Friday, June 26, 2009

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo

I can't remember exactly where I first saw this quote but I think it may have been in one of Surya Das' books....
But it had such a profound effect on me. Often the simplest words ring the most true.

We are so quick to judge and we are so quick to vilify those whose actions we see as negative, as annoying or as 'wrong'.
...and we are also just as quick to forget the times that perhaps we have been in that same situation.

I'm sure most of us, most of the time, try our very best to live a good life of warmth and charity. But we all slip up from time to time.
We can never know exactly what another person is going through, what hardships they are facing, and what hardships they have already faced but we can be empathetic to their plight and do one simple thing - 'be kind'.

And this need not either be an excuse for people to act poorly. After all; as I said in 'Choosing You' "There are reasons for the way people act...not excuses". In seeing the reasons why people sometimes act rashly, or negatively but not necessarily excusing them (and thereby allowing them to 'walk all over us') we are being kind. We can treat them with gentleness, openness and love. These things are the basis of compassion.

This simple quote wells into my mind when I am reactively disgusted by someone, by the way they act or look and it immediately disarms these negative thoughts - and as simply as they arose they fade away to be replaced by feelings of love and compassion for my fellow man.

Words can hold so much power.
They say that 'God is in the word'. For me this means that there is power and there is truth in words. What we say becomes real and what is said to us, and affects us profoundly also becomes reality.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

"Choosing You!" 3rd Edition available at Amazon and Lulu.com



Monday, June 22, 2009

More words that inspire.....The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann 1927

Growing up we always had a large copy of the Desiderata hanging in our dining room. I was always - even at a very young age, impressed by it's simplicity and timeless wisdom. Ever since I have always kept a copy, no matter where in the world I am. This is one of those pieces that so eloquently captures and encapsulates the truth of goodness.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Words That Inspire Me - 'If' by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

This poem was given to me in a card by my father when I was a child and it is one of the pieces that I now go back to when I need timeless advice and wisdom....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Harvey and Hemsworth - Strength and Power Day

OK so here's a typical strength and power day for the boys:

On any given exercise we work up to the work sets listed below. This is a build up phase for us, incrementally increasing weight, not going to max and working on a base of strength.

Power Cleans from the Waist 4 x 3 (185lb)
Front Squats 5 x 5 (225lb)
Slow Clean Pulls 6 x 3 (295lb)
Chin Ups - 'Hemsworth 3-2-1 style' (start with 3 plates - 135lb for max reps, drop one plate - max reps, drop to one plate - max reps, then max out with bodyweight.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Naturopath vs Strength Coach....Hemsworth and Harvey - A Light Training Day

It was the second pulling/posterior dominant workout of the week and we were both pretty freakin' sore so we decided on a light hybrid speed-strength and conditioning training day to wrap out the week.

I was in charge of the strength portion and Paul Hemsworth (www.hemsworthstrength.com) took care of the conditioning.

...So here's what we did:

Strength/Speed:
Cleans from the waist 3 x 4 (135lb), 3 x 3 (155lb)
Box Squats 3 x 3 (220lb), 3 x 3 (315lb), 1 x max reps (at 220lb)
Slow Clean Pulls 6 x 4 (315lb)

Conditioning:
Kettlebell Clean and Press 2 x 2min (35lb bells)
Kettlebell Snatches 2 x 50 (35lb bells)
Walking Lunges 2 x 16 (44lb bells)

Jack Knives (with 45lb plate) 2 x 10
V-Sit medicine ball throws with partner 2 x pyramid up to 7reps and back down

Done!

Check out just a few of the lifts here:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Meditation for Martial Arts?

[Question from a reader]

Hi Cliff,
I noticed on your facebook fan page that under interests you mention that you meditate - I've done some in the past ; problem solving and such. But I am curious to know if you meditate specifically for martial arts?


The short answer is that 'yes' I do meditate for martial arts. But I guess in a 'round about' way!

Many martial arts are by nature very meditative. We see this in arts such as Tai Chi, but it is also a major part of karate, wing chun etc etc and also the more 'fight' rather than 'form' based martial arts of Muay Thai and even boxing. Also consider that many of these martial arts were born out of societies in which meditation was an integral part of the culture and religion and several martial arts were developed by monks and nuns.

