Sunday, April 26, 2016, I will be in my first Duathlon. I am signed-up for the short distance: 2 mile run + 11.2 mile bike + 2 mile run (the ‘long’ is 2 / 22.4 / 4).
Yesterday I did a ‘brick’ .. which is a back2back combination. For the duathlon that is either a run + bike, or a bike + run (or I could do all three). Tuesday I did a bike + run brick and fell off the bike (my second fall). I took a day off, and was back on the bike yesterday. I did not fall .. but had a melt down.
It really hurts to fall. Not so much the impact, but the scraped knee. In that I haven’t scraped my knee since I was a kid, I’ve thought back on those days, trying to recall the pain. It’s a fact that “Strong memories often have an emotional impact that can be more pervasive, even causing physical symptoms, especially when it comes to traumatic events“, but the fall on Tuesday had me in tears.
This makes me think there is more than the fall going on.
Living in the Next 50 gives me perspective. I can think back over all the events in my life, all the circumstances, to get a bigger picture of any given experience. In this case: I tend to be overly anxious when doing something for the first-time.
Simply put: I get tight, tentative and tense due to expectation. Which is why, last night, I sat down to meditate – to get back to real. And that usually brings me to one of two places: Thoreau or the Gita (sometimes both).
In this case I was reminded of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically, 2:62-63:
When one thinks of the objects, attachment for them arises;
and from attachment, desire is born.
Then, from desire, anger arises.
But one with self-control,
moving among the objects with the senses under restraint
and free from attraction and repulsion, attains peace.
I live in my mind (as we all do) .. with the thoughts and emotions that run around there. When running or weightlifting – when alone with my thoughts – deeply rooted behavioral patterns may emerge. And that’s a good-thing, because there is only one certainty in my life, and that’s who-I-am.
You see, quiet-time, meditation, reflection, whatever you tend to call it, is not meant to bring relief from the inner turmoil you may experience, but to stir it up so that it rises to the surface. So right now, get that notion out of your head. Ditto with Yoga. Its purpose is not to dissipate anxiety, but to hunt it down, pick it apart, and eventually get rid of it.
So there you have it: Any physical and mental activity – be it running, biking, yoga, swimming, or some other – that finds you with only ‘me, myself and I’, is there to bring you closer to reality (either inside or outside of personal awareness). This means, if anger or grief, failure or success, fear or courage is ‘there’, then it’s going to come up in spades. And in this case, yoga is simply a tool to be aware of these conditions – these subconscious layers – and slowly get rid of them.
Even with loving family and supportive friends, it’s always just you. Love who you are!
When you’re running a 5 or 10k, or biking 10+ miles, or digging in your garden, or preparing a meal, you have penetrated your psychological armor. And though you may try to escape or deny what is going on with all those thoughts and feelings, if you don’t methodically analyze and remove the obstacles, the attachments and expectations, they will continue to rise and cause you to stumble and even fall / fail.
No one likes to admit that they run from their fears, but they do. I know I do.
None of us are innately mean or unworthy, a looser or a winner, those are simply strengths or weaknesses that we have acquired over the years. They have become ways in which we deal with life and living. And ‘yes’, looking into these matters, does remove you from your ‘comfort zone’.
So, there I was, laying on the ground, with that pedal still attached to my bike shoe, fully aware that I had fallen, for the second time, just 30 hours before, and the fear washed over me and flowed out of my eyes. I was tense, crying, and defensive .. all at the same time.
And that is a terrible place to be, because for me, in that moment, it physically hurt. First, the lingering injury; then the irritation of not being in control, so that I could literally feel the body’s cortisol levels flood my system.
Yoga Philosophy teaches about Arishadvarga, or the ‘Six Enemies’. They are: desire (kama), anger (krodha), greed (lobh), attachment (moha), pride (ahankar), and jealousy (matsarya). These ‘passions’ tend to equally fluctuate daily, or sometimes, just one or two dominate. In any event, when you live life to its fullest – the Six Enemies get triggered. Ha! .. so they are something of a Catch 22!
So there I was, living life to the fullest, in training for the Ohio Duathlon – a new event, a new challenge in my life – with the man I love (no pressure there) – who is an accomplished Athlete and Duathlete – and every fiber of my being is gripped with fear of falling, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of insert-unnamed-fear-here.
Which is why, last night, I sat quietly on the floor, meditating. Not attempting to dissipate those troublesome emotions, but to just sit with them. After all, we do share space – the space of the body and mind. Yes, even though I don’t like to admit it, I am carrying negative emotions about myself. So, when they arise – because things are not going the way I expect them to, the way I want them to – then I need to step-back, to stop what I am doing, and simply recognize that this moment is the best moment to explore those sensations, those ‘waves’ that wash over me.
So my prayer last night, and continuing today, is:
I will keep my head above water by floating ..
by being gentle with myself,
and those around me that I deeply care for.
I will relax, breath in deeply, exhale completely,
close my eyes, allow the waves to pass over and through me;
and when they have passed, I will turn and watch them fade,
so that I alone remain – stronger and more resilient than before.