You are — your life, and nothing else-
A little over two years ago I stopped planting myself on the couch and turning the TV on for no good reason. Very seldom do I pay attention to the pathetic, dreadful “news”. I am picky with whom I choose to spend time with. Something happened in my life that I fail to put a finger on, and even now its hard to put into words to share with you. I realized there was a deep-rooted issue with my soul, my true-self. It was as if my soul, was raw, torn, ripped wide open. As if my true-self needed a “special” kind of time. We often think of time as a linear aspect of our lives … 0400 in the morning – Time to rise and eat breakfast , 0900 – Second breakfast, 1200 – Workout over lunch … As the cadence of time marches on, we fall prey to time – Time truly dictates our life.
Bringing balance to body, mind, and spirit has never been more important to me. With this intention, I packed my bags last Tuesday and set off for a long weekend of cyclocross racing in Winnipeg – A beautiful city nestled near the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Winnipeg is an idyllic oasis on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies, the spirit of Winnipeg perfectly aligns with its inspiring surroundings. A city, simply being …
This exhilarating excursion nine hours north of Omaha, NE included boundless adventure at every turn. Between the company of close friend(s), practicing at Public Yoga, an endless amount of delicious food, the support of a large, cheerful crowd, laid back fellow competitors and the great outdoors; only served to deepen my connection to simply being. My weekend transformed into an eye-opening experience that both heartened and challenged me.
Do you recall when you last fell prey to marching in step with time? Maybe it’s when you stopped looking at your iThingy every fifteen seconds, or better yet, when you fully surrender to a state of flow during your morning yoga practice or whilst training for your next big event? A moment in which you stop counting breaths and checking Strava for a little bit as you exercised your creative muscle(s) – that “thing” between your ears.
This is when time stops pedantically chugging along, and being begins. May you take a moment to bathe in the beauty of simply being this morning.
This beautiful “thing” called life presents to us the opportunity to slow down and savor the concept of being. Even when counting the miles away driving from Omaha to Winnipeg (642 … ).
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it-
Our lives are saturated with technology – from email to texting, FaceTube to Insta-Look at me, Linked-Out to streaming media of various flavors online. Living in a digital world, our attention is almost always focused on something outside of our physical body. Either playing a game online with a friend or surfing aimlessly – Always doing something! We treat our own unfocused minds like parents on a cross-country road trip: Turning on the in-vehicle entertainment system and watching “Up” for the millionth time until the little ones pass out.
Are we there yet?!?
My mind needs periods during the day, just like children do at school … Time to run and play, jump from hither and yon, with little care in the world. My mind needs to be able to flow freely from thought to thought, or simply rest in no thought at all. The spaces between tasks, between thoughts, between breaths, between all the objects of my attention—are deeply important to our true selves. When I miss the opportunity to live in these gaps, I become a minion to my mind, and subsequently anxious of any moment when my mind is not occupied – Gotta check my fantasy team and Ebay!!!
A deep and lasting confidence arises when we can enjoy the open spaces in life. Our culture has placed a value on action, information, and entertainment, and we are encouraged to keep the mind busy at all times. If we want to create down time, to make space, we have to actively do so.
It is more Important to be of pure intention than of perfect action-
I spend a fair amount of time ruminating why I’m struggling with my “performance” when others, clearly are not. I tend to think my poor “performance” is karmic retribution (whatever this is) for some bad deed in the past, and this bad deed is the sole reason why I stink, suck – Why I am continuously sore and injured – Why I had a bad race, or whatever we say after stinking up the joint! When I look outward for answers, I view karma through a stained prism, as a spiritual judicial system, where I am forced to suffer based on some bad deed I can’t even remember that happened 24 years ago … Or maybe it was ten minutes … Pardon me as I look it up on my phone.
As loosely defined by yours truly: Karma is about the nature of our intentions, our intention(s) in this beautiful, inspiring moment. To explore a tad deeper, think of our actions as having two distinct attributes. Let’s use riding a bike as an example: Pure Behavior and our Intention behind said behavior. What matters to forming our true-self is not the “pure behavior” that makes up our action but our intention in engaging in that action. It pays to remember, as the Buddha said: Intention is Karma.
