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🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. Exercise mindfully by focusing on the feeling of love towards oneself and avoiding comparison to others, while also balancing self-care and sanity. Embrace a counterintuitive mindfulness practice and lower the bar on the notion of being in our bodies without giving it up.
  2. Instead of focusing on weight loss and physical appearance, society should celebrate the incredible journey of pregnancy and the strength and beauty of the mom body. Women should shift their perspective on their bodies and appreciate them for creating life.
  3. Our bodies are amazing and do miraculous things for us. We need to shift our mindset to appreciate and celebrate them instead of judging them based on appearance. Mindfulness and redirecting negative self-talk can help us achieve this.
  4. Show appreciation and love to your body, embrace aging with pride. Don't let societal standards make you hate yourself—set your own ideals and celebrate who you are.
  5. Practicing self-appreciation through intentional routines and breaking societal norms can help us regain a healthy relationship with our bodies, which ultimately benefits our relationships with others. It's important to examine any underlying issues that may be contributing to negative self-perception.
  6. Exercise should be approached from a place of joy and gratitude, and taking breaks to meditate on feelings can lead to emotional growth. Physical limitations can also provide opportunities for personal freedom.
  7. Trust your body's messages and build a balanced relationship with yourself. Take care of your body without being driven solely by aversion and be kind to yourself. Remember that wellness is not just about routine or eating habits but about finding a balance that works for you.
  8. Embrace the journey of self-improvement by experimenting and exploring what works best for you. Don't be too hard on yourself and learn from your experiences, surrendering to unexpected events can lead to unexpected growth.
  9. True wellness involves listening to our bodies, practicing gratitude during exercise, and mindful eating. Counterprogram noxious thoughts and appreciate our bodies. Consistent practice leads to a deeper level of wellness.
  10. Don't write off something just because it seems unappealing or unfamiliar. Separating practical wisdom from esoteric claims, practicing self-compassion, cultivating gratitude, and taking a long-term approach to self-improvement can lead to positive changes.
  11. Listening to our intuition and body can lead us to a more relaxed and trusting view of ourselves, rather than constantly feeling the need to fix ourselves. By embracing our natural intelligence and practicing self-forgiveness, we can develop self-compassion and discover our true selves.
  12. Discipline is essential, but we need to cultivate a positive motivation behind it. Self-hatred and fear can only lead to the opposite of freedom. To achieve true freedom, we need to let go of the habit of self-flagellation and talk to ourselves from a place of love and acceptance. The Dharma guides us towards awakening through softening, not self-punishment.
  13. Move towards healthy habits at a pace that feels safe and motivated by gratitude and helping others. Trust and forgive ourselves for past actions and prioritize self-care.
  14. By paying attention to our bodies, we can make healthier choices and reduce external pressures. This practice is accessible and can be done multiple times a day, leading to a mindful and healthy lifestyle. Trusting ourselves and releasing the burden of responsibility can lead to a deep kind of freedom.
  15. Celebrate even the small moments of feeling our body, as being present helps us down-regulate our nervous systems. It's okay to tune inward and let go of attachment to our bodies through Buddhism's teachings.
  16. Embracing our bodies with love and trust brings freedom, while detachment may be harmful. Accepting and celebrating every aspect of our bodies can lead to a positive and fulfilling relationship with them.

📝 Podcast Summary

A Buddhist teacher's insights on mindful exercise

Cara Lai, a former social worker, psychotherapist, and Buddhist teacher, shares her insights and practices on how to exercise without being driven by shame, self-loathing, or comparison to others. She talks about the impact of Lyme disease and pregnancy on her relationship with her body and how she found a way to strike a balance between taking care of her body and staying sane. She shares a counterintuitive mindfulness practice for regular exercisers, when and why to purposely do things that are bad for you, why it's okay to resist being in our bodies, and how to lower the bar on this contemplative cliché without giving it up. She accents the importance of the feeling of love towards the baby in easing and finding relief.

