Over the last 6 weeks I’ve asked you try several new habits and lifestyle choices. Some are more challenging than others and at this point, you may feel some uncertainty at being so “deep in the wilderness.”
The midpoint of a journey is often when resistance, fear and hesitation arise. These are natural feelings and simply part of the path.
Before we go any further this week you’re going to take stock of where you’re at and what areas need more attention. Let’s recap the habits you’re working on and use this week to re-focus our intention and attention.
You’ve covered a lot of ground over the last 6 weeks. It’s a good time to take a step back to appreciate where you are on this journey. What does the word “appreciate” mean? On the surface it means to be thankful, grateful, to value and so on.
There’s another definition of the word that’s used in the financial sector. When shares of stocks increase in value they’re said to “appreciate.” So to appreciate something is to increase its value.
One creative ability we seldom wield to it’s full potential is:
Whatever we give our full unconditional attention to increases effortlessly.
Try this easy experiment to hone your ability to appreciate: Give meals your full attention.
Close your computer, turn off the television, and put away your phone. Be human, exist entirely in the moment. Survey your plate. Smell your food before digging in. Put your fork down between bites and chew your food for a while to fully appreciate all the flavors and complexities of the food before swallowing. Close your eyes to heighten your sense of smell and taste, and don’t be in such a hurry.
The purpose of eating isn’t to finish as fast as possible. It’s to enjoy the experience of nourishing yourself and connecting with the life-giving organism that gave its life for your benefit.
It’s also important to connect with the people you’re sharing the meal with! Our ancestors from all parts of the world, every race and spiritual tradition had important mealtime rituals with the purpose of showing their appreciation (both definitions.)
The same experiment can be done with your movement training. Rather than simply getting through the workout and “checking the box” appreciate the opportunity movement training gives you to be present in your body. Feel your way through movement.
How does a squat or kettlebell swing really feel when you focus your attention rather than zoning away from it? Is your core taut, stabilizing your spine? Do you feel a stretch in your groin or hips at a certain point in the bottom of the movement? Which muscle fibers can you feel working and can you activate more of them? Do your feet feel rooted into the ground evenly? Are you pressing the balls of your feet into the floor or are you rolling out to the outside edges of your feet?
Obviously, you can bring this kind of meditative attention to any kind of movement, even just walking from your work desk to the bathroom. The more you give your full attention to the present action, the more sensitive and alive in your body you become.
Imagine a movement session in which you felt everything! Your neuro-muscular system would light up exponentially more muscle fibers as opposed to a workout you’re doing to avoid feeling authentically in the present.
I believe that means you’ll get exponentially more benefit from the same amount of work and improve your movement ability in a shorter period of time.
I don’t subscribe to the notion that practice makes perfect. I believe present practice makes perfect, although I wouldn’t get wound up in trying to be “perfect.”
“So what am I doing this week?”
Continue the habits and routines you’ve been doing up to this point, but increase your awareness of feeling and appreciation of your experience.
· How do you feel physically, mentally and emotionally right now?
· What has it felt like to eliminate habits and foods and to change up your routines?
· How does it feel when you move consistently, maintain your body properly, nourish yourself and get rest versus when you deviate?
The one new habit I suggest you implement this week is to say, “Thank” and “You” as your first and then second foot hit the floor when you get out of bed in the morning.
It’s a way to start your day! With a sense of gratitude and appreciation for your awareness of the richness and vibrancy of the present moment, even if it’s uncomfortable.
It’s a far better way to start your day then with a mindset of: ”Ah shit, not this again.” I vividly remember a time when I woke up like that every morning dreading the day ahead because I was lost, hated my job and where I lived. My toughest days now are better than most of my best days back then, so I make an effort to say my thanks for that.
This week examines the questions:
· Why do we train?
· What is the purpose of having a healthy body and mind?
Me? I feel it’s so we can truly be present, to enjoy and appreciate the gift of life.
What about you?
What did your introspection reveal to you?