A couple years ago I was riding my bike down 101 into a head wind and a friend drove by.  I did not see him at the time, but later he said to me “you looked so serious”. I have actually have heard this comment a few times in my life and I had to give it some thought. What my friend had seen was in fact just a face void of emotion. To tell you the truth, often when I am running or riding or weight lifting (if I am in the “zone”); I am not really present at the surface and somewhat absent. I am meditating! As a long time educator of fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles,  my goal has always been to help my clients and friends and anyone else that will listen, understand the spirituality of training and fitness. The experience one has, no matter what sport or action you choose is so much more than purely a physical event. There are elements to training that go far beyond that.  And there lies the hook. I will admit of course there are times when I go for a run or workout in the gym when it just does not sync and the pistons are not firing. I call those times utility workouts. These are dues that must be paid because I know there are the payoff days.  This part of the discipline, which in itself is a form of mediation- the ever existing balance in life and in training, the Ying and the Yang.

The beginning is difficult. We tend to mostly experience fitness in the left brain and the body seems uncomfortable. I want to convey to you the need to allow that experience, and move through it. Allow yourself to be a beginner, knowing that with the consistency of the discipline you will begin to reap rewards. And it can happen very quickly. When you begin your training it is important to let go of some of the images  you have in your mind of what your body “should” look like or the mind chatter of how “out of shape you are” and so on. Training is more than vanity and more than looking good. Yes you are there to improve your health by becoming more fit but the real catch is the sense of self and well-being. A transformation occurs through training that leads you to discover who you are and a time to commune with yourself, a time to self-reflect.


I personally love strength/weight training and have been hooked since I was 17 years old. For me, it’s something I enjoy doing for its own sake apart from the results it gives me.

  • Weight training allows you to communicate precisely with every muscle in your body, to send blood and vitality to every space.
  • Weight training lets you lose track of time. You go into a flow where you become absorbed in the moment-by-moment process.
  • Weight training develops physical intuition. You get a gut-level sense, an instinct of what your body needs.
  • Weight training is ever changing and you learn to be flexible and receptive. You learn to let go of preconceptions of how you think you will train on any certain day. You go with plans but they do not always happen.

Another love of mine is running. It allows me to experience myself like nothing else. I do not see running as a social event.  Usually I run alone. I don’t like to talk and breathe at the same time when I run. Personally I like to focus on breathing, and natural awareness that puts the world on hold. Thoughts come and go from my mind and all I can really do is breath and tune into the effort and surroundings. I love running trails and I don’t mind if they are uphill, (that just means I go slower and think of breathing even more). Nature and running go together like peanut butter and jelly, another one of my favorite things.  But that’s for another article about nutrition.

Whether you are a runner or a walker, the solitarily aspect of that event allows each of us a uniqueness. It is what Ralph Waldo Emerson called our "individual genius," our special way of being in the world. George Sheehan the famous running guru phrased it nicely when he said, “I know of no better way to find my own genius than running with no companion except the rhythm of my breathing.”


I suggest that you mix it up, use different forms of fitness so you get to experience a variety of feelings and environments. Strive to do something that involves you being in nature. Something outdoors that you love to do and that can lead to a need to do other physical things that support that. Let’s call that the “physical domino affect”!  Stay positive, I know that sounds cliché but try and let go of negative thoughts and chose to simply stay aware of your physical experience, with practice and with the physiological changes that will occur it gets easier!

Training is not a destination it is a place that you can find in within yourself and spirit!

Ready to start some new habits for 2010?

New habits mean a change, which means changes in lifestyle. It is as simple as that but, it’s not that simple is it? What does it mean to create life style changes? What this means is reviewing how we spend the hours in our days, doing what we do. We then decide we want to change some of the ways we spend some of our time.

You have to ask yourself what do you want to do less of, none of, or more of.

Make a point to evaluate how do you spend your hours?

This is your lifestyle!

Make a list:

What do you want to do in your daily routine that you do not do now?

What do you not want to do in your daily routine that you do do now?

