Debbie wrote about the difficulty of mindfulness. “I’m more inclined to always think about what’s next, what’s tomorrow or the next day.”
Mindfulness (noun): a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Debbie made me think about my own relationship with the present. Am I mindful? I rarely think about the future. I rarely think about later today. A conversation Susan and I have every weekend:
“Do you have anything planned for today?”
“I’d like to go running.”
“I don’t know. Let’s see how the day unfolds.”
Possibly, I just don’t plan. I take my days as they come. And then I get pissed that I never get anything done.
Because I don’t think about the future, I live my life in the present. But not mindfully, reactively instead. Rather than observing the present and rolling with it, the present happens to me and I combat it. I grab it or I push it away. I never just accept it.
This is what I thought about as I read Debbie’s mindfulness post. My aha moment. Eureka! By Jove, I’ve got it! One of those rare instances when I suddenly understand something new about myself.
Mindfulness isn’t about living in the present moment. It’s about being present. Running might be the only time I’m mindful. All runs are good runs. The pleasure, the pain, ease and distress. I always accept what’s happening to me when I run. Of course, easy runs—those times I nail it—are always more enjoyable.
Yesterday, I went out for a run. When I got home from work, my family announced that our dinner plan was Dairy Queen Blizzard Cake. Early in the quarantine, my fitness level peaked. I exercised daily, often twice a day. I felt thin and strong, deserving of the nightly desserts my wife and kids kept baking. Over the past two weeks, I backed off exercise. Work heated up. The weather faltered. I might be a little depressed. Whatever, I haven’t exercised enough to keep up with my eating. Ice cream cake! Yes, I went out for a run.
There was nothing enjoyable about yesterday’s run. Cold and windy. WINDY. At one point I saw a hawk trying to fly across a field. He looked like a runner on a treadmill. Wings flapping furiously, he made no forward progress at all. Eventually, he angled up into the gale, did a barrel roll and floated away downwind, out of sight.
With a mile to go, Susan pulled up in our car. “Sophie and I tried to go for a bike ride. We almost blew off our bikes. I thought you might want to bail.”
“Thanks, but I’m good.” I wasn’t. Miserable was the correct word for it. But also present. I was in the run. I accepted the discomfort. I didn’t fight it. To paraphrase the Buddha (as a runner): “Tailwind, Headwind, no difference.” Each is something to experience… without judgement. When I walked in the house I said “Well, that sucked.” But it didn’t. Hard, but rewarding. I ate two pieces of cake.
After reading Debbie’s post. I know my next step. Allow life to happen to me. Judging the experience, fighting the inevitable, doesn’t make it easier. If I accept, if I simply ‘be,’ at least I’ll feel relaxed. I let Debbie know what a huge revelation her post created. I hope she found some pride in positively changing my perception.