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SIMPLE PRACTICE FOR A PEACEFUL DAY

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A simple practice we can engage in to cultivate peace and harmony is to give up hope and replace it with aspiration or motivation from the heart—that is, to stop waiting to be happy when something happens. Instead, rejoice in this very moment because what you are doing now should already be the realization of what you want to happen in the future. 

Warm wishes,

Valeria  

LIFE CAN BECOME A LUCID DREAM

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The moment we choose to recognize our experiences in the world as lessons of love, life turns into a lucid dream. This recognition can come from the depths of our hearts—the spiritual awareness through the senseless suffering caused by our minds. Either way, the main difference between a nightmare and a lucid dream is a shift of our perception grounded in love. In the dream of life, there are many mountains to climb every day, and they might crumble, the dust might blur our vision, fear might replace our hope, but if we have faith and recognize our own essence, we will never fall.

 

Much love!

Valeria

TRAINING BODY, MIND AND SOUL

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I believe that any physical activity can become a spiritual experience, even a tough type of training like weight lifting. The location where we train can become an auspicious terrain where spiritual awareness and physical practices can be integrated. I feel this is important. In most commercial gyms there is nothing there to remind the mind to practice virtues like trust, respect, patience, and kindness among others.

At best, weight lifting in commercial gyms can give us a feeling of being present in the moment, which is induced mostly by safety considerations. This is because the owners and staff of such places are not aligned with the idea of offering both a physical and spiritual space to us. Most gym managers are more preoccupied with signing up new members than they are with their well-being and happiness. 

Much love!

Valeria

MORE THAN OUR BODIES

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Weight lifting can be of great help with weight loss, staying in shape, and building strength. But as I mention throughout my book, Fit for Joy, this type of training focuses only on the physical body, which is just one aspect of our being. We are so much richer and complex than just our bodies. The approach to fitness that works the body in isolation from the mind and the spiritual heart is not a sustainable source of health. This is the reason I created the Fit for Joy lifestyle, which integrates conventional physical fitness with spirituality. 

Much Love!

Valeria

LUCID LOVE

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The moment we choose to recognize our experiences in the world as lessons of love, life turns into a lucid dream. This recognition can come from the depths of our hearts or from spiritual awareness—brought about through the senseless suffering caused by our minds. Either way, the main difference between a nightmare and a lucid dream is a shift of our perception grounded in love. In the dream of life, there are many mountains to climb every day, and they might crumble, the dust might blur our vision, fear might replace our hope, but if we have faith and recognize our own essence, WE will never fall again. 

Much Love!

Valeria 

EAT LESS, THANK MORE.

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We know that the best way to lose weight is to eat less, especially of foods that are high in calories. Sugar is a well-known adversary of weight loss. But before depriving ourselves of healthy fats and sweets, it’s wise to try to understand the real reasons we eat more than necessary. I believe that wishful thinking and fear are subconsciously operating in our minds when it comes to our eating patterns. Food can become an addiction, often stemming from emotional triggers when we wish our lives to be different. Steven Pressfield, the famous writer, once wrote: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.”

The way I see it, having the courage to realize the unlived life within is essential to our physical and psychological health. Trusting this moment for what is—this is courage. Feeling grateful for what we have can empower us to follow our hearts, thus making each moment fulfilled and joyful. The happier we are within, the less preoccupied with food we become.

The perfection of this moment embraces us with unconditional love for our spiritual wealth, for who we truly are—there is nothing lacking. 

KIND HEARTS...STRONG BODIES...PEACEFUL MINDS.... Fit for joy! 

Much, much love! 

Valeria 

SPIRITUAL CONFIDENCE: THE ETERNAL JOY

SPIRITUAL CONFIDENCE: THE ETERNAL JOY

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Self-confidence is important to have—but spiritual confidence is essential.

Spiritual confidence (aka inner peace) is that clear certainty within you that cannot be affected by internal or external instability.

It’s eternal joy from understanding that the mystery of life cannot be known; it can only be felt with the heart.

It’s absolute wisdom that manifests through contentment.

Spiritual confidence is accepting that you are a gift to this world through which a divine blueprint is being carried out.  It’s the only kind of confidence that eliminates existential doubt and liberates the human spirit.

It gives us the strength and the drive to fulfill our destiny, but more importantly, the power of serenity to face life’s most unwanted events.

We often see people with a high level of self-confidence derived from fear, egotism, narcissism, or vanity. This kind of confidence seeks to dominate and control others.

Without spiritual confidence, everything about us and everything that we achieve isn’t enough. We don’t feel satisfied. 

Spiritual confidence allows us to accept what is beyond our control with courage and grace, to reclaim the joy that belongs to our hearts.

