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Meditation In Motion

Meditation has become a part of my daily routine. While this word may freak some people out, to me, meditation is simply taking the time to focus on my breathing and find inner peace and calm.  It allows me to create a space in which I’m able to be completely present, surrounded by gratitude, bliss and awareness.

I’ve deemed running as my “meditation in motion.”  I’m able to get lost in my own running world as I become aware of the sights and sounds around me.  It’s an absolutely beautiful experience.  However, it’s beauty is only prevalent if I’m in the right place mentally.

Since announcing my audacious goal of 13.1×10, people have shown a huge amount of support. (Which I am entirely grateful for, and my heart is so full!) A major question I find myself being asked is “Which will you actually race.”  And I respond honestly with, “I haven’t thought about it!”  I began exploring this question deeper: which ones should I run at race pace?  On yesterdays 13 mile run, I found my answer:

None of them.

As soon as I start to think about that phrase, “race pace,” I lose sight of the meditation and running just becomes a motion.  Narratives get created in my mind and I find myself surrounded with self judgement and criticism.  I recognized these thoughts surrounded me as I found myself looking down on my run yesterday.  The pavement (and therefore the run) seemed never ending.  Right away, I knew this is not how I want to feel on this run, or any other run whether it’s a mile long or 20 miles long.  So, I took a deep breath in and looked up.

 Now, rather than endless, my run seemed limitless. 

So, I let go of all those thoughts consumed with self doubt and criticism.  People say the only person you should be in competition with is yourself, but I respectfully disagree.  I don’t want to compete with myself from the past, creating these beliefs of how I should and could be running.  So,  I stopped.  No more reflecting on my run history from the past or creating narratives for the future.  It’s time to focus on the now and realize how perfect and beautiful this run, and any run, truly is.

PRs will come without a doubt.  Some races will be better than others.  I’ll be forced to face the heat, the hills, some wind and rain, too.  But, with my focus being meditation in motion, I’ll be able to love each and every moment, and the awareness it brings me.

I’ve found my soulmate pace: my pace in which I’m able to push myself but still have control and awareness of my breath and my surroundings.  For me, keeping a solid 8 minute pace allows me to stay in a meditative state.  There’s moments where I get lost in the run and naturally pick up the pace.  But, for me and for this goal, it’s not about pushing the pace.  It’s about staying in a place of gratitude, bliss and presence as my body carries me down a new path.  It’s about finding balance and persevering mentally.  It’s about showing my students that goal setting comes in different shapes and sizes, each ambition unique to the individual.  It’s about keeping my runs limitless.  It’s about meditation in motion.

Am I still nervous?  Of course.  Mindfulness is a practice.  Each course will bring it’s own set of challenges, it’s own way of trying to take me from mindful to mindless.  I’m confident, though, that with my purpose and students in my mind, I can and will persevere, enjoying each most steps I take.

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What does meditation in motion mean to you?  How do you use motion to create a space of presence and bliss?

My First Time With Bikram

Incase you are unfamiliar with the yoga term, Bikram is not a person.  But if it was one, it would be a hot, sweaty, strong person.

Let’s rewind for a minute.  I’ve been steering away from Bikram yoga for a couple of reasons.

1. I was petrified of hot yoga.  I have a fear of sauna’s.  I slightly blame my mother (love you mom!) for this fear.  Growing up watching horror movie after horror movie, you can’t help but fear getting locked in a sauna by some crazy serial killer. Obviously this fear carried over into a hot yoga room…

2. I am so not flexible.  And, yes, this is exactly why I go to yoga.  But Bikram has a reputation for being strict with it’s poses.  I will be the first to admit I don’t know my poses.

This being said, I was slightly fearful to meet Bikram.  I knew this fear would only turn into a series of unfortunate events: uncontrolled breath, panicked thoughts, (extra hot) hot flashes, running out of the room…you know, everything that could go wrong with a yoga class.

So, instead, I committed to being present. I committed to my breath.  I committed to listening to my body.

And, oh my lanta, I am obsessed.

Basically, this class covered every pose I love to do.  (When I’m a really good yogi…I can tell you the names of those poses…)  We held the pose for x number of seconds, relaxed, and repeated.  I could feel myself loosening up as the sweat dripped poured off my body.

Luckily, the instructor I was practicing with was not your typical, strict instructor.  He was encouraging during each pose, giving the perfect cues letting everyone know how to adjust their body.

Okay, here’s the cheesy part.  My favorite thing was the mirror.  The instructor, Ross, was always reminding us to look at ourselves in the mirror.  Watch yourself move.  Focus on yourself and how your body looks.  Of course there were moments where I did just the opposite.  It wasn’t for comparison, though.  It allowed me to see all the diversity in the room; diversity among 10+ half naked people. It was beautiful.

Last, but not least, here are some tips on how to survive your first time with Bikram

1. Commit to being present.

2. Remember to breathe…especially during those moments of panic

3. Bring a towel…or you’ll be slipping and sliding like I was!

4. Embrace your half nakedness.  It’s going to be hot as hell in there…you’ll want minimal clothing.

5. You may or may not get a little delirious towards the end.  It’s fine, really.  Just listen to your body and rock the heck out of child’s pose or shavasana if needed.

Oh, and check out Bikram Yoga Asheville. I will without a doubt be sweating (profusely) there again.