Practice = Becoming

What we think about matters…alot. In fact, what we think about has the power to change the course of our life as well as the power to improve or destroy the world we inhabit. Over the course of our lifetime, our thinking may literally bring life or death to all those things (people, nature, etc) with whom we relate. While reading my daily devotional (from Fr. Richard Rohr/Center for Contemplation and Action), I was pricked and challenged anew to re-consider my own ‘thinking thoughts’ in relation to nonviolence. The following is an excerpt from this morning’s reading; the colored text is what caught my attention:

What does it mean to be nonviolent? Coming from the Hindu/Sanskrit word ahimsa, nonviolence was defined long ago as “causing no harm, no injury, no violence to any living creature.” But Mohandas Gandhi insisted that it means much more than that. He said nonviolence was the active, unconditional love toward others, the persistent pursuit of truth, the radical forgiveness toward those who hurt us, the steadfast resistance to every form of evil, and even the loving willingness to accept suffering in the struggle for justice without the desire for retaliation. . .

Another way to understand nonviolence is to set it within the context of our identity. Practicing nonviolence means claiming our fundamental identity as the beloved [children] of the God of peace. . . . This is what Jesus taught: “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the sons and daughters of God [Matthew 5:9]. . . . Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors, then you shall be sons and daughters of the God who makes [the] sun rise on the good and the bad, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” [Matthew 5:44-45]. In the context of his visionary nonviolence—radical peacemaking and love for enemiesJesus speaks of being who we already are. He talks about our true identities as if they propel us to be people of loving nonviolence. . . .

If only we could, all of us together, just practice being who we are created to be…LOVE! Just be LOVE in a body with hands and feet, arms and legs, heart and soul; willing to become, to embody and to embrace the essence of life force. If only we could remind each other to stay focused and true to our collective calling and in so doing realize this as our ONE true POWER and FREEDOM. Power and freedom to be pure (love) in motive with kindness towards others.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
Gretchen Rubin

How can we not take a moment, or many moments strung together or apart, for serious contemplation on this matter? Shall we make an effort to engage our thinking? To re-consider or re-arrange disjointed or broken beliefs about ourselves? About who we are at the center and essence of our Being? Shall we together, today, and then again tomorrow and every tomorrow thereafter, PRACTICE BEING LOVE…towards all those things and people and problems which we encounter? 

Will you join me? May we make a pact…you and I and us? Shall we do our own little research project for the purpose of practicing authentic nonviolence? May we test the veracity of this TRUTH (practice = becoming = reality)? Shall we begin again together?

I would love to hear from you. I would love to begin sharing and enlarging our collective goodness and creative genius towards our being and becoming…LOVE. There is no better time than now.

Let There Be Peace on Earth


Transformative Thinking

What’s my excuse? That’s the first thought in my head when I saw this picture and read the article about Cynthia Arnold. She just ran a marathon (3 hours, 11 minutes), pushing her three children in a stroller (a total weight of 185-lbs), and I don’t go outside for a short training run because I think it is too hot (or windy, or dark, or cold, or ???). My question to myself, was instantly answered by myself: “I have no excuse!” Next question to myself: “If you don’t have an excuse…get going!”

Really, I have no excuse for my lack of running these past six months (i.e. all of 2019)! All I have to do is put my shoes on, grab a bottle of water and a hat and shuffle myself out the door and down the street. Instead, most days I have to do mental gymnastics to entice myself to go outside (or onto the treadmill) to go for a run. I think my excuse is this: I believe every thought that comes into my head! And rather than wait for a change of season, I need to have a change of thinking. Clearly, this change needs a catalyst; and I am so grateful for the spark which ignited my motivation anew by Cynthia Arnold and her story which was recently published in Runner’s World.

When I consider how Cynthia runs and trains for her race events, all of a sudden I feel LIGHT, UN-ENCUMBERED, and UN-ATTACHED! Hello, I wake up to my life’s stage and remember that I have the privilege to run whenever or wherever I desire…day or night, hot or cold…summer or winter! True, my desire to run ebbs more than flows these days, but desire is not everything. What I think and believe about my desire or lack of desire is of primary importance. My lazy, weak thinking (and believing) becomes my very own cryptonite! As I think I am…I become. How can I transform my tired, lazy bread-crumb dragging thoughts into energenic, motivational running thoughts? Is transformational thinking a matter of choice? Or is something more mystical required?

deb-5k-heritage-park-e1563302834584.jpg

What alchemy may I invoke to jump start my lackluster motivation? Is it as simple as seeing someone like Cynthia doing an amazing thing and believing that the same is possible for myself? If I think those kinds of thoughts, and follow that trail of thinking like bread crumbs on the yellow brick running path, is it possible that I can transform my running, mind and body, in three months? or six months? Perhaps…and as you can see in the picture above, I am a runner striving to run her best…even with weak thinking! And yet, when I consider how important running is to me, and how much I want to better my running and enlarge my accomplishments, it is these kinds of thoughts which begin to make me feel like a runner again. These are the thoughts which make me feel empowered…motivated…energized. When I consider what I have accomplished in my running past, I am propelled to believe that any running goal which I desire strongly enough is indeed within the realm of possibility for me.

