Reeling it In

I got my ass handed to me this morning and I didn’t even have enough left to say, “Thank you.”

I was off. Tired. Tapped.

Monday mornings now come at me with a full dose of dread. More than your usual Monday mornings – these are soul-crushing and ass-kicking with the anticipation of another work week. There is something to be said for opening up the window to your full potential but the task of having to stand and look out of it while you make all the necessary preparations to jump is tedious.

I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up early to Sigur Ros, “Saeglopur”. I thought it would lift my spirits but it only made me melancholy. I was more serious and quiet in boot camp than normal. I dug my way down deep into the physical pain of burning shoulders and stayed there. It was comforting and real.

Inside the pain of slow squats and shoulder presses, all of the rest disappears and falls away. I’m not only addicted to the endorphins and the adrenaline, I’m entranced with the escape. I always find myself closing my eyes which used to drive my trainer absolutely insane.

“You are holding 25 pound weights above your head!” he would say, exasperated, “How can you even think of closing your eyes?”

I understood his point but I also knew exactly where they were, I didn’t need to see them.

There is a fine line between being focused and present in a movement or exercise, and slipping over into that trance-like state where the burning begins to to pulse, and the pulse is like a rocking sensation that lulls you and calms you. It’s like that point during a run when everything becomes even and steady and your arms and legs move on their own accord. It’s almost like you can’t feel them anymore, like they’ve gone numb, and you’re body is on its own. The mind detaches and floats. The world shifts around you by 3 degrees, the vantage point is changed, the slant of things is new. Your lungs filling with oxygen is the most beautiful sensation that you can image and you become momentarily aware of every single cell in your body.

It doesn’t happen that often and, frankly, you don’t expect it in a gym – or with a set up eight-pound dumbbells. But you never know.

Part of what I like about yoga is the focus on breath and the clearing of the mind. It’s about intention – intention of breath, intention of movement, intention of presence. This is a conscious effort. Be here and nowhere else, push everything else aside. My goal, whenever I turn to my body to perform and move, is to maintain and find that place of release and calm. Yoga validated this practice, and helped me find words for it, but I’ve been doing it for years now.

It doesn’t have to be limited to the serene, dimly-lit studio space. You don’t need a soft-spoken yoga instructor with a cashmere voice to take you there. You need focus. And perseverance. And breath.

The point of this, for me, is the opportunity to be discerning about what I choose to put back in, once I have cleared as much as I can to the side. All the dread and self-doubt and impatience and frustration that I woke up with this morning is left to lie wherever it fell. Grit and determination are left – and a sense of encompassing reassurance.

I can do this. In fact, I’m going to kick ass.

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2 comments

  1. SP,

    I didn’t know you had a blog! This rocks! I know what you mean about the 3 degree shift of an incredible run. The effort falls away. The legs go by themselves. You are running faster than you think you should but it works. You just don’t forget those runs where everything flows.

    -Austin

  2. Thanks, Austin. Actually, I’ve been keeping a personal blog for almost 5 years. This is my attempt at being more “public” and “focused”. I found over the years that people really liked the running, cycling, working-out, general motivation stuff that I wrote so I decided to begin moving it over into what you see here. I still have to load in all my entries from 2002-2004 but this is a start! :)

    Thanks for stoppin’ by.

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