This entry is a summary of the kind of effect which Marcus and I will be offering during our retreat in June. It comes from a friend of mine who, having gone straight to the gym from our coffee conversation, noticed how well he felt after his workout because he’d given his mind something deep and meaningful to contemplate, and his body the kind of workout our bodies are born to do, but so rarely get the chance to enjoy.
(Note: a physical workout may seem like anything but enjoyable, but that’s the mind talking. If you could ask your body, it would have something very different to say. It wants to work, it wants to be strong, and it’s far more capable and resilient than our mind would have us believe.)
My friend and I spent an hour last week catching up in the Haarlem sunshine. We talked easily about how much simpler it is to change who we are at the level of behaviour than at the increasingly deeper levels of abilities, beliefs and personality. It makes sense because beliefs and personality intuitively seem much more ingrained than the skills we have or how we behave in the world. Indeed, the wisdom of personal development work is knowing where to concentrate our efforts to achieve the maximum reward, and which aspects of our existence we would be better off accepting and embracing.
Towards the end of the conversation we touched on the subject of unconditional love. I raised it in the context of parenthood – we are both fairly new fathers – because people had told me that the unconditional love one experiences for one’s child is beyond comparison. My thoughts about their proclamations had eventually led me to conclude that maybe the human race is wandering around loving conditionally until they have children; which surely offers our species room for improvement.
In any case, my friend argued that truly unconditional love cannot exist because, no matter how small, there will always be a condition. I mentioned infinity, which is the great get-out clause because it allows for the possibility of everything, everywhere, at all times. At that point – the peak of another insightful exchange – we called time on our talk with a promise to pick up the subject next time.
Last night, we chatted again as we stood on the orange-filled streets of the King’s Day celebrations. As he offered his appreciation of our previous conversation, I wondered whether he had regretted cutting it short to go to the gym. But it was the opposite. He told me that, as he cycled home from his workout, he felt great and ready to face the day. For an hour he had trained and nourished his mind; and the intense physical workout immediately afterwards had enlivened his body. I couldn’t respond quickly enough, such was my enthusiasm. Conversations offering depth and insight; and physical workouts which invigorate, raise your energy levels and make you feel (even) more alive. ‘That…! That right there, is exactly what our retreat is all about!’