Sometimes I sit alone under the stars and think of the galaxies inside my heart and truly wonder if anyone will ever want to make sense of all that I am-
Tis the season for “thankfulness” posts, acts of appreciation and a warm glowing sensation of gratitude wafting in the chilly air outside. As if some magical switch is naturally flipped, our thoughts turn towards being grateful this Thanksgiving week. I have found myself thinking more about what loving kindness means, and how it relates to being “thankful” after a series of rather unusual events for me personally the past two weeks.
I’m lonely and saddened here in Cambridge, by the idea, that we change how we feel, in order to fit a superficial idea of what kindness and thankfulness should be during this time of the year. Kindness to me, is a light that shines from the inside, every day. Loving kindness is the warmth we share with others in a cold yoga studio or stopping to offer your only spare tube to another rider walking home in the pouring rain (thanks mate!). Kindness can also be the simple act of touching someone’s shoulder, gently reminding them they left their umbrella on the bus seat while traveling home. Kindness resides in our heart(s). Kindness, is living with a deep sense of gratitude, giving sincere “thanks.”
What if this Thanksgiving we pause to give thanks for the compassion and kindness that surrounds us?
When I’m able to do this? The loneliness that grips me will subside, and my true spirit will glow.
It really has been too long since my last “real” post hasn’t it?!? What could Rapha, Camyoga, cyclocross racing, buddhism and minimalism have anything to do with your humble blog-o-thing? I suppose starting next week we will find out together, until then? Take care and have a wonderful weekend!
Winter winds cold and blea
Chilly blows o’er the lea:
Wander not out to me,
Jenny so fair,
Wait in thy cottage free.
I will be there.
Wait in thy cushioned chair
Wi’ thy white bosom bare.
Kisses are sweetest there:
Leave it for me.
Free from the chilly air
I will meet thee.
How sweet can courting prove,
How can I kiss my love
Muffled in hat and glove
From the chill air?
Quaking beneath the grove,
What love is there!
Lay by thy woollen vest,
Drape no cloak o’er thy breast:
Where my hand oft hath pressed,
Pin nothing there:
Where my head droops to rest,
Leave its bed bare.
I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy”-
Saunter into your local yoga studio and undoubtedly you will inundated with talk about – Mindfulness.
Why is this so? Primarily due to the images of relaxation, stillness, or acting in some idealistic way that mindfulness provides us in this atmosphere. Most yogi’s and mindfulness “practitioners” operate under the assumption that mindfulness, means continually being calm, serene and in control of your surrounding, even as the lady next to you in class rolls out her mat inches away from your perfectly oriented to the East sacred space. It’s because of this, that a mindfulness practice often feels as though we are failing in life, it erodes our personal sense of self-worth. Breaking News – Life is hard enough without aiming to be mindful and perfect all the damn time. Mindfulness, to me, is not a quest for perfection.
My mindfulness practice revolves around a well-known and often forgotten aspect about “life” – Life itself is deeply unpredictable. To translate the last statement into laymen terms – Life sucks most of the time, imperfection is the norm, and perfectionism will only lead you down a dark path. It’s how we live with and balance these hardships, that influences our moment-to-moment, mindful well-being. Even while practicing mindfulness, I can’t for the life of me, pay attention for an extended period of time. You know what most easily distracts me? It’s not the blonde hair or being a dude, or some new person in class … Its my own mind. I’m continually lost in my thoughts yet again, even right now. Yet, I bring myself back to the moment, even while dropping a screw fixing my bike or forgetting someones name I just met.
Many yogis’ or whatever, shroud themselves in the serious of a mindfulness practice, what’s lost is our collective sense of humor. Our minds often do what they want without us, if you can, look around during class and notice the stern faces and the concentration poured into being “mindful.” I often find myself spending an awful lot of effort aiming for something not fully attainable during class, during life. Mindfulness and a healthy dose of perfectionism only serve to make me feel worse about myself. The secret ingredient that is missing? A heartfelt smile and a sense of humility.
Shit happens in life, I make a mess of things a dozen or more times during the day. Mindfulness allows me to find comfort and humility in the midst of a crazy life. There’s no perfect mindfulness practice – Just you. I’m flawed and so is everyone else, but when you aim for improvement, instead of perfection? Everyone smiles.
If you choose to be fearless, then be fearlessly authentic not an imitation of someone you envy-
Walking into my final yoga class yesterday, a thought crossed my mind – That we live in a world where competition is valued above all else, and that personal achievement is directly tied to self-worth, in essence we have fallen prey to the belief that in every competition, every yoga class, every red light, text message battle … There are two possibilities – Better and Best.
When I was a young lad, maybe six, I arrived home from school one fall afternoon and innocently looked into my fathers eyes and asked if I was “the best?!?” The week prior at school, we had been learning about comparative words like “better” and “best,” and I was innocently curious if I was “the best” at something, perhaps burping, armpit farts or cleaning my room? My kind father calmly replied, “You’ll never be the best at anything son. The world is a magical place with like millions upon millions of people; it’s impossible to be the best. Just do your best, and you’ll be fine in life.
Focusing on continual self-improvement, rather than being the best at “something”, has allowed me to have a more realistic and insightful look into my true self.
One of the main reasons that we lose our enthusiasm in life is because we become ungrateful. We let what was once a miracle become common to us. We get so accustomed to his goodness it becomes a routine-
What is your routine when you prepare for yoga class (or anything really)? Hit the alarm clock and jump out of bed on one foot, whist telling the world you are awake on Insta-Whatever? Whack the snooze button a dozen times or so? Waking, peacefully, to me, is the most important part of the day. Sadly, I have forgotten to honor this time, choosing instead to “practice” in an antiseptic studio that feels anything but right, for me.
I used to take several minutes to notice my breath arriving gently in the morning. Savoring a few, rhythmic deep breaths as my body awakens. My sense of smell, my eyes adjusting to the morning light, the sensation of my body walking slowly across the cold wooden floor in our kitchen, and the morning sounds of the world waking alongside me, as I slide open the patio door … Now I find myself searching where I last placed the car keys, and rushing to class.
This is my story, as to why I decided not to practice in a local yoga studio, anymore. My routine has replaced – Mindfulness, and I am not comfortable with this.
Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change-
The first step on this “journey” of mine, was simply getting to know myself once again.
Before I competed in my first Gravel Worlds, I focused on “building strength” and training for the rigors of a 150+ miles gravel ride. A little over three years ago, I was struggling post surgery to get back into my cycling groove, needless to say I felt rather unprepared and woefully out-of-place. The week leading up to the chilly predawn start just outside Lincoln, Nebraska, I tried to imagine all the possible situations and challenges I could, and would encounter, and the associated mindset(s) I needed to adapt to them. I did not realize during the moment, that in doing so, I inadvertently found myself focusing on my true inner weaknesses – on the things that I need to improve, and on the behaviors that have eluded me for so long, that I pushed aside to compete, that did not come naturally to me … Anymore. Shortly after an early August rain shower, and two punctures, I quickly realized that I can allow myself to feel confident about my ability to deal with what the road had in store for me, for my life. Albeit not the strengths the stereotypical Lycra clad/carbon fiber cyclist, a little smile here and there, and a deeply rooted sense of humor kept two wheels up and spinning along into the evening.
Quiet simply, being yourself, being authentic – Is pretty inspiring!