Listen

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Here are the thoughts I shared in this week’s yoga classes ūüôā

Moving our body in unison with our breath quiets the external static so we can tune in and listen to our soul.

“I can’t imagine someone not listening to the world around them- the birds, the rainfall, their friends, the crunch of running shoes on new fallen snow, or simply their own thoughts. The ability to listen, in all its forms, seems to me one of our most-human gifts. We cannot learn without listening; we cannot empathize without listening; we cannot make big decisions without listening to both heart and mind. Whether a decision is purely personal or involves dozens or even hundreds of others, you alone are the person who has to make it, and you can only do it after listening to your own internal monologue.”

-Amby Burfoot

Excerpts from “Finding Ultra”

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Over last weekend I finished this book “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll, a life story of a crazy awesome endurance athlete who transformed his life and promotes veganism (not for any¬†ethical beliefs, but because of how it makes his body feel and perform). ¬†Rich Roll¬†tells his life story growing up, his family,¬†alcoholism and sobriety journey, his slipping into food to cope later as an adult, his relationship with his amazing¬†hippie wife Julie, his career as a lawyer for the Hollywood industry, and how on the eve of his 40th birthday when he was trying to climb the stairs in his home had to stop halfway barely able to catch his breath, he had a¬†moment of clarity that he had to change it all or die young of heart disease. ¬†He tells the story of his journey to health, experiments with food, coaching he received for endurance training, and how he went on¬†to complete¬†the UltraMan triathlon a few times, which is the IronMan triathlon¬†but longer. He tells the story of doing 5 IronMan triathlons in 7 days on 5 different Hawaiian islands with a one-armed fellow endurance athlete.

About his training, he explained Z2 training or building your aerobic engine and duration. ¬†The worst thing you can do when training for an endurance event is to train every day balls to the wall. ¬†You’ve got to slow down to improve. ¬†Wearing a heart rate monitor, his coach told him to never let his heartbeat go above 140 on a run or 130 on a bike. ¬†Going this chill he was doing his runs at a 10+ min mile pace initially, but over time he got up to 8 min mile pace with the same heart rate, drastically improving his endurance for marathons, triathlons, and all kinds of crazy events. ¬†Some days sprints, some days rest, but most days just that slow Z2 training.

There is an appendix full of nutritional info I’m still processing.

Here’s my favorite excerpt from the book, which pretty much sums it all up:¬†“In my case, I had to become introspective about why I ate the foods I did and take an honest inventory of the motivations behind my unhealthy food choices. I had to be honest about how I used food to cope with, deal with, or escape from reality. And so I implore you to do the same: get in touch with your inner workings and explore your psyche, your motivations, and your pain. Develop an understanding of the emotions that drive your unhealthy cravings so that they can be confronted, processed, and ultimately overcome.”¬†

P.S. the irony of posting this after posting about eggs & cheese is not lost on me ūüôā

Windhorse

Windhorse

Here are the thoughts for this week’s yoga classes:

I’ve been enjoying the book Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham, a Tibetan spiritual leader who also happens to have run over a dozen marathons including Boston.¬† He teaches meditation, and this particular book is about the powerful relationship between running and meditation, explaining how to begin a meditative practice in your daily life, and then a few ideas to try during runs.¬† His meditation center in the Colorado mountains offers 3-day running and meditation retreats- I might have to splurge on this someday!

The concept I’ve been most thinking about lately is in chapters 5 & 6 about taming the horse, or the concept of the windhorse, the balance between wind and mind. It’s a really fascinating eastern way to explain the western idea of a runner’s high and mental clarity that comes during and after a long run.

“The breath is like a horse, and the mind is like the rider. When the breath is calm and in control, it is much easier to access the mind”

“The horse represents wind and movement. On its saddle rides a precious jewel. That jewel is our mind…tangible and translucent.”

“Worry increases the movement of wind. The more erratic the wind, the more it moves throughout the body. We experience it as agitated, discursive thinking and emotional highs and lows, which translate into stress-blocked energy. When we run, that wind begins to settle down, and the blockages begin to clear.”

“If we haven’t trained our mind, the wild horse takes us wherever it wants to go. It’s not carrying a jewel on its back- it’s carrying an impaired rider. The horse itself is crazy, so it is quite a bizarre scene.”

“When the mind is running everywhere, it is less available, and we feel tired, heavy, and stressed.”

“The mental clarity brought about by physical exercise is temporary. When the horse has more energy, it resumes running around. Then we have to go for another run, exhausting the mind again…while meditation allows for cumulative benefit to occur.”

“Ultimately both the mind and the body are things we should cherish. The body is the magical horse, and the mind is the magical jewel.”

Personally, I’ve been thinking about this a lot.¬† Guess I figured out why I’ve loved running so much for so long! My mind and life go so fast, so erratically, thinking a million exhausting thoughts and plans at any given second, that when I run and the winds calm down, I love that mental peace that comes as a result, and I crave that clarity.¬† I’m looking forward to more meditative and quiet times ahead of me, to continue to feel the peace and calm that comes during and from running, but to now learn to prolong that incredible feeling and access it anytime.

**artwork is by Marjolaine Robert