The spiritually confident are warriors of innovation, the ones who don’t hesitate to be the first to fully invest in their own ideas—ideas that can contribute to self-improvement and to bettering the world. These warriors fearlessly stand for a way of life that is closer to “God” when everyone else flocks around “goods.”

They fight with kindness for a life that is meaningful. Warriors who don’t believe that problems will disappear if they ignore them. There is no compromising truth in exchange for temporary happiness.

Escapism is not a conceivable choice for the spiritually brave.

In this world we live in, where self-doubt and illusions give rise to all sorts of conflicts—it’s imperative that we value spiritual confidence.

The true power of inner peace reveals itself in moments of need. It’s felt in the heart that beats indestructible and with unconditional love for our humanity, and for a life governed by change. 

This love welcomes transformation.

It’s love that knows how to reach the depths of who we really are to transcend our self-imposed limitations.

It’s the unwavering confidence that guides us through life’s challenges with compassion.

This confidence, turned into eternal joy, empowers and transforms us because it knows love before fear. 

 

Much love,

Valeria

CHOOSE TO BE THRILLED!

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We have the choice to change our minds when we can't change the situation we find ourselves in. Instead of perceiving a commitment to finish our work with dreadful anxiety, we can live in these moments with a sense of excitement.

Embrace the challenge of being creative, thus tapping into the unborn parts of the mind that are not habitually conditioned to perceiving external events. 

The main difference between anxiety and excitement is the energy behind these feelings: one is driven by negative thoughts (anxiety), and the other by positive ones. All of the unnecessary suffering in our lives is self-created, and so is our happiness. 

When we are able to perceive reality with an inner “eye” that can’t see itself, our hearts will have become the source of unconditioned joy. 

 

Much love!

Valeria

WE ARE JOY!

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Writing these life events taught me that everything is connected, and that ignoring what causes us to suffer is the same as losing an incredible chance to free ourselves from pain, thus abandoning the path toward happiness. This might sound contradictory. However, I can assure you from my own experiences that there is nothing like examining the causes of pain and fear to free ourselves from them.

We are not our past, our thoughts, our feelings, our genes, or our futures. So who are we underneath it all? Well, I highly suspect that we are joy—a mixture of peace and happiness! It’s my conviction that only the heart—with an undeniable healing force that can turn our stories into “songs” of freedom—can empower us with true forgiveness, joy, and love.

Much love!

Valeria

PAST AND FUTURE TRAPS

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Happiness and serenity are linked to the present moment, which requires fully appreciating what is happening now, within ourselves and in our environment.  Nevertheless, many of us do not achieve this state because we dwell in the past or become preoccupied with living for a “better” future. When we project or stake our happiness on the hypothetical achievement of future circumstances, we sabotage our ability to be happy in the present; this reinforces a self-destructive mindset that will likely persist into the magical “future” we are hoping for. To release ourselves from this trap, we must shift our perspective toward a spiritual reality that resides in the now. And it is this spiritual reality that has the power to transform pain into joy.

Much love!

Valeria

IF NOT WITHIN, IT CAN'T BE FOUND

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It’s with profound delight that I can say the main message in this book came out of my conviction that we are born into physical bodies to realize the joy that already exists in our spiritual hearts.

Fit for Joy connects physical activities with spirituality and enjoyment, and psychological processes with our inner nature, which are our unique ways of seeing the world based on our past experiences. I believe that the heart is the master of our lives, the mind our powerful servant, and the body the bridge between them.

 

Much love!

Valeria

ON HOPES AND DREAMS

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Deluded dreams and unrealistic hopes for the future can have the same effect as real drugs. We all know something is terribly wrong when we rely on this frantic search for fulfillment. But because everyone else around us lives in this kind of reality, we get pulled into it, too. We start to believe that this is how things should be—that this is what is real and normal. In truth, what is real and normal is to fully live in the present moment.

Consider this: if we can’t find happiness and peace in our own hearts in this very moment, doing whatever we are doing, we won’t find it anywhere else—or at any time in the future. Our hearts know, and have known, this truth forever.

To strive, achieve, and grow without joy is to live in mediocrity. This is much like the unfulfilling pleasure one experiences while having a beer or soda while playing the lotto. Where is the joyful you in this moment? 

 

Much love!

Valeria

A PATH TO HAPPINESS

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A few months later, still at the peak of my “new life,” the feeling that I couldn’t help my clients intensified as my façade of success crumbled. The fitness competition I had won had been an awful experience of self-abuse that made me obsessed with keeping my weight as low as possible. The new guy I’d fallen in love with was my ex-husband in a different body. My emotional life was falling apart.

On a calm day while walking home from the gym, I started having frightening thoughts. I didn’t think about ending my life; rather, something deep inside me suggested it was already over. Despite my fit and healthy body, years engaged in the fitness community, and my organic diet, I was severely depressed.

