Most of my adult life I wondered what it would be like to be a full-time athlete. I’d done professional athletics at various times but it was in conjunction with a full or part-time job. Trying to cram riding, running, swimming into the day after spending eight hours or more at work, or when building your own home, wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind.
I spent a summer at Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in British Columbia, which was delightful and it helped answer my question.
I was writing a book, among other things, but I set my own schedule within the parameters of the guest’s requests. I went hiking, mountain biking, worked out in their gym, swam in the indoor pool, climbed the local mountains and went fly fishing in the evenings.
Some days consisted of as much as 20 miles of hiking, five hours on the bike or climbing to the top of Mount Bowman. Evenings after dinner were usually reserved for fly-fishing on Riley Dam or the stream that runs into it.
Most days began around 5:30 AM in the exercise room and can end as late as 10:30 PM after fishing. Long hours, with an occasional nap in the afternoon, works great for me. Mingling with the ranch’s guests from around the world is an adventure in it’s own right.
By combining the hard physical workouts with the flowing and meditative aspects of T’ai Chi and Qi Gong or yoga with my wife Celinda, who was also at EVR, I was able to effectively balance out my days in a very Yin-Yang way. Yin-Yang being opposites like light/dark, up/down or male/female energies.
By reaching a point of balance, it’s possible to stay healthier, happier and live a more productive life. When all we do is heavy work, we can exhaust our physical energies. The same is true for too much mental and emotional activity. Here’s an exercise that can be done standing, sitting or lying down
If standing, have the feet shoulder width apart and the knees slightly bent. If seated have the feet flat on the floor, the knees level with or lower than the hips. If lying down, assume a position similar to the standing posture. Place the hands in front of the navel, the arms close to the abdomen. Bring the hands together until the fingertips are almost touching. The hands are cupped, the thumbs almost touch and the heels of the hands are about 4″ “part.
Visualize an energy ball between the hands. Feel the warmth or tingling in the palms. Next, move the hands apart as if playing an accordion until the space between the hands is as wide as your hips. Feel the difference in energy between the wide position and when the hands are close.
Breathe in as you move the hands apart and breathe out as you bring the hands closer. The gaze is forward, level and horizontal. A level gaze helps balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Use the imagination to help with visualization. Many studies have proven that visualization can speed up recovery from injuries and disease, there’s no reason that it can’t also be highly effective for injury or disease prevention, it’s just harder to prove in studies and double blind testing. Continue as long as feels right to you.
Simple exercises can help balance out your day and bring you to your center. If all you do is physical exercise, without some mental/emotional balance, you’ll burn out. By adding the Yin-Yang aspect to your day, it’s possible to look forward to each and every day as a new exciting experience and not just another day at work.
Writings from the Taoist religion, about 4000 years old, said that stress and tension were the main contributors to disease. Taoists felt, and still do, that even with the most healthful diet and plenty of exercise, if the inner body is constantly under tension, it’s not possible to assimilate the nutrients from the food. I believe if we exercise in a state of stress and tension we’re degrading the energies of the internal organs. By practicing a few simple exercises that can lower stress and recharge the internal organ energies, it’s possible to realize a longer, healthier more productive life.
I can’t use the word diagnose because I’m not a doctor, so we’ll look for problems using an acupressure theory. If you start at the ends of the toes and massage to the top of the head you’re bound to find some sore spots. If running into the bathroom door in the middle of the night hasn’t caused any of the sore spots, they can be indications that you have an energy blockage, a problem. Find a good acupressure book and see what the sore spot relates to.