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Fit Soul, Fit Body: A Recipe for Happiness

June 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


Physically speaking, society isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing. For the most part, we’ve migrated far beyond our TV-dinners and chain-smoking tendencies, into a world of flax spinach wraps and daily Pilates routines. Overall, we’re treating our bodies better. But physical fitness is just half the solution to a twofold problem. You don’t have to step back 2,500 years and consult the Buddha to realize balance is the key to completeness. If you read Fit Soul, Fit Body, it’s clear that reaching your highest level of health is about nourishing the physical and the spiritual, at the same time.

The book is the result of two experts, each in opposing fields, who combine their knowledge to form a one-stop guide to health and happiness. Brant Secunda, a world-renowned shaman and healer, brings his expertise from a 12-year pilgrimage with the Huichol – indigenous natives from Western Central Mexico. Co-writer Mark Allen, on the other hand, is a six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. Together, the duo offers a comprehensive way of combining their backgrounds into a full-proof, positive lifestyle. “People are often on either one side of the spectrum or the other, and there’s a missing link,” Secunda says. “So we’ve united these two worlds that are not so different, combining, you might say, sport and spirit.”

Readers start off with a Test-Your-Wellness quiz, revealing some need-to-know tidbits about their body and soul. “We created it for everyone, from students to CEO’s, as a way to show where they’re at physically, spiritually or emotionally,” Secunda says. The brief questionnaire acts as a wellness audit, asking about body composition and personal goals. “It’s profound in the sense that it helps people really reflect, which is great because some people don’t realize what condition they’re in,” admits Secunda. The higher a reader’s score, the healthier that person is in mind, body, and spirit. Alternatively, lower scores point to poor overall fitness and the need to take advantage of the book’s insight.

Together, Allen and Secunda offer a series of pointers known as the Nine Keys. The first – how to manage
stress – is a noteworthy skill for everyone. “When you’re stressed, you don’t have that positive motivation to actually take the steps to create good energy,” Allen says. Another key involves transforming the negative emotions of fear, anger, and jealousy. Raised by Huichol step-grandfather Don José Matsuwa, Secunda uses his wisdom, along with tribal attitudes, to develop special exercises. “We try to teach people to let go of their anger and not hold onto it. That’s what I noticed with the Huichol. They’re a little bit like children, where they’ll get angry but get over it really quickly.”

The book also maps out ways of rising above life’s curveballs. Allen used the techniques to conquer the Ironman Triathlon, made up of a consecutive 2.4-mile ocean swim, 180-kilometre bike ride, and a 42-km marathon. “Your physical body can only take you so far, but you can go much farther if you take the time to develop the fitness of your soul,” he says, admitting to drawing strength from the Hawaiian island’s energy to win. Other strategies aim at maintaining health for people working in a daily, boxed-in office space, from taking a brief outdoor nature walk to finding five to 10 minutes of meditation.

Both Allen and Secunda agree: spiritual success means living a happy life, while physical success is about bringing the body into a state of balance. Combined, the two philosophies form a rich recipe for living well – something even Buddha would smile about.


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