I would suggest picking out no more then three items or even one if it’s a big one, (like quitting smoking), from the “do not” list and the same from the “do list”.

Now you have decided which behavior(s) you don’t want and which one(s) you do want we have to make a plan and set some goals. See how easy this is starting to look?

What does it mean to break a habit? “They” say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. I say it takes as long as it takes but remember every journey starts with the first step. Sorry for the cliché but sometimes they just work!

You have made your decision on which piece of your life you want to eliminate or which part you want to bring in your life. Now you need to set a date and write it down. Count out 21 days that you will make the commitment to follow your plan. Getting easier?


  • Write down your goal. There is magic in the written word when it applies to you. Phrase it in positive affirmations. For example “I want to have healthy clean lungs” instead of “I have to quit this ugly smoking habit”
  • List the reasons why you want this change. Again, writing things down will help you think it out and bring in a higher conscience level. Your commitment becomes solidified.
  • New Habits-Remember the things you want to change take time. They have defined how your spend time.  This is the issue. So, we need to find a new routine for that time. For example, if it’s smoking after eating, try drinking a glass of water or having a sugar free lollypop etc...
  • Talk to yourself but be kind, as if you  were your own best friend! Tell you how good you are doing and keep yourself on track.
  • Ask for support from the folks that are around you.
  • Watch out for those that interfere or want to sabotage. It’s scary for some people to see you change. Be aware, assertive and gentle.

Can You Change the Way You Think?

A teacher takes a bit of lightweight thread and wraps it one time around a student's wrists.

He tells the class, "This string represents the power of doing something one time. Can you break the string?"

The student easily breaks the thread with a small flick of his wrists. The teacher then wraps the string around the student's wrists many times and repeats the challenge to break it.

Despite repeated efforts, the lightweight thread is too strong to break.

His teacher says, "Now you see the power of repeated actions… habits. It takes more than mere willpower and personal strength to break them. It takes a change in the way you think about the problem." (Author unknown to me)

By changing our thoughts and our mental images we can change our reality and our life style. Creative visualization- see it, be it! This mental technique can help you attain the goals you set out for yourself.

When I coached bicyclists on how to avoid crashing (always a good thing), I would say “look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go”!  This works in our daily life as well, keep a picture in your mind of the person you want to be. Thoughts are very powerful. They create and mold our lives. Your personal thoughts travel to others which then can attract assistance.  This can help achieve what it is you would like to accomplish.

Stay positive. Create mental pictures of yourself as having already achieved your goals.

Contentment and health to you in 2010

Zen Lifestyle Workshop

spa manzanita presents


Zen Lifestyles Class

Zen Lifestyles is an interactive, group process experience that involves learning about, and practicing the basic principles of relaxed thinking, mindful attention, emotional vibrancy, behavioral flexibility, soulful creativity, and spiritual harmony and peace. This class includes meditation, spontaneous movement and dance, free-form art and writing, open-ended conversation and narration….and lots of laughter, fun, and joyous relationship-building between participants.  Although the “theory” evolved from early Japanese Buddhism, Chinese Taoism, and Christian Mysticism….this class is non-religious in nature….and focuses on fundamental dynamics of compassion, freedom, creativity, happiness, community-building, and love.  


To be held at:                        spa manzanita

                                                                 "one block from the pacific ocean"

                                                                144 Laneda Ave.

                                                                 Manzanita, Oregon

                                                                 503 368.4777




Days and Time:          Monday Evenings at  6pm           


                                                          January 12 – February 16 (6 weeks)

           $70 (for entire class)



William Eldridge, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus and Psychotherapist, Ohio State Univ.

(503) 436-0766


 Bill is a retired Existential Psychotherapist and Social Work Professor from Ohio State University, with nearly 40 years experience in teaching, consulting, writing about, and researching various dynamics of human growth and development, self-actualized living, psycho-emotional harmony and balance, inspirational living, and healthy communities.  He was the Founder of the Center for Peace Studies and Community Development in Columbus, Ohio….and now lives in Cannon Beach, to be near his family and twin grandchildren, in Portland.