So I have to tell you, and I am certain you already know this truth: It is very hard, solitary work, to strive towards achieving something big for yourself! Living life to the full or overflowing is not for sissies or weaklings of spirit. And this is why I so appreciate the running community, near and far; because runners of every shape, size and ability engage the same challenges when aspiring to run their best, whether in training or racing. Clearly, what makes a runner successful, or anyone else for that matter, is the strength of one’s desire and the will to train one’s mind to master the doubts of doom or gloom.

I have worked hard, logged a lot of miles, and try every day to be grateful for my physical health. I always want to be faster, better, and place higher. I enjoy competing and even when I’ve met my arbitrary goal for a race, I always pick apart how I could have done it even better.  I’ve failed a lot in my races, but I don’t let the failures define me. Instead, I choose to be happy about what I can do.  Carissa Liebowitz

So in all of this writing to and for you, I hope to become a part of the alchemy which may energize each one of us towards transformative thinking and moving and acting. I hope thereby to encourage you, if you are at all struggling with soggy-bread-crumb thinking or lack-luster desire. I hope you will read the stories behind the lives of successful runners like Deena Kastor, Carissa Liebowitz, and Cynthia Arnold. Read their back stories and remember, they believed they could achieve great things for themselves…and they were not afraid to work hard and keep their focus steady.

When I see the pictures and read the stories of my running heroes, I think they suffer not as I do. I think my heroes, young or old, are immune to weak thinking and struggle not with lack of motivation, or strength or confidence. And then…they remind me; they tell their story and they remind me; they wake me up to myself and my life as only I may live it. They share their experiences and in doing so, they help transform me and my thinking. I take their thoughts, and add them to my warehouse, to my repertoire of running possibilities.

 

 


Showing Up…Is the Reward

I have never run a ‘race pace’ so slow in all the races I have entered in the last five years. But I have never felt more accomplished than I do now 9 days after completing my first marathon.  If you have read any of my previous blog posts from the past several months, you will know how meaningful this marathon finish is to me. I am exceedingly grateful and supremely amazed that I was able to convince my legs to keep moving for 26.2 miles non-stop for five and a half hours. Clearly, the body is able if the mind is willing and believing!

“All you need is the courage to believe in yourself and put one foot in front of the other.” — Kathrine Switzer

As a personal trainer, many of my clients had no doubt I could accomplish this distance to completion. But I had other thoughts and beliefs about my ability; thoughts that could not comprehend such an accomplishment. Giving attention to those kinds of thoughts did not make a finish line seem likely in my future. I did not like thinking those kinds of thoughts nor did I like the way those thoughts made me feel. They made me feel impotent in my striving; they made me feel foolish for desiring such a goal for myself; those lousy negative thoughts took away my joy. And whenever I caught myself in that downward spiral, I got mad and made myself wake up to change the channel of my thinking.

“You don’t need to do twenty-five squats today to build your quad muscles. You need to think five positive thoughts about your motivations for running, fitness, and lifelong health. Because it’s not the quads that will get your legs moving, it’s the thoughts.” –Amby Burfoot

Clearly, the work before race day had already been done in my physical training. And as the calendar pages flipped closer to my marathon, I realized the greatest obstacle I would face would be my own thinking thoughts. So there was nothing else for me to do except give myself permission to think thoughts about all those things that could and would go right for me during the marathon.

I remember now, how those kinds of thoughts felt like such a luxury to me during the race…truly like the wind beneath the wings of my feet. Astonishment was my traveling companion in those last six miles to the finish…how was it possible to arrive at this distance feeling so exhilarated and and so grateful?

I have never before known such personal determination. And yet, I know there were so many others who gave me assistance on my way to the finish line…of this I am most gratefully certain! Between the cheering spectators on the course and at home, I sit here today, nine days later amazed. Amazed that I moved my legs for more than fifty-two thousand consecutive steps to cross a finish line I set out to concur more than nine months ago…my first marathon finish. What an honor and privilege it is to run this race we call life!

MCM 2018 finish

Deb (#679) finishing the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon

“Life is for participating, not for spectating.”
― Kathrine Switzer


Riddle Me This

Who are you?

Who you think you are is everything! Have you ever stopped to listen to what you are telling yourself about yourself? You should try it some time. Listening…to the dialog. You may have to sneak up on yourself, and pretend like you’re eves dropping on someone else’s conversation, but take some minutes in any given day to be quiet and alert to your inner dialog. Then notice how you feel about yourself after listening to your self-talk.

Do you have warm, accepting feelings about the YOU of your thinking? Or do you disdain and belittle the person, the YOU of your thinking? Do you realize YOU are the author of your life’s story? Can you wrap your mind around this truth: WHAT you think about yourself is WHO you become? Is it time for you to re-write your script?