The meditative aspect of martial arts for me is two fold.
1. The exercise as meditation
Here is an excerpt from my book:
"Any exercise can become more meditative. Some forms of physical exercise are, by their very nature and design, meditative (like Tai Chi and Yoga).
Other exercise can be meditative when performed mindfully. The key is that when you are exercising you are just exercising and not thinking about television, work or what you’re going to have for dinner! To make exercise more mindful we need to focus on the movement of the body and when the mind wanders gently return its focus to the body and the movement.
Running can, for example, be extremely meditative. The constant and repetitive nature of the movement encourages mindfulness and often leads to a state of deep yet gentle focus. Runners call this ‘the zone’ and it can involve a state where the runner isn’t distracted by thoughts. In many cases this sensation of awareness is so great that the runner and the action cease to exist and there is simply ‘running’."

This has been something cultivated by martial artists over centuries. The idea of simply 'being'. With this mind the fighter becomes the fight, he becomes the movement and fights with pure non-attachment, not out of anger, malice and without the trappings of ego and vanity.

2. Meditation as a 'global' tool for martial arts.
Another excerpt from "Choosing You":
"Put simply mindfulness is seeing things for what they are. It is being open to what is going on around you, without attachment and without reaction.
It is developing the ‘watcher’ or the ‘observer’ within. Our minds are perpetual motion machines that create thought after thought. Mindfulness is recognising that these thoughts are transient and these thoughts are not us.
By observing our thoughts and emotions, by developing the ‘watcher’ within, we can see that our thoughts are not us. There is something deeper than this. We know this simply because we can become mindful, we can ‘watch’ our thoughts and emotions arise…and so we know that they are things that happen, and are in fact things that we ‘do’ and cannot therefore be ‘us’.
Think about your emotions as a rollercoaster. Many of us, most of the time jump on board the rollercoaster every time it starts up! When you are angry for example you almost become anger – you have jumped on board the ‘angercoaster’, but you know that you are not anger, you are you!
You can choose to observe the rollercoaster of emotion instead of always getting carried away with it.

Our mind creates thoughts and emotions on a subconscious level or we actively create or pursue them on a conscious level. Our thought process is really a never-ending cascade of ideas that is instigated at birth and is supplemented in its content by everything that happens to us, everything we do and everything that we are exposed to in any way. On the grandest scale this includes everything in the universe and becomes more specific to our own character and thoughts the closer it comes to us. What we actually ‘see’ in our minds eye is what we have chosen on some level to attach to because it is (or appears to be at the time) the most relevant information to us.
Our thoughts are constructs of the brain. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the results of ‘just doing it’ are extremely powerful!"

So we can see that meditation will help us in any area of life. And in fact as we develop a meditative practice our entire life becomes more mindful and meditative in, and of, itself. In the ancient traditions there are so many forms of meditation; sitting, lying, standing, walking, whirling, dancing....all of which develop greater awareness and ultimately peace.

Friday, June 05, 2009

What have you given back this month?...

There is an old tenet of financial planning that says "Pay yourself first.."
It is basically saying that you need to put aside money first and foremost for yourself, for your future and to accompish the things you want to accomplish in the future. I agree completely.....

Except that I pay myself SECOND...

Each and every month when I am paid for consultancy services I FIRST donate a proportion of EVERYTHING I earn to charity. I also donate a portion of all of the profits of FITNET to IsOne (The International Society of Eudaemonists) - a group I founded which fosters greater connection, charity and conservation.

It has been estimated that if everyone donated even 1% of their income to charity we could COMPLETELY eliminate world poverty. Now I haven't run the figures.....
But ANY amount that we can do for our fellow man is worthwhile...and the benefit to us, in terms of our own happiness and satisfaction pays us back ten fold.

I'll be honest. I am struggling like many of you out there right now. In the last few years property values have plummeted and interest rates have in many places skyrocketed. Cash flow is tight to say the least....

But no matter how tight things get, and no matter what sacrifices I have had to make of late I still was able to eat a filling, satisfying, balanced healthy meal before I sat down to right this.

I still am able to go out for dinner, have a beer at the pub with my mates, put clothes on my back and enjoy at least a few of the finer things in life....Something so many are not able to do.

And so I pay those in need first...and then I pay myself. I encourage you all to do the same. It is time to make a change in the world....
There are many, many things we can do and giving to those less fortunate is one of those things...and one we can start to do right now....Because if not now when?

