind, we can dedicate ourselves to sincere practice, without the thought of gaining anything special.
Here are five reminders from Suzuki’s masterpiece to guide you wherever you are headed.
“We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.”
“The person who can freely acknowledge that life is full of difficulties can be free, because they are acknowledging the nature of life – that it can’t be much else.”
“We should be concentrated with our full mind and body on what we do; and we should be faithful, subjectively and objectively, to ourselves, and especially to our feelings. Even when you do not feel so well, it is better to express how you feel without any particular attachment or intention. So you may say, “Oh, I am sorry, I do not feel well.”
“But if you make your best effort just to continue your practice with your whole mind and body, without gaining ideas, then whatever you do will be true practice.”
“When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do.”
*If you found wisdom in these ideas, please share this post with one person that could benefit from it.