The Zen of Bodybuilding

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    Jan 29, 2008 9:32 PM GMT
    Anyone who really knows me understands how deep I can be. I don't like spending a lot of time on the shallow end of the pool. Hell if given a choice I choose the ocean over the pool anytime…well except for a few hot pool parties in the summer maybe. Which brings me to the reason for spending so much of my free time at the gym. I'll admit it that at first my main reason for hitting the iron was mostly aesthetic in inspiration but the further down the rabbit hole I went the more working out had less to do with vanity.

    Change, fundamental change, is strange and scary. It goes against everything knowable and can't be done without a determination to break through barriers that feel overwhelming. When I first started working out I remember how gross the feeling of sweat was as I ran. I felt a high level of discomfort as the extra pounds of weight on my body shook awkwardly. I kept trying to negotiate with myself on acceptable reasons to stop at each new moment I found myself reaching towards my physical limits, but instead broke through to the next plane and I kept going.

    I watched myself running in the mirror, locked onto the determination in my eyes. I heard only the deep rhythm of my breath and I felt each movement of my body, most of which was suspended in air at any one moment with only a light tap of my foot to lift me to the next. Time slowed and I focused on what my body was doing so completely that all thoughts were silenced along with time. I visualized myself running naked in the desert. I was in a state of deep meditation that began to feel quiet and gentle inside while so much exertion was actually occurring in and round me. This was the beginning of my spiritual epiphany. I began to see my body as a temple and eating crap and even drinking was not something I looked forward to anymore, not like before. Self-discovery through lifting was cathartic, to be able to harness rage and push past limits is empowering. There's an animal tied to all of us and pretending it's not there is not the way to control it.

    What happens with every journey of course is that if you don't take it to the next level of discomfort, the next challenge then you become complacent and the gains, both spiritually and physically sputter out. And this is what I started discovering, my physical and spiritual lives were intertwined. I could see how my program, as it were, was doing just by looking in the mirror.

    This realization helped me to become even more invested and this course was now more important then work, school and my previous spiritual practice, which was more intellectual then anything. Working out had become the physical manifestation, and the next phase, of my spirituality. I began to understand my body more - I learned to listen to it - what worked and what didn't. I learned to always keep my body guessing and not become complacent, to strive past the walls of what I thought wasn't possible. Finally to respect, love and understand what a fragile and amazing organism my body is. It's been over five years thinking like this and taking it where I can. I know I haven't always done it right, not even by half, and there's plenty of times that I've lost my way or taken the long road around in order to get aspects of my routine right. But a journey is what I have set out on and it has literally re-shaped me both physically and mentally. I appreciate more of myself and the world. Spiritual practice just isn't some amorphous and heady ideal for me anymore. It's all a lesson; I'm humbled because it is by no means easy. It's as hard as I choose. And I can admire those that have gone so much further then me because I have a sense of what it has taken for them to get there.

    It's not just lifting heavy bars over and over again. There's a complicated science interwoven with an intuitive art to all of it, and it varies from person to person making it all the more complicated. And to add another element of complexity, it is always changing as your body tries to adapt itself to the curriculum. The exact mixture of weights to reps, to routines, to time frame, to rest, to nutrition. Always in play, always in movement and always being refined. It's pointless to do this unless you develop an understanding of your body and become good at listening to its needs.

    So to all of you that look down at gym-rats as overzealous narcissists, try not to judge*. Everyone's on a journey and it doesn't matter how we get there as long as we're on the road.




    * This statement excludes those guys in the gym that wear fishnet and spandex, that's just gross. Especially that guy who wears that low-cut neon yellow and black striped spandex unitard with fishnet sides exposing WAY too much of his 65+ year old ass then is comfortable for anyone besides him apparently. Then again, he does wear sunglasses at night so maybe he does understand how embarrassed he should be.
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    Feb 09, 2008 8:57 AM GMT
    I can only hope my own path twards a better body/life is as inspiring as yours has been.

    I am just really getting started and have the same issues you did when you began. I cant stand to see my flab bouncing along when I jog/run/walk, and the feeling I get when I work up a big sweat makes me want to rip off my own skin and throw it away.

    The road before me is gonna be long and difficult, I just hope I have the will to endure all I need to for the changes I want.
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    Feb 10, 2008 9:29 AM GMT
    Very insightful.

    A "Real Jock" gets this, but, as this site has grown, the percentage of "real jocks" has dropped off.

    You pretty much summarized the whole workout experience.

    Something like it, along with weight room rules, should be reading for any gym member.

    Many folks just don't get that those of us that are true masters at it don't do it in a compensatory way, but, rather, because we love doing it. It makes us feel good.

    The neophyte, non-athlete, just doesn't get it in all their ignorance. Perhaps your writings will enlighten a few. Very well spoken.
  • ValleyGuy5000

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    May 17, 2008 5:32 AM GMT
    Beautifully written insights regarding your experience, True.

    Thank you for taking the time to share that in this forum.