Here are some of the charities that some of the members at IsOne have donated to:

GiveWell is an independent, nonprofit charity evaluator that performs in-depth research on charities to help people accomplish as much good as possible with their donations. You can donate to GiveWell’s top rated charities through their website:
http://www.givewell.net

The International Planned Parenthood Federation is a global service provider and leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
http://www.ippf.org

Opportunity International provides ‘microloans’ to entrepreneurs in some of the world’s poorest nations. This not for profit organisation has a stunning 98% repayment rate for its loans – which are then re-invested with other entrepreneurs and small business owners in developing nations.
http://www.opportunity.org

Oxfam International is a longstanding global organisation seeking to combat poverty and injustice around the world.
http://www.oxfam.org

Population Services International is a nonprofit organisation that promotes products, services and healthy behaviour that enable low-income and vulnerable people to lead healthier lives. Through initiatives like distributing bednets and condoms in developing countries where malaria and HIV/AIDS are major risks to life, GiveWell gave PSI its highest rating.
http://www.psi.org

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Universal Truth of Love

I was just watching an interview on CNN with Rev. Dr Art Cribbs - a wonderful pastor from San Marino United Church of Christ in California.
He was voicing his opposition to the banning of gay marriage in his state.
His rationale was voiced so eloquently and succinctly in his impassioned speech when he said "God is love"...and that the bill was an attack on love...

This hit a chord and got me a little choked up as on this day - June the 4th every year I take a bit of time out of my work day to reflect on the meaning of life and love.
My Mum - Janet Harvey was born on this day in 1954 and passed away nearly 11 years ago.

Rev. Cribbs extolling the universality of love reminded me of the way my Mum practiced her faith. You see my Mum was a Christian in the truest and best sense of the world.
Her god was one of love and of truth. Not about derision and divisiveness. Her love for her God was based in the knowledge that God, Truth and Love are all inseperable. They are facets of the same great universal bond that holds us all together.

She saw that fundamentally, at the heart of religion and ALL the faiths of the world was man's attempt to reconcile what he can see around him with the intuition that there is more than that. And she saw that goodness, truth, virtue, honesty and most importantly LOVE were the things that defined people. Not what faith they chose.
Now don't get me wrong - my Mum was devout in her Christian faith, and in her belief that Jesus Christ was her lord and saviour but she could not, and would not, deride anyone else for their own faith when she could see that at it's base they were all striving towards the same goals of truth, love and oneness.

My Mum, even though a strict Christian introduced me to Hinduism and to Buddhism and was happy for me to research and investigate these as a child, teenager and young man, and make my own mind up as to whether I would take up a religion or faith.

At the time, and through my years in a Christian school, I rebelled against what I saw as the tyrannical, bigoted christian orthodoxy even though I could see, day to day in the eyes of my Ma and feel in the warmth of her daily hugs that the wrongdoings of people in ANY faith are the result of their own human failings of greed, narcisism and materialism and not the faith itself.

I guess as youngsters we are prone to being firebrands, and in the cocoon of the protection that childhood affords we can afford to be so.
Pragmatism is a virtue we gain with the wisdom of age.

The cocoon of childhood was shattered for me on the day that my Mum passed away in my arms in Dec 1998. I struggled for years with guilt, remorse and loneliness. I think that a Mother is synonymous with 'home'. And I know, and I have seen in others who have been through the same, that when you lose your mother, particularly at a young age, you feel as if you don't have a home anymore.
I certainly felt like I had been launched into the world and subsequently have spent at times years wandering, trying to find my own place again to call home.

I've always been a seeker. Even as a little child I wondered 'why?', 'what is the purpose of life?' 'Is there something more?' 'Why are people so unhappy?' 'How can I make the world a better place?'...
There are people who wonder about life, about the world, about why things are the way they are, and there are people amongst these who find some answers, no matter how small, and through these epiphanical moments find ways to help others.

I am blessed to have been given a grounding in the most important lessons in life by my Mum - a true spiritual warrior, and to have had her in my life for 19 years, and of course she is still in my heart and thoughts every day.

Most importantly I have become content. I have made my peace with God, whatsoever we each conceive him to be and perhaps this peace is the greatest lesson my Mum left with me...

The dedication in my first book "Choosing You!" reads: "This, my first book, is dedicated to the memory of my Mum; Janet Harvey who taught me that knowledge holds power, and that knowledge when tempered with honesty, humility and love, becomes wisdom, true and timeless..."