In ChiRunning, ChiWalking and ChiLiving, freedom is an important theme that we explore and work towards in its myriad facets: freedom of movement, freedom to make the best choice for yourself, freedom to respond creatively in the moment.

The 4th of July is the commemoration of America’s freedom from British rule. The colonists had come to this land because their hearts and minds were set on starting a new life and finding a place where they had freedom: religious freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom from a foreign entity that sought to control their lives, economically, politically and socially. They sought the freedom to choose what was best for them.

We have all experienced tyranny in one form or another, both external and internal. However, one of the most insidious forms of conflict comes from our own mind. As many spiritual teachers have said, “We are not our thoughts.” But, until we fully realize what that means, they will continue to control us. We are often oppressed with needless worrying, poor choices, and reactive and predictable responses that dictate how we live. Our minds control most aspects of our lives, sometimes making choices that don’t promote our best interests and often times leading to some level of imbalance or excess.

On the other hand, some people are enslaved by their body’s instinctual needs (or sensory cravings), which can lead to excesses such as too much food, too much comfort, or too much or too little exercise.

The best way to ensure “freedom” from the chains of either the mind or the body is to have them working together as a team where one keeps the other in check and one informs the choices of the other so that we are guided by a healthy, intelligent blend of both our physical and intellectual “minds.” We call this Body Sensing.

Body Sensing is a powerful tool for personal health and fitness to grow beyond the purely instinctual level of life where we often react without vision or foresight and allow our minds or cravings to be in the driver’s seat of our lives.  The right use of the mind (led by higher impulses of love, service, understanding and vision) combined with a honed and penetrating body-intelligence, creates an inner freedom where you are truly choosing how you want to live your life rather than your actions being dictated by despotic impulses.

You can practice Body Sensing when running or walking. Another great time to practice is while you are eating. Imagine what you want to eat. Check in with your body and see how the idea of eating the meal you have in mind “feels” to your body. Be aware of your eating patterns: you might eat too many sweet foods or crave fatty foods. Combining the knowledge you have of your dietary needs with the feel and sense in your body of what it needs in the moment, will help you make the best choice.

There is little else that will leave you with a clearer sense of inner freedom than Body Sensing the right choice and allowing your actions to be guided accordingly. The result of living a conscious life, one that is balanced and efficient, is that all the positive, moment-to-moment choices you make will directly increase the quality of the rest of your life.

Posted in Lifestyle

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