Shifting Society's Perception of Pregnancy and Celebrating the Mom Body

Pregnancy is a beautiful rite of passage that women should be celebrated for, not shamed. Instead of asking about weight loss, people should celebrate the mom body and not make it a problem. Women's bodies go through a lot during pregnancy, and it is amazing how they create life. The focus should be on celebrating the journey, not being ashamed. It is also important for women to shift their perspective on their bodies and appreciate them for what they are doing rather than scrutinizing them. Society should celebrate mom jeans as much as playboy boobs when the milk first comes in, and recognize the beauty in being a mom.

Shifting Our Perspective to Appreciate Our Bodies.

We tend to judge our bodies based on appearance, but in reality, our bodies are incredible and do miraculous things for us all the time. It's important to shift our habits around how we talk to ourselves about our bodies and appreciate them for their intelligence and uniqueness. This practice can be difficult due to years of cultural conditioning, but becoming aware of our negative self-talk and redirecting it can be a form of mindfulness. Celebrating the person we are now, instead of comparing ourselves to a younger version, is another way to shift our perspective and appreciate our bodies.

Embracing Aging and Self-Love

We should celebrate and appreciate aging and our bodies more than we do. Instead of scrutinizing and feeling ashamed of our bodies, we can touch them with care, appreciation, and love, even in the shower. Your body has accumulated wisdom and has done a lot for you. We can intentionally change the narrative around aging and our bodies. Don't let anyone make you hate a part of yourself. Set your own standards and ideals, be happy with the way you are and celebrate it. It's time to respect our bodies more and stop feeling ashamed of them.

Societal rules on body image and exercise can make us lose touch with our body and harm our relationship with it. Practicing self-appreciation can counteract this, but it's easier said than done. We need practices and routines to counter-program and rewire our perceptions. It's important to be aware that negative thoughts about ourselves have external consequences and can affect those around us. Approaching ourselves with care, respect, and openness allows us to be more available to others. Being irreverent and breaking societal norms can help us reclaim our sense of self and appreciate our unique selves. Dependency on routines to feel present can be a sign of deeper issues that need to be examined.

Accepting negative feelings and examining motivations for exercise.

Exercising is not the only way to cope with negative feelings. Sitting with them and accepting them can lead to a sense of freedom and the ability to be present. It's important to approach exercise from a place of joy and gratitude rather than fear and self-flagellation. Taking breaks from exercise and meditating on the feelings that arise can help develop this mindset. It's also important to examine the motivations behind exercise and healthy living to ensure they are coming from a positive place. Physical limitations can also provide opportunities for growth and freedom, as demonstrated by Cara's experience with being unable to run due to health issues.

Wellness is a unique journey, not a one-size-fits-all solution.

It's important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for wellness. The right amount of exercise and diet varies from person to person. What's most important is listening to our body's messages and trusting them. Wellness is more about our relationship with ourselves than our routine or eating habits. We should take care of our bodies to the best of our abilities, but it's not healthy to be driven solely by aversion. We can't fix all our problems with meditation alone and shouldn't put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to do so. We have some responsibility for our bodies, but there's also so much about them that we don't control. It's about finding a balance.

The Importance of Self-Exploration and Acceptance for Personal Growth

Experimentation and self-awareness are key to understanding our own needs and desires for self-improvement. It's important to explore and question societal norms to find out what works best for us. Don't be too hard on yourself and try new things without fear of failure. Accepting the process as a multi-year or even multi-lifetime endeavor can help us make peace with our own shortcomings and be more present in the moment. Surrendering to unexpected events can also lead to sudden psychological/spiritual growth. Ultimately, we need to be honest with ourselves and learn from our experiences instead of simply telling ourselves what we should or shouldn't do.

Moving beyond Physical Health: Achieving True Wellness

True wellness is far beyond physical health. It involves the freedom of our hearts and minds. Often, we carry out other people's agendas and conform to external standards instead of listening to our bodies. Practices like gratitude during exercise and mindful eating can be cheesy but they work. We should be grateful for our bodies that do work and use them to counterprogram against noxious thoughts. Though it's easy to slip back into old patterns, we should try to keep up with the practices for a deeper level of wellness. This interview provides practical steps for people to achieve such wellness.

