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Right Moves: The Mandala

If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that topics in health and fitness are of an interest to you. It’s also likely that you’re familiar with, maybe even without realizing, that our culture drills an “everything counts” mantra into our minds. Everything.

Think about it.

I love that my Apple Watch seamlessly and tirelessly records my every move so that I never have to go a moment without knowing my active calorie burn, hours stood, resting heart rate, and how many minutes I’ve exercised. It even reminds me to breathe. I love that MyFitnessPal allows me to stay on track with my macronutrients and water intake so that I can be intentional with my meals.

We track our daily mileage down to the steps. Our calories are broken down into macronutrients. Staying hydrated is measured by ounces. And just the other day, a stranger at the gym reminded me that, “Every rep counts!”

Is this bad? No! In fact, I think that the knowledge and technology that makes all this possible for us deserves to be celebrated. However, like many things in this world, this can all quickly become dangerous.

Our society has slowly chiseled away at the pillars of health, and we are left focusing, sometimes ruminating, on gathering the rubble that once built them.

Everything counts, but none of it really matters. The best illustration of this concept is the mandala.

Tibetan Monks all gather around, hunching over a giant table cupping colorful grains of sand in their palms. They chant, burn candles, and spend up to a few weeks arranging individual grains of sand in an expansive circle representing the universe. Each and every grain of sand is intricately and intentionally placed among the rest. The final product is a large, ornate circle. It wouldn’t be the same if even the smallest grain of sand were to be moved out of place.

The Monks collectively pray over it, destroy it, then toss the handfuls of sand into a nearby stream. That mandala can never be recreated.

Everything counted, but none of it really mattered.

I like to imagine of all the details of my life, specifically my diet and exercise,  as grains of sand in a giant mandala. No piece serves without a purpose, and I have every right to step back and celebrate the intricate design. But I must be okay with knowing that it is all temporary.

As much as this is a hard pill for me to swallow, it brings a sense of peace. When I feel overwhelmed and frustrated on the days when I’ve failed to reach ten thousand steps, drink sixty ounces of water, or I didn’t eat enough grams of protein, I want to remember that at the very least, it’s okay.

This all goes back to the importance of self-acceptance and self-care. How can we care for ourselves, our mental and physical health, while simultaneously criticizing our efforts? It would be like taking one step forward, and three steps backward. Not much distance would be made.

While prioritizing your macronutrients, steps, water intake, and exercise goals are all commendable, I hope that this invites you to have peace about this entire pursuit. The details do matter, but they are a part of something much more.

For more information on the mandala, read here


“In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.” -Xun Kuang


Written by: Aly Fuller, BA – Psychology

Energy Krazed Coach