    Spirituality and physicality are amazingly interwoven. We are, after all, mind-body-spirit beings.

    Having just gotten back into the gym myself, it's amazing how activity vs. no activity really affects my sense of center and overall wellness mentally, physically and spiritually.

    My physical transformation hasn't been nearly as profound as what it sounds like you've been through, but the physical is a representation of the leaps of faith one takes to break through the next barrier, to go the gym one more time, to stay the course rather than succumb to one's vices of choice.

    I, like all of us, am a work in progress. And it was nice to read a balanced and insightful testimony regarding your process and the consequent transformations beyond the physical.

    Good stuff. Thanks for posting, man. icon_smile.gif
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    May 17, 2008 10:58 PM GMT
    do you know ZEN means woman in persian. just an information.
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    May 30, 2008 6:06 PM GMT
    Wow, bro, you have given me hope for the site, for gay guys, and for the world in general. Here is someone else who really gets it. You put beautifully into words what I have tried to explain to others so many times.

    For me as well it started out with a quest for aesthetics, but I've always been a spiritual person to some degree. It didn't take long before I discovered the very thing you are describing. It is in the gym where I sprint to ridiculous speeds, and push that bar up one more time, when there is nothing left but the will to get it up, it is in doing these things that I blow all the accumulated stress and astral garbage out of my nervous system. It is meditation, it is catharsis, it is a cleansing of the body and the worship of the self as a manifestation of the divine.

    I don't know if you are familiar with the concepts of evolutionary enlightenment of not, but I have to suggest at least a little bit of it, as it's become so central to my bodybuilding practice and my life as a whole. From the moment of the big bang an impulse has been present, an original impulse. That impulse is to become, to grow from perfection to ever greater perfection. First subatomic particles became atoms, and atoms became molecules, and molecules became proteins, and proteins became cells, and cells became multi celled organisms, and organisms became animals and from animals came our ancestors, and from our ancestors became one of the greatest leaps in universal history - self aware beings capable of awareness of their own consciousness and evolutionary potential. For fourteen and a half billion years the original impulse has existed and flourished throughout the universe selecting the cream of the crop and gently recycling the previous forms into ever more perfect form. Here we are the cream of the crop of 14.5 billion years of natural selection, I am that and you are that, and within my bicep a million God's eyes seeking their own perfection.

    What we can become, we must. To become aware of our place in evolutionary history is to become aware of both the awe of where we are in history and the awesome responsibility we have to be that evolutionary impulse. To see ourselves and all beings as living works of perfection moving towards ever more perfect form. For me when I lift, I maintain awareness of the millions of miracles going on in my body at this moment, the 10 million cells replaced each minute, and its amazing ability to adapt chemically to all manners of outside stimulus, and the miracle of being at the crux of human evolution. For me the lift is about that evolution, it's the evolutionary impulse to grow towards ever greater form, made manifest in my life, in my body, in every fiber of my being. To me to not realize my full potential is a form of slow suicide, what I can become I must. I must push my body to greater levels of strength and capability, I must move my soul towards greater evolutionary awareness and oneness with life.

    When I look around at my human brothers and sisters and I see them involved in all their seemingly ridiculous drama's I try to remember that they are beings caught in suffering and moving towards evolutionary enlightenment, moving towards a more perfect form just like everything else in the universe since the beginning of time. It is in this awareness of our commonality, our oneness, that my work in the gym becomes work for the benefit of all living beings. When I lift, I lift for me, I lift for you, I lift for the freedom of Tibet, and the freedom of imprisoned monks in Burma, as I lift for the perfection of the universe itself, as my growing muscles are nothing but original impulse made of recycled material that has been present from the beginning of time.

    In this intention I am quantumly connected to the entire universe as energy. With this connection to universal energy, my pulse quickens, blood races oxygen and nutrients to muscles, nerve cells fire ordering neurotransmitters like adrenaline, ordering more testosterone, ordering the sweating reflex to cool the body, ordering the intention of fierce determination. The million manifest conditions in my body come together to create a state of mind of charge, that will not be defeated, a state of mind that is capable of pushing this body past all it's self imposed limits, to a quantum state where the bodies ability to do things is occurring far beyond what would be normal parameters, expanding its capability and growing it's quest toward greater forms of perfection. Along with this a very meditative process occurs, its a process of passive awareness as the body prepares for a lift, sitting quietly in the rest period after the last set; then comes the focused breathing - the conscious building of energy for the next lift; then comes the grounding where the energy is grounded and stabilized and accessed; and then comes the release as the lift gets underway, the mind orders the muscles to contract again, and again, as the mind and body push this fragile form towards its own greatest potentials, and when the lift is done, again comes rest in passive awareness. As this process is repeated dozens of times in a workout, the mind grows calm and clear, aware of this present moment completely, aware of all that occurs in this moment, and in such awareness becomes aware of the universe itself, aware of the entire universe taking place right within this very body.