The Benefits of Exploring What You Think You Hate

Exploring things that you think you hate may lead to discovering things that you like or benefit from. It is important to separate far-out esoteric claims from practical and relatable wisdom. Multitasking in developing self-compassion and friendliness towards yourself takes practice and time. Being grateful helps counter program against pushing, striving, self-laceration, self-judging, and comparison that are deep in our culture. It is essential to relax and perceive self-improvement as a multi-year project or process to avoid feeling like there is something wrong with you if you do not achieve instant results. Dan Harris' willingness to examine and take woowoo seriously despite being allergic to cliches helped him shift some habits in his professional career.

Trusting in Our Instincts and Developing Self-Compassion

Being open to unexpected obstacles or interruptions can lead to big insights and growth. It is important to listen to our instincts and honor our body's desires for comfort and safety, which can lead to developing self-compassion. Trusting our instincts can lead to discovering our true selves and learning to view our lives in a relaxed and trusting way instead of constantly feeling the need to fix ourselves. We should not view ourselves as above nature, but rather as a part of it, and honor and respect the different kinds of intelligence we possess. Deep self-forgiveness and a body-related Buddhist practice can aid us in this process.

The Importance of Motivation in Discipline and Letting Go

Discipline is important, but the motivation behind it matters. Self-hatred and fear do not justify the means, and can lead to the opposite of the freedom we seek. The release we're seeking is a receptive, open, and relaxed energy, rather than forceful. We need to undo the habit of self-flagellation and talk to ourselves from a place of love and acceptance if we want to achieve true freedom. The Dharma shows us that awakening does not come from self-flagellation, but from letting go of our grip and softening.

Gradual Progress and Self-Compassion

It's important to be gentle with ourselves and recognize that unhealthy habits cannot be forcefully stopped. Instead, we should gradually move towards healthy habits that make us feel safe until we feel ready to release and try something new. We should also look at what motivates us to exercise and connect it to a deeper purpose of gratitude and helping others. The deep knowing and trust of ourselves is accessible and we can observe that every movement and feeling towards comfort was an attempt to help us. Thus, we can forgive ourselves for feeling responsible and shift towards a place of trust and forgiveness.

Tuning Into Our Bodies for Mindful Living

By paying attention to our bodies throughout the day and making small adjustments to make ourselves more comfortable, we can learn to listen to our bodies and make healthier decisions about what we eat and how we exercise. Tuning into our bodies allows us to make choices based on what our bodies need rather than arbitrary goals or external pressures. This practice is simple, accessible, and can be done multiple times in a day. By learning to trust ourselves and release the burden of responsibility, we can move towards a deep kind of freedom. Getting out of our heads and into our bodies can help us make saner decisions and lead us towards a more mindful and healthy lifestyle.

The Importance of Tuning Into Our Bodies

Connecting with our bodies may be difficult as there are discomforts, tensions, traumas, and chronic pain. It's okay if the process of tuning inward is hard. We need to appreciate ourselves for trying and celebrate even the small moments of feeling our body. Feeling just one part of our body, like the fingertips or toes, helps us be present and down-regulate our nervous systems. Being present cultivates a mind that can be present and trust that it's okay to tune inward as we don't have to be in the center of the storm. Buddhism also teaches tuning into the disgusting aspects of the body as a way to let go of attachment to our bodies.

Detachment versus Self-Love: A Healthier Approach to Our Bodies

The Buddha's practice of detachment from the body may have been helpful for people in a culture where people had different relationships with their bodies, but for women, in particular, who already face self-hatred and disgust for their bodies, it can be harmful to promote detachment as the way to liberation. Instead, embracing and loving our bodies, quirks, and all, and feeling completely at home in them can lead to freedom. Trusting our bodies and seeing all their aspects as fodder for freedom, rather than adoring them and believing a perfect body leads to freedom, is a healthier mindset that can promote a more positive and fulfilling relationship with our bodies.