meditation

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?

From Mindless to Mindful

So far, this summer has been a somewhat mindless journey.  While most people may see that as relaxing and carefree, I’ve found it to be a personal struggle.  Since my routine has switched up, I’ve had to be more aware and focused on practicing presence and being in the moment.

I’ve always been a big picture kind of person.  I am able to create powerful visions, set my eyes on a goal and chase after it.  However, this makes focusing on details a bit more of a challenge for me.  And I realized, this is exactly whats been limiting my mindfulness this summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely surrounded by gratitude for my summer experiences.  I am provided financial stability with my jobs and am given the opportunity to make connections in a city that is still new to me. But, while I am very aware of all I have to be thankful for this summer, I still couldn’t shake off this feeling of emptiness. When I looked at the big picture of this summer, I recognized I wasn’t in my norm, my comfort, my passion of teaching and was working to make financial ends meet. Of course I was surrounded by more negativity than normal.  Who wouldn’t be with this kind of perspective on their day to day life?

But, I was very aware that I was choosing to look at my life this way.  To simplify the picture and create this less-than exciting narrative for myself. So, as I sat in the shower in this morning, I decided to meditate and let it go.

The first thing I did was recognize the feeling I was surrounded by.  And the best way I could describe it was empty.  What may be empty for others may not match what I’m describing as empty, but for me and my journey, this word just seemed to fit.  So, I was aware of this empty feeling and that I had to let it go, replace it with another emotion.  I wanted to be surrounded by gratitude.  How can I surround myself with gratitude? I started with a reflection of my day so far…all two hours of it.

I got to start my day with a run.  I’ve started to deem running as “meditation in motion” because that’s exactly what it is for me.  I’m able to get lost in the moment as my body moves and pushes itself. So, that was one detail of the morning that surrounded me with gratitude.  The next was new friends to run with.  One friend who I would not have even met if I hadn’t been a part of the lululemon family this summer.  This one detail of gratitude then spiraled into another and another.  My change in schedule has allowed for me meet new people at the box, who go early in the morning, people who I may have rarely ever spent time with if I didn’t have the opportunity to coach early in the morning.  I’ve been able to read books, so many books for pleasure these past few weeks.  I’ve saved money on gas from traveling less by car and more on foot.  I could enjoy a morning run midweek with friends because I didn’t have to be in a rush to get anywhere.  I’ve been able to step foot on my mat multiple times a day, in different settings, in new studios.

I took a deep breath and just like that, emptiness was replaced with gratitude.  My big picture shifted from negative to positive as it was filled with details of love, compassion and excitement.  And all I had to do was take the time to follow the cycle of mindfulness that I preach to my students day in and day out.

The most challenging part was being reminded that I should not judge myself for being mindless.  Each day is a new day, a new journey making us all beginners.  By simply being aware of the mindless habits I was creating allowed me to be more mindful.

So, if you too are finding yourself struggling to go from mindless to mindful, try these steps:

1. Mindful Thinking: be aware of the thoughts and emotions around you.  Do not judge those thoughts and emotions.  Just recognize their presence.

2. Mindful Speaking: say out loud what you will replace these thoughts and emotions with.  Breathe in and breathe out.

3. Mindful Listening: listen to your body, to where you may feel tension, to the thoughts surrounding your mind.  What are you becoming aware of as you work to replace those initial feelings?

4. Mindful Acting: Put it into action. Practice your replacement emotion.  How you do it is up to you.  And always remember to breathe.

If you slip, do not judge yourself.  Simply repeat steps 1 through 4.

Cheers to mindfulness and the mindlessness that sparked the journey.