I felt I could not share my condition with anyone. After all, I was a fitness model and a “health” enthusiast. Being perceived as a strong and inspirational person was crucial to helping the people around me become “healthy.” Thus, my depression had to remain hidden.

Although I knew my clients were making positive changes in their lives because of me, I intuitively acknowledged that these were not the kinds of changes that pleased the “soul.” Pained and lonely, I trusted I would overcome depression and feel “normal” again by spending more time at the gym, coming up with new exercise routines, new healthy and delicious recipes, or buying new gym clothes. But my depression worsened until, on a sunny, beautiful day, I felt that I was dead. I couldn’t think of anything that made me feel I deserved to be alive. My past was filled with painful experiences and torturous memories, from childhood abuse, to two divorces, to unreliable friends, to dissatisfying careers. In the darkness of my own mental prison, I asked myself: “What would you do if you were still alive?” 

This was the question that changed everything. Before I even thought of an answer, joy washed over me, and immediately I knew that my understanding of life had shifted. I felt like I was free from all the pain. This feeling also announced that happiness and peace had been there in my heart all along. I promised that I would listen to my heart from that day on, starting with forgiving my mother. There would also be no more preoccupation to be fit as a way to be happy. I was, and always had been, fit for joy!

This feeling was so real and strong that all I wanted to do was to share it with others. I wanted to tell everyone that no matter what happened, is happening, or will happen, that there is a path to true happiness.

Much love!

Valeria

THE STORY AND THE SPIRITUAL PATH

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I believe our story is part of our spiritual path, and that our spiritual path is inseparable from our story.

During the inner conflict I experienced as a fitness trainer, I did sense that something was wrong with my thoughts, behavior, and my life in general. But I had no idea that the pressure to be fit was directly linked to an unhealthy desire to please others based on past experiences and conditioning. What keeps us repeating the same mistakes—and suffering unnecessarily from them—is our inability to address our negative past as a collection of stories. These stories can help us better our lives if we examine them with courage and kindness. We simply need to learn to perceive all past experiences without judgment, blame, or guilt, and let them serve as references for what not to repeat in the present or in the future.

Much love!

Valeria

TRYING TOO HARD

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I now see that my "fit and healthy" lifestyle was made up of a series of these kinds of experiences. I was very disciplined, but this discipline was turning me into the opposite of a loving and happy person. I came to realize that the pursuit of a fit and healthy body could only be a positive thing if we’ve already recognized our spiritual hearts as perfectly fit to provide us with a life of happiness and peace. In other words, although a fit body can improve our health, earn compliments that boost our self-esteem, and give us a temporary “high” of accomplishment, without a content mind and joyful heart, our happiness won’t last long. When our health and feel-good states depend on external conditions and constant hard work, this can propel us into an endless, destructive cycle.

Much love!

Valeria

ON SELF-RESPECT

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From my experience with fitness, I can confidently say that the motivation to have a healthy body should not be based on fear, but on love. One of the hardest negative mental habits to break is the constant need for the approval of others. This habit can result in physical and emotional abuse (as happened to me), by propelling us to overtrain our bodies so that we will be accepted and complimented by others. The more I abused my body at the gym, the more people praised me, and the more I was motivated to keep doing it—to the extent that I even signed up for competition shows. As you can see, this was not that different from a drug addiction. My lack of self-respect and self-love was great enough to keep me open to doing anything that gave me that “approval-acceptance” high. 

Much love!

Valeria

ON SELF-LOVE

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SELF-LOVE

After many insights and lessons, I’ve learned to have self-love without selfishness; to recognize which behaviors are motivated by love rather than fear; to see how closely connected my past is to my present; and that love, joy, and peace are at the core of our true nature with regard to how we relate to others and the world. My new spiritual understanding not only gave deeper meaning to my life, but it has also caused external changes I could never have imagined. 

 

Much love!

Valeria

THE SPACE TO BE YOU 

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"Bravo’s dusty roads were still paths for bull-driven carriages, which squeezed between the houses in a cloud of dust. The carriage conductor would scream loudly to give directions to the bulls. He wore leather pants and a leather jacket under the fierce sun, and whipped the bulls with two dirty ropes. From far off, I could hear the loud creaking of the carriage’s dry wooden chassis carrying large bags of beans and corn.

The sound grew louder and louder as it approached our street. It was a bit scary at first, but it always became the attraction of the week. I would rush to the window, covering my eyes with my fingers so as not to be blinded by the dust. I couldn’t open my mouth to laugh or scream either, unless I wanted to have dust for lunch.

I still enjoyed the passing of the giant, creaking carriage dragged by bulls and whipped by a wild man. Bravo seemed not to care about its bull-driven carriages making loud noises and clouds of dust. It was simply the space that allowed a bull to be a bull and a man to be a wild conductor."

 

Much love!

Valeria