"By adopting a certain physical posture, a resonant chord is struck in spirit." – Bruce Lee
"I have to get my workout in. If I don’t exercise, I won’t be healthy. I don’t want to end up like my parents. I should be smaller and more toned, I need to work harder. I should be ashamed of myself, I have let myself go." These were just some of the thoughts, beliefs and emotions that motivated my own personal physical activity from age 15 to age 27. Every dance class I took, fitness group exercise I taught, walk with a loved one, or designated time for exercise was influenced by my feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, fear and shame. It wasn’t always like that. I remember being a kid and dancing to the Footloose soundtrack over and over again, collaborating with my horse to gallop in the arena, moving countless rocks and sticks to build forts or sneaking off on my bike on gravel roads to go visit my boyfriend three miles away.
What changed around age 15? So many experiences in my life contributed to my judgment or worry about my body, and I would say the strongest contribution was my mind and it’s repetitive, obsessive nature of criticism. The invasive thoughts about how I wasn’t good enough yet, the focus on getting the skill "right," the expectation that I should do more than the last time, or constantly comparing myself to others left me unhappy, exhausted, tense and resentful. By age 23 my back was constantly in need of "help" such as chiropractic adjustments, foam roller massage, pain medication or a heating pad. I was diagnosed with deteriorating neck and cervical disk health, and my posture was collapsing. All of this physical misery and I was fully employed as a Personal Trainer and group fitness instructor. The irony.
Around age 25, while working as a Pilates Personal Trainer at a studio focused on quality of life and movement for wellness, I experienced my first free Friday night talk by Joey Klein. Joey’s presentation was different than anything I had ever heard before. It wasn’t the material that was new, it was his delivery of the message. The focus was on moving toward an experience of life that was centered around peace, love and joy and involved training the mind first. Unlike all the other interventions, movement educators or wellness professionals I had engaged before, he was actually a peaceful person in all the ways one can demonstrate. I wanted that quality of life more than anything else. I began to engage his meditations and personal growth principles. I noticed a theme emerging with each practice. Continue to return the mind to focus on acceptance, openness and being calm or centered. By training the mind towards acceptance, I began placing more attention on what was important to me and started taking my own inspired steps toward health and happiness in my body. I became my own advocate for feeling good and caring for the body. I started choosing only activities that I enjoyed or that I was willing to bring curiosity and openness to. I stopped blaming myself; I stopped blaming others; I stopped feeling sorry for myself; I stopped doubting that I was capable of feeling good and enjoying life in my body. I started studying advanced human anatomy and surrounding myself with people that were vibrant in their movement and life. I accepted myself fully and began creating all kinds of joyful experiences within an active lifestyle. As I was growing and changing, my personal training clients received all I could share and I saw transformation of posture, quality of life and enjoyment of activities increase for each and every one of them ages 13-88. Transformation that came by way of focusing on what life experience and activities they wanted to have as it aligned with their true self or who they chose to be. I supported one client to return to jumping and showing her horse and taking dance again in her 50s. Another client reversed his hunched posture completely after more than 13 years of sitting at a computer job, and took up indoor rock climbing along the journey. One young high school athlete cultivated body awareness and was able to reverse his scoliosis diagnosis, discover strength in his back and return to the sports he enjoyed. Belief, realization of what their vision would mean for them and action forward was the focus. We started by accessing their personal inspiration or spirit first, and the posture change occurred organically and fully afterward, from the inside out.
Just this week alone, I personally relished in 2 hours of Latin dance lessons with over 20 people I just met that night. I enthusiastically rode a bike through hills and raced with others at 5:30 in the morning in an indoor cycle class and I confidently invited a friend to join me in multiple cartwheels down a green turf runway. In addition, I joyfully participated in dusting and vacuuming to thumping music at home, with my romantic partner. Then I wrapped up the week by hosting an event where I completed a personal art project with over 50 other community members doing the same. This is one inspired life I live in my inspired body. Every activity chosen in alignment with the quality of life experience that I most value: joy and freedom in movement with connection to others. Every posture I am in, consciously chosen to enhance my experience of life in this body. By way of creating a vision of my life to focus on experiencing new thoughts and beliefs to support it, and a complimentary or kind attitude towards my body, I have struck the chord of my spirit playing in this gift of life. And, oh yeah, my body is now pain-free and my neck no longer deteriorated. I am vibrant.
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Sarah Breedlove consults with private individuals and groups to create ease in posture and all physical activity. She has been sharing the power of body awareness through human anatomy, movement health education, and mindfulness since 1995.
Before she experienced Joey Klein, Sarah believed life was all about the "doing" and "striving for perfection" and experienced deep pain in her close relationships, career and in her physical body because of it. Implementing the practices of Conscious Transformation enabled Sarah to realize true experiences of confidence, personal freedom, physical vitality and ultimate fulfillment that propelled her quality of life beyond her wildest imagination!