English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones is noted for saying that, “Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

In my profession as a personal trainer, people pay me to help them reconfigure their bodies. But what my clients may not be aware of, is that I am also training them to pay attention to their mind via what they are thinking…especially, what they are thinking about before and after they exercise.

If a client thinks she can or cannot achieve the fitness goal she has set for herself, then I guarantee that she most certainly will achieve what she is thinking and believing.

What you think means more than anything else in your life. More than what you earn, more than where you live, more than your social position, and more than what anyone else may think about you. Every problem introduces you to yourself. It shows you how you think and what you’re made of.” George Matthew Adams

A very important part of my training program is to teach my clients how to be their very own best cheerleader.  When I am with them, I encourage them, with positive words, stories and suggestions to help them understand that they have the power to change a negative health behavior into a positive healthful habit.

Mind is everything; muscle–pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.
Paavo Nurmi, Finnish Olympian who won nine gold medals

When I am with them, I am the voice in their head. If they spend enough time with me and believe the things I tell them as true, then my words, spoken into their listening ears and received by a believing heart will soon become internalized. My thoughts about them will  become their own thoughts, their own dialog, their own story about who they are and who they are becoming. Thinking becomes believing. Mind is the master, not the servant, of the body.

Living with the end in mind informs the decisions we make each day.
A Common Ground ~ Todd Outcalt

Everyone feels lost and out of sorts in life from time to time. This is a natural by-product  of the human experience. Since we will deal with difficulties as long as we inhabit our physical body, perhaps we should consider our trials as benefactors in disguise.

What if we turned our thinking around? What if we chose to think of those things we don’t like about our self or our life as gifts to help us discover who we really are at our essence?  What if our upset or short coming is our clarion call for change?

     Consider that your learning goal is the ongoing pursuit of a lifetime of consistent physical movement and self-care.
If you are going to be successful staying physically active and taking care of yourself, you need to learn Strategies that will enable you to prioritize your plans and be consistent, flexible, and creative as you learn to incorporate physical activity into the rest of your dynamic, ever-changing life.
The Strategy of beginning with the end in mind asks you to take the long view: Your goal is lifelong behavior change, and that’s what you want to keep in mind ~ always.
Michelle Segar ~ No Sweat

Now tell me again: Who are you?


Thoughts Well Chosen

Run the Mile You Are InI do not know who quipped these wise words, but they have been especially helpful to me in regards to my run training of late. In fact, when I consider how useful this mantra has been for my running, I realize that this idea easily transfers into my non-running life too.

Whether putting in the miles for long road races or technical trail races, I often find I need to avail myself of this wisdom. Run training cycles can wear on a runner’s mind as much as the miles wear on the body, and I find I am most tempted to quit a run when facing those tired, anxious thoughts during long solo runs. However, now that I have added this mantra to my runner’s tool box, I have discovered a powerful implement to beat off negative run-thinking.

As many runners will attest, the power of a well chosen mantra can allay and repurpose unproductive thinking during a hard run. This mantra has become my new best-friend and a powerful antidote for run-weary thoughts. When I focus my mind on these words, I  am firmly re-connected to my body as it moves in the present moment. From this present perspective I settle my breathing and my pace and I find it possible to relax my grip on the unknown, which is measured in miles to go until I finish.

Savor the quest, not the finish. The Cool Impossible ~ Eric Orton

Thoughts of the unknown are always projected onto the movie screen of the future. The minutes, hours, and days which we cannot physically inhabit, become the playground for bullies who taunt our imagination with fearful images of ourselves as incompetent, inadequate school yard failures.

This driving need of ours, to know what we cannot know, has the potential to strip us not only of physical energy but also of happiness and joy for the journey we are currently running; whether it’s the next 100 feet of uphill trail or the next blank page of a manuscript which needs to be filled with narrative, story and conviction.

Every race is a question, and I never know until the last yards what the answer will be. Long Run Solution ~ Joe Henderson

It’s funny how this one little mantra has taught me something about thoughts well chosen; about how thoughts have no power over me except to distract me into believing them as true. And I have become keenly aware of the importance of choosing quality thoughts, because quality thoughts produce quality running and quality living.

When I direct my thoughts to inhabit the moments of now, they clearly have their effect on me. When I run in the present mile, I have focus and strength and breath for each step I take in the present mile. I do not, I can not, and I will not worry about whether I’ll have breath or strength for the miles ahead. I am training myself to just keep moving…for now.

From this perspective I am able to focus my mind and body on the powerful physical movements I am making towards my finish line, rather than wasting precious energy entertaining ideas of what I may not be able to accomplish.

My run training has taught me that as my body responds to the training effects of physical repetition and practice, my mind likewise improves its ability to inhabit and reflect on the current moment rather projecting itself into the future.

I feel silly admitting that at 50+ years of age, I am still learning how to live positively in the reality of the present, fully inhabiting all the moments which make this time now.  But here’s the beauty of learning how to live in the land of now: with every step and stride I take, I grow in confidence that my breath and legs will be adequate for the journey…to carry me through the mile I am already in.