    To some this might be a difficult read, because I can't organize in clear cut paragraphs with the names of major philosophers, or the names of specific world religions, I can't call eastern or western, nor can I engage in endless intellectualizing about it. Why? Because I actually know what I am talking about, its something that has to be experienced to understand and once you have experienced it, you could never reduce it to intellectualization, and theorization. Experiential transcendence does not know logic, theories, egos, names, divisions, etc; it knows oneness and it knows the quest of all beings to move towards evolutionary enlightenment and progressively greater forms of perfection. In experience, I cannot talk about general theories, but only my experience as it exists in this moment.

    Thank you very much for starting this thread, it is so good to know that someone else feels what I do, when I step in the gym.
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    Jul 12, 2008 11:58 PM GMT
    I had hoped there would be more replies to this, but I guess it goes to show that there are few that understand.
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    Jul 13, 2008 12:04 AM GMT
    YngHungSFSD saidI had hoped there would be more replies to this, but I guess it goes to show that there are few that understand.


    Actually this is the first time I had seen this thread and MUST say thank you! Thank you to YngHungSFSD and TRUE!! Both were hands down AMAZING, ENLIGHTENING, thought provoking, in depth, and VERY motivating!! Thank you guys for sharing your minds with us!!
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    Jul 13, 2008 12:15 AM GMT
    YngHungSFSD saidI had hoped there would be more replies to this, but I guess it goes to show that there are few that understand.
    heh, try posting some about the TAO and see how many respond. I would not let that discourage you. Its just that it is hard to put profound experiences into words and even harder to read them. You might do better sitting around a campfire or watching a sunset on the beach while talking about it.
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    Jul 13, 2008 12:31 AM GMT
    Yeah I wasn't expecting any mind blowing discussions or great revelations, I guess I was just hopeful that more people would have an understanding of this stuff. Ultimately it matters not. It's just good to occasionally see that there are others out there who get this. But yeah ultimately it doesn't matter and you really can't expect a lot from gay forums as a place for it anyway. It's just me choosing the wrong venue again, not so unlike my gym guy thread...haha
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    Jul 13, 2008 12:44 AM GMT
    Yep. I think people here are more interested in Booty than Buddha!icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 13, 2008 12:04 PM GMT
    Who da Buddha?

    And wur d Booty? icon_lol.gif
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    Jul 13, 2008 12:22 PM GMT
    ActiveAndFit saidYep. I think people here are more interested in Booty than Buddha!icon_biggrin.gif


    Photobucket
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    Jul 13, 2008 4:50 PM GMT
    RBY71 said
    ActiveAndFit saidYep. I think people here are more interested in Booty than Buddha!icon_biggrin.gif


    Photobucket
    wow, I did not know that the smiley had a bubble butt
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    Jul 13, 2008 4:54 PM GMT
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/186135/
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    Jul 13, 2008 5:01 PM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said
    RBY71 said
    ActiveAndFit saidYep. I think people here are more interested in Booty than Buddha!icon_biggrin.gif


    Photobucket
    wow, I did not know that the smiley had a bubble butt


    Nope, THAT'S an Apple Bottom!! WAY better than a bubble butt!!!
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    Jul 13, 2008 6:19 PM GMT
    a1972guy said
    ActiveAndFit said
    RBY71 said
    ActiveAndFit saidYep. I think people here are more interested in Booty than Buddha!icon_biggrin.gif


    Photobucket
    wow, I did not know that the smiley had a bubble butt


    Nope, THAT'S an Apple Bottom!! WAY better than a bubble butt!!!

    icon_eek.gifApple?? does it come with a worm?
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    Jul 14, 2008 12:46 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said
    a1972guy said
    ActiveAndFit said
    RBY71 said
    ActiveAndFit saidYep. I think people here are more interested in Booty than Buddha!icon_biggrin.gif


    Photobucket
    wow, I did not know that the smiley had a bubble butt


    Nope, THAT'S an Apple Bottom!! WAY better than a bubble butt!!!

    icon_eek.gifApple?? does it come with a worm?


    No, it comes with a stem. You provide the worm.icon_wink.gif
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    Jul 14, 2008 3:20 PM GMT
    "It's as hard as I choose."

    Profoundly true, TRUE. Some people don't make the right choice when it comes to their fitness.

    "It's as hard as I choose" will definitely be a mantra I will be repeating in my head now, to motivate myself to work harder.
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    Jul 21, 2008 6:47 AM GMT
    a1972guy said
    YngHungSFSD saidI had hoped there would be more replies to this, but I guess it goes to show that there are few that understand.


    Actually this is the first time I had seen this thread and MUST say thank you! Thank you to YngHungSFSD and TRUE!! Both were hands down AMAZING, ENLIGHTENING, thought provoking, in depth, and VERY motivating!! Thank you guys for sharing your minds with us!!



    You're very welcome, thanks for taking the time to say thanks and express that you understand where these thoughts are coming from. It's good to know somebody gets it.

    Also, a big shout out and thank you to TRUE for starting this topic. It was an excellent idea and I've greatly enjoyed reading your post.