Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity-
*I wrote this post during a brief stop, riding a century one scoring hot weekend last summer in Nebraska. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it at the time, maybe I was on to something, or maybe not. It’s safe to say that I walk a path in this beautiful world differently than most, and this philosophy carries over into how I help folks to compete, not on the road – but rather in this thing called life*
I am fortunate and humbled by the amazing people I get to talk with each day. The most captivating, and certainly the most personal moments occur when we struggle to “spit it out“, to put into words the thoughts that lie at the very edge of our ability to put them forth as meaningful words, a dense conversation full of wonder and meaning. Each of us has experienced the feeling of straining, against the very limit(s) of putting our thoughts into words, or even these well intended thoughts into actions.
Opening people’s eyes to the real benefits of yoga and training athletes is more than just enhancing their ability in a tangible way (inflated numbers – fleeting results), but rather – developing deeper thinking, a curious mind and wondering too. This really bothers me, deeply. You know what? It flat-out pisses me off … If you can’t think what you can’t say? Don’t put your thoughts into action – with only half your heart. I’m comfortable saying for the first time on this platform, that I am gently leading you on a journey for more words, deeper thought and wondering, exploring different ways to say, see and doing “things“.
Many of us are comfortably corralled within the limits of our power of thought, speech and outward actions. We don’t think anything we can’t say and we can’t say much. The truth of the matter, we don’t even come close to doing the things we can do, and we certainly don’t do much. More often than naught, a closed mind isn’t stubborn, just stunted in its ability to grow, in hibernation so to speak. I feel the same way in-regards to how we live in this byzantine world we called home now-a-days.
To get by in the ultra competitive world we live in, all we need is a few things to think and say, a few things to do, and a few ways to stop our thoughts from running beyond what we’ve already thought.
I feel my work here is done, be well and do take care.
Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a god-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to Paradise.
The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.
A modern definition of equanimity: cool. This refers to one whose mind remains stable & calm in all situations-
Raise your hand if you have ever talked to yourself, or better yet, talked to yourself in the third person during a difficult or trying time in your life. Don’t be shy now – I have two hands waving in the air if that matters?!?
Breathing, positive self talk, calmness, evenness of mind – Chill. The gentle sway of a budding birch tree, daffodils and crocuses awaking underfoot, sharing a smile with a complete stranger as you spin or run on by … All the while talking to yourself, coaching yourself, through a difficult set of experiences.
When talking to myself in the third person I normally recite something like this: “Dude, keep cool, this equanimity stuff? Is pretty damn important! Chill … Breathe … Relax the back of your throat … Eyes forward, Heart Open! Take another deep breath … Breathe … Equanimity is key … Zip it up – You got this!.”
Here I am, some random dude on the inter-webz, openly telling you that I talk to myself – all of the damn time! And who cares if you do the very same! When we are unable to walk – spin – run calmly away from a “situation“? Remember: This equanimity stuff? Is pretty damn important!
Perform all thy actions with mind concentrated on the Divine, renouncing attachment and looking upon success and failure with an equal eye. Spirituality implies equanimity-
Three laps into a grueling mid summer Twilight Criterium. Sweat, pouring from your brow, the last of your patience – exhausted – three laps ago. All the training, the race prep, the money and time spent for this brilliant moment … And who the hell does this Mustached Cinelli Straddling Punk think he is?!? This Phil Wood spinning bastard better get his ass to the back of the line!!!
Your sympathetic nervous system rages, the surge of adrenaline as you grit your teeth, our fight or flight response shifts instantly into high gear. Equanimity, our parasympathetic nervous system, is waiting back at the car, or is it? There is a way to gently pull the brakes on your fight or flight response.
My “trick” to finding equanimity during such stressful and annoying moments, is to simply keep the concept of equanimity at the front of my mind (not in the boot of the car). We all know the feeling of anger taking over our bodies, causing our minds to wander and to spin out of control. Our breathing becomes more shallow, our hearts begins to race, we feel the pressure building behind our eyes, goosebumps, a nervous twitch, the veins in our temples – pulse rapidly.
Whenever and wherever I feel my fight or flight alarm begging to sound? I stop to take a deep breath and place a mental bookmark, a bookmark that reminds me that now is the time I need to bring equanimity back to the forefront of my true-self.
Here’s the no BS deal folks: Training and running a marathon is easy, an ultra distance gravel bike ride is a mere jot around the park in comparison to consciously keeping equanimity at the forefront of our minds. Practicing and learning how to bring evenness to your mind and spirit – Equanimity – Takes a lot of work! Although, at the end of the day … Its pretty damn cool to sit back, chill, watching the world unfold before our eyes. Without lamenting about some cyclist, during some silly ride.