Consider for a moment taking your bike out for a spin early one brisk, Fall morning. Our “pure behavior” equals throwing a leg over the top tube and smiling, not necessarily in that order. However, the intention behind this action could be to simply surrender to the moment, being compassionate and generous to those we encounter during our travels – or – It could be to show ill-will toward others on the trail, cruelty to your body for training too hard, or being greedy … Chasing down another podium finish.
Some Dude (Buddha) once said many moons ago, “Intending, one does karma” … My intention Dear Reader(s) Is to return to my true self: To show more compassion, to be generous and most importantly (to me): To be kind.
With enough courage, you can do without a reputation-
Does it seem as though we are constantly defining who we are by our actions? Why is it difficult telling, or explaining who we really are?
Being distracted, busy and stressed is a choice I often make without a second thought. No one is forcing me to take on all of these responsibilities and activities in my life. Sometimes it seems that being stressed out and busy is a symbol of status in our society. Raise your hand if you have uttered the following phrase(s): “I’m a _____” or “Look at all of these “things” I do.”
I’m a yoga instructor, pilates teacher, and coach. I’m an avid cyclist, a quasi racer and competitive. I’m an engineer of some sort … I …
Whatever happened to just being? I believe our identities have been so wrapped up in what we do that we have forgotten what it is like to just be.
I need to pause now and – be, me.
The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are-
Does our reflection in a mirror define who we really are? What about the mirror at work, in the car, the one that magically adds twenty pounds at the department store? Becoming uncomfortable in some way or another with our own behavior, as our thoughts and emotions gradually take over. This discomfort, what we feel out in public, maybe … Is another other aspect of who we really are, perhaps this is even our authentic self?!?
How do we know which reflection is real? Thoughts and feelings that originate from the authentic self, while uncomfortable at times, also bring us peace when we pause to listen, and accommodate the wishes of this kind and gentle voice.
As someone who has felt guilty about my appearance in one way or another throughout life, I begin to feel deep resentment even as I’m feeling guilty. I find myself uncomfortable with this resentment because it isn’t “kind” nor is it any “good” … This identity I’m striving for. Although, if I begin to see that the resentment is actually telling me that I’m doing “things” out of guilt and a false sense of responsibility, that I don’t quite have the compassion to accommodate, or even the desire … I might even allow it to help me choose to stop obeying the guilt as if it were the only right thing to do.
After a few moments, a deep breath or two – Peace, and this Peace is all the evidence I need of my true authentic self.
At what point do we stop asking what is right in our lives, and start asking what is real?
If you’ve got nothing to dance about, find a reason to sing-
There are an infinite amount of wellness, exercise, health, fitness, yoga and “whatever” blogs, websites and apps that offer endless advice opportunities to improve ourselves, although until we learn how to love our true selves, and nurture these fragile new shoots? It’s unlikely we’ll find the love we seek. When we approach our search for self-love as an intimate journey, and not as a Strava race against time, a punishing series of new workouts or some extreme mud run, everything changes.
In the last five years of seeking a relationship with myself (you read that correctly – some dude learning to love himself … Not a cool thing to admit now isn’t it?), I have spent an incalculable amount of hours looking for love in places that lacked love: Battering my body early every morning in the gym and trail running until exhaustion before bed, using “extreme” and “trendy” training methods I read about online that had little to do with self-love. Concealing all traces of my unseemly need to be someone who I was not … I was endlessly engrossed seeking to be the best. However, as it turns out, this path led me a life of pain and ruin.
As much as we are led to believe that finding self-love and accepting who we really are is all about maxing out each and every rep, improving our appearance in yoga class, or beating every goddamn person in this marathon … It’s ultimately our inner spirit that lets us find and keep real, lasting love. When we learn to bring our inner spirit into the ways we search for self-love? This is when the real changes begin to happen in our lives.
Through exploring and finding our own deeper insights, we transform and deepen our search for self-love … I have finally come to believe that these moments of self-reflection move us more quickly to finding self-love than anything else we will read about today.
Thank you Claudia for the recent award and for inspiring me to finally publish this post.