This past Saturday, in celebration of the 36th birthday of the head coach of my gym, I participated in three different workouts that incorporated his age into reps or time. I fully embrace the use of exercise as celebration and, as with servings of cake, ice cream and friends around the table, when it comes to fitness festivities, the more the merrier! As it turned out, they also all utilized 10 as a multiple and so it was that I completed 360 reps, three different times through the mid-day hours. Give me a number pattern any day and I’m happy – but make it relevant to a metaphorical concept and I’m over the moon (the shape of which is conveniently congruent as you’ll see, or perhaps have already gathered).
After that first workout, I was excited to realize we had moved from 36 to 360 and come full circle, which seems appropriately fitting for a birthday moment. To be clear, I understand the full revolution around the sun for us here on this 3rd nearest planet is 365(6) days, but I am going to adapt poetic license, some creative rounding and roll with the 360 for the purposes of this blog.
At the start of the school year for my sons, there was the initiation of a newly built classroom, highlighted in a campaign for “Closing the Circle” of campus, filling a void where a temporary building sat many years longer than was intended. This phrase creates a sense of finality and exclusion, not fully communicating the experience of creating the classroom and the sense of wholeness it brings to the campus and community. With one simple edit, I offer a more reflective phrase to describe the experience: “Completing the Circle.”
A circle incomplete is but a contoured line, seeking its own end, lacking the necessary contact and continuity to be the truest expression of itself. A circle complete is endless, powerful, sure of its own boundaries and able to hold ample space within. A circle completed thoughtfully with love can be warm and inclusive, strong yet gentle as the arms of an embrace. A circle completed hastily with fear can be cold and exclusive, harsh and intimidating as the prongs of a barbed wire fence.
There are circles of all sorts and stages of completeness in our lives – social, professional, familial; of knowledge, experience and understanding. Where might we have left too long a temporary structure that no longer serves its original intended purpose? How long have we ignored the need for an upgrade, avoiding the demolition and reconstruction necessary to bring our lifeline back into that endless and powerful state of connection? Do we allow for good enough, watching the tattered ends fray as the sacred space within is compromised?
While the next question might be who or what can fill the gap to create connection, let us first consider, in the context of these deepest, most personal, inner circles, that the best inquiry is how can we show up in a way that makes space and lays foundation for the truest solution. How can we proceed thoughtfully, in love, to create an embrace that is warm and inclusive of all that is necessary for our own best health? Trusting our inherent capacity for self-healing, we can create the structure needed for optimal function by harnessing the infinite power of whole represented in these circles of our health.
On the same day as the trio of workouts, before I knew of their numerical offerings, in an attempt to gently and comprehensively manage the many hours now presented to us in this unprecedented time of closure and social distancing, I created a visual guide for our days. Beginning with the first osteopathic tenet of unity of body, mind and spirit, with the assistance of littlest and the perfect shape of our biggest mixing bowl, we created a circle, divided into thirds. Each zone offered specific suggestions for enrichment and nourishment of the body, mind and spirit. As a counter point, a smaller circle with those activities that have frequently presented themselves during this time but serve not the health, was added as were designations of “more” and “less” for clarity and encouragement.
Not ubiquitous, but a reference point for guidance in those moments of “I don’t know what do to next” and “can we watch a show?” This has served as a stable and clear reference with fluidity of choice among the three components of human wholeness, reminding us when we might have unintentionally neglected an aspect in need of support and attention. Completing circles, filling them with loving kindness, holding space and meaningful boundaries, we take steps in the direction of unity and health.
That is how 360 burpees sandwiched between two other 360s became not only manageable but essential, representing progress degree by precious degree from beginning back to beginning. Commemorating the year in the life of my friend, writing and accepting the invitation to start again, to continue on. Celebrating the wholeness of life and stepping into the power of completion. Traveling the hours of each day, morning to night, welcoming the warmth from the orb of the sun and the cool, calming glow of the moon – whole in each phase even when part held in shadow. Full circles of life abound within, around, between and beyond.
May we honor our wholeness and health, experiencing completion from a place of thoughtfulness and love, celebrating the infinite power of our circles of care.