Monday, September 23, 2013

What is Abundant Health?


The whole idea for my latest book, “Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit”, came about because I feel that there is a serious separation of health and fitness in the fitness industry now-a-days.

Around the turn of the century, those involved in “fitness”, took part in what is referred to as “physical culture”. You see, back then, they felt it important to develop not only the body, but the mind as well. The focus was on total human development, not just the physique and strength.

Back then there were no strongmen, powerlifters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, or what have you. Iron weights of all types, barbells, dumbbells, clubs, and kettlebells or ring-weights, were lifted for the development of strength. In addition mobility exercises, exercises performed with very light weights, body-weight exercises, stretching, and other forms of personal care were practiced for restoration and health.

For instance, George “the Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt states in his book “The Way to Live in Health and Physical Fitness”, “I have already pointed out that increase of strength means betterment of health and increase of comfort, so that every man must profit by such increase of strength, even if he does not intend to acquire it for professional or other pecuniary purposes.”

Foods were eaten in their natural state, and from what I’ve read the focus was on fresh, raw, and whole food consumption.

Hackenschmidt goes on to say, “I believe I am right in asserting that our Creator has provided food and nutriment for every being for its own advantage. Man is born without frying pan or stewpot. The purest natural food for human beings would, therefore, be fresh, uncooked food and nuts.”

In addition to sound nutrition and physical practices, Hackenschmidt thought is was of the utmost importance to develop the mind. The following is another passage from his book, “The Way to Live in Health and Physical Fitness”:

“One ought to avoid all unnecessary worry and exciting thoughts, and to cultivate a firm tranquility of mind. I have formed the conviction that all unnecessary sorrows and cares act in all circumstances harmfully upon one’s constitution. Melancholy reflections will in no way influence Fate, whereas one may weaken the constitution by the waste in energy while indulging in them. The best is to do one’s duty conscientiously, and to leave the rest to Him who guides our destiny.”

To me this is the basis of Abundant Health, developing a strong mind, body, and spirit. The founding fathers of the physical culture movement had it right. Half a world away, the monks of the Shaolin Temple practiced a similar lifestyle, they devoted equal time to the development of the mind, body, and spirit. Throughout time and history there are many examples of people and groups who have practiced this, unfortunately though, it seems like we are getting further and further away from this idea.

Today people are more disconnected and disengaged than ever. Due to technology, we have more access to health and fitness information, yet the waistlines are expanding and obesity rates are on the rise. Not to mention horrible diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are more commonplace now than ever before.

So what gives? I asked my Taiji teacher this question. His reply was that people are not developing themselves internally. Fitness is very superficial, it’s all about 6-pack abs, bulging biceps, and a massive bench press. Why do we believe the fallacy that it is impossible to be healthy, strong, and possess a lean and muscular physique? Why must we choose to be a “strength specialist” or a “physique specialist” or an “energy-work specialist”? I see no reason why meditation, qigong, yoga, and weightlifting, have to be mutually exclusive.

If we truly want abundant health, we must first strengthen our minds and commit to it’s attainment. Then we must begin our “body work” on the inside. We must learn to cultivate and conserve our energy, we must learn to de-stress, relax and allow our energy to circulate freely. Once we have cleaned up the inside, the outside will take care of itself and we will radiate health, strength, and mental / physical / spiritual well-being.

I propose what I believe to be a very effective plan for the attainment of abundant health in my latest book. It seems that many have the proper physical training habits in place, but are neglecting the mental development, energy work, and proper nutrition. If this was not the case, people would be living longer, healthier, and more vibrant lives free of the diseases and ailments that we’ve come to accept in the later stages of life.

I hope you consider adopting a lifestyle dedicated to the attainment of abundant health, just as the founding fathers of the physical culture movement did.

I guess sometimes we have to look back in time in order to move ahead into the future!


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