If we were to simply acknowledge the truth of our human strength and beauty, to connect with ourselves, each other and life in deeper, richer and more meaningful ways, we would save unthinkable amounts of time, energy, money and angst. More money can buy more things but more things don't seem to be bringing us more happiness. The concept of spiritual bankruptcy speaks to the idea that we can become poor and empty inside, our inner worlds deficient or completely ignored, despite the riches that might colour our outer worlds. Indeed, the more things we have in our lives and on our agendas, the less time we actually have for ourselves. By striving for happiness through accolades, things or others' approval we can find ourselves compromising our true selves to `succeed' in life, in our own or others' eyes, or to make things work. It is no surprise that chasing worldly gains at the expense of our spiritual richness leaves us stressed, strained and profoundly compromised. If we were to see that living mindfully with gratitude and generosity of spirit brought us true happiness, so much competition, comparison, clutter and disappointment could be circumvented. Just as important, functional fitness exercises prepare you to perform the cardiovascular and strength-training workouts you need to both manage your weight and increase your well-being. By helping you build up strength and flexibility, they reduce your likelihood of injury when you begin those more rigorous forms of exercise, and they also make cardio and strength-training workouts feel like less of a chore. That's going to help you stick with the twelve-week program and beyond. Your flexibility--the range of motion available in a joint, such as the shoulder, or a series of joints, such as the spine--is determined partly by genetics. But stretching regularly can help improve your flexibility. On the flip side, you can lose flexibility if you don't make stretching a habit. What does flexibility do for you? Never stretch a cold muscle. At rest, there is less blood flow to the muscles and tendons, making them stiffer. Think of your muscles as rubber bands or bubble gum: If you stretch either of these when they are cold, they might snap. Stretch them when they're warm, however, and they will stretch more easily. Same for muscles. Let's go over the process once more.

Start with the rule (both spoken and unspoken). Decide whether it serves you well in the present. If it does, all good. If not, how do you want to change it and what specific behaviors will follow? Ask someone you trust if you doubt your own objectivity. Then it's time to take action. Start applying the new rule to your behavior. By themselves, memories pass quickly. Maybe--just maybe--you remember your first butterfly, your first taste of ice cream, your first bicycle. But when that memory has consequences, it becomes a life story. It's those consequences, the connections between the incident and the result, that make the memories useful. They become small stories that you refer to later in life. When you feel insecure, you remember the story about falling down. When you're afraid of being alone, you recall the story, and the fear, of being bitten by the dog. Find a belief you have that does not serve you well. In his book, Richard suggests the belief you feel you are unable to learn easily. Find examples in your life, probably from your school days. Notice how your senses were at the time. Think of and write down the sound the way you hear it in the memory. Where did it come from?

Whose voice is it? How does it sound - loud, bass, sharp? Note all the variations. Do the same for images and feelings. Note all things involved. Where, how, and in what way. (Investigate more about submodalities.) Write them down, now. Find a strong belief in something you do brilliantly. With ease. In the same way as above, note and write down the way the senses form themselves when thinking of this strong belief. Compare the two, paying particular attention to the differences related to the size of images, their movement, and where they are in your imagined mental space (left, right, up or down, etc.) Feeling constantly hurried and out of touch with the rhythms of our earth deeply affects our vitality, equanimity and spaciousness. Many of us work indoors, wake up hurried and rush out the door, leaving no time to enjoy the sunrise, stargazing, earthing or pottering around: simple things that have healed, restored and replenished human beings over immeasurable moons. All things said and done, we are part of nature and need to heed her ways. Mother Nature takes her time and achieves all that she needs without hurrying. As Ovid reminds us, a rested crop makes for a beautiful harvest. There is a season, a rhythm, a time and a place for everything. Energising sunrises follow dark, restful nights; vibrant rainbows follow clouds and rain; little buds blossom into magnificent flowers. We are crafted of the same intelligence as all living forms within nature. We need only to respect, love and learn from the wisdom of nature to gain precious, healing insights into our own lives. We are very quick to say that we are very busy and have no time.

We even compare our busy agendas and bustling lives. When we slow down, however, we can do things well and with love. Living slowly, time miraculously expands to accommodate us and suddenly we do not feel time-poor, we feel time-rich. Through our mindfulness we create greater spaciousness in and around ourselves, and our lives flow in a far more efficient, entirely different way. By embracing the joyous magic and richness that life can bring, our experience of time radically transforms. Our days become less like hurried races to mobile finishing lines and more like decadent, deeply rewarding journeys. Stretch after--not before--a cardio workout or light warm-up. Again, you don't want to stretch a cold muscle, and you'll get the most benefit from stretching when exercise has increased the blood flow to your muscles. Don't bounce. Repeatedly moving up and down in a stretch can actually cause a tiny amount of damage (called microtrauma) in the muscle. Once damaged, the muscle works diligently to repair itself, which can create scar tissue. Scar tissue then makes the muscle less pliable, causing a decrease in flexibility. Stretch to the point where you feel a mild tug but no pain, and hold it there. Hold stretches for 15 to 30 seconds. The greatest change in flexibility has been shown to happen in the first 15 seconds, and no significant improvement occurs after 30 seconds. Release, then repeat the stretch at least two times but no more than four times. More than that has not been shown to confer any significant improvement. Now's the time to write out your new rules and the new choices that naturally follow. Create as many as you possibly can, again perhaps starting with ones that would be easiest to implement, followed by those that might be hardest. You could decide, "I don't want any more rules." But that's a bit much.

What new rules and beliefs about yourself or others do you want to apply to your life now? They won't always be the opposite of the old rule, or they might be. Set the bar as high as you're comfortable setting it--knowing you can always come back and re-create. As you begin living by your new rules, what you were governed by in the past--fear, guilt, shame, avoidance--will become clearer. Remember the freedom that both Mark and Juliette felt? Initially, they had to fight through a lot of unease and confusion. You'll get there as well! It can be very powerful to experience letting go of a rule or belief that has held you hostage for many years, and then choose the unfamiliar path. And although very positive in many ways, it can feel extremely awkward and "wrong." I'll also challenge you to recall the emotional and mental states you were experiencing. So get ready for questions like, "What emotions or change of emotions did you have at this time?" "Were you confused or eager when this moment happened?" "Did you feel as if you were going to die?" "Were you in a mental fog, or were you clear-minded?" "Did you feel love or hate?" Don't feel uncomfortable, however, if you do not have recollections of defining moments for each age. These events happen at different times, often many within a small period, depending on the circumstances of our lives and our personal challenges during those times. And don't feel bound by the short description I've provided as to each stage. The point is simply to stimulate your thoughts with some general observations about that stage. Those general observations may or may not apply to your particular experience of life. Form again the image of not learning easily. Then, push the image of not learning easily into the distance until it is a small pinprick. Move it into line with where the positive image is. Snap it back to where your great belief exists. Make all of the sensory experiences match the very strong belief of confidence and proficiency. See yourself being very relaxed and accepting information easily and readily.