I could sugar coat this whole situation that we are all in, but plain and simple: this sucks. We all are in the same boat...or different boats, same situation. If we were in the same boat, that wouldn't be social distancing and we'd have a bigger problem at hand. This is a hard situation for everyone everywhere.
It is easy to allow ourselves to feel bad about all this and not want to do anything but see how many flour and sugar concoctions we create. The idea of working out can feel daunting or limiting because your normal habits have been disrupted. However, it is important to understand that we humans have amazing capabilities to adapt to situations.
We adapt seasonally to being active in the rain, snow, sleet and sun. We adapt daily to work situations and home situations. We adapt to eating different foods. We adapt to being placed into different environments. We are capable of adapting to a global lockdown/quarantine. It is easy to make excuses and easy to be lazy. There are days I don't want to get out of bed or push to get those steps in. Depends on where you are in the world and what your housing situation is can affect how you get them in.
But in the end we all have a choice to make an effort to stay active.
I have always thought the world would be a better place if everyone ran marathons. (Let’s keep in mind, this isn’t even my favorite distance.) If you took a moment to put this into perspective; 45,000+ people (the Runners) gather together from all walks of life, different jobs, different countries, different religions and political beliefs, shapes and sizes, you name it – DIFFERENT. There is an additional 1 million people (the Supporters) who stand along the sidelines as Runners make their way through this 26.2 mile journey to cheer them on, who are also just as different as the next.
For this day it doesn’t matter how different you are, or what your beliefs are; You all move together toward One Goal. It might be everyone has a different pace or for a different reason, but that doesn’t matter; You all are moving together to accomplish One Goal, the Same Goal, to Finish the Marathon. Side by side through sweat, spit, bloody nipples and tears; if you see a fellow Runner start to falter – you push them along. You encourage them to continue. If that isn’t enough, the Supporters are there to keep pushing you on through every step – as they yell your name, tell you your beautiful, and remind you of why you are doing this in the first place. You don’t know any of these people – so why would they do it?
Let’s talk about the Supporters for a minute; they sit in the rain, the dead heat, or freezing cold to cheer these Runners on and they want nothing out of it. Sitting for hours, running all over the city moving point to point to catch a glimpse of the moving herd and continue to cheer and ring their cowbells and give out hi-fives – they will do anything it takes to help keep the Runners moving toward their goal. When a Runner is down – the Supporters come to the rescue. It is quite amazing when you think about it.
It doesn't matter where in the world you go; The Runners and Supporters are the same. From Mexico to South Africa, France, Alabama, California…the list goes on and on.
I find it exhilarating to see this type of unity from so many people who know nothing about each other and during those hours of that day, it doesn't matter. But I also find it sad as to why I don’t see that type of behavior carry into every day life. Why someone cannot help an older person get onto the bus or give up their seat on the train. Or why when someone it hurt, they cannot simply stop to ask if they need anything. I don’t understand.
Marathon Running might be looked upon as a brother-sisterhood of crazy people who try to convince themselves running 26.2 miles is fun, and yes maybe that part of it. But I think if people became aware of the impact they have on one another throughout their race, Runners and Supporter alike, and took that same type of attitude into their everyday life; the world would be a better place.
I have always been one to keep fairly quiet on what I do to maintain my health and fitness beyond my cardio and strength workouts. I am sure if it wasn't my job, I wouldn't even be sharing that with everyone.
As outgoing as I am with my work, in real life I am quite the introvert. Often I find myself being schooled by people on topics which they believe I know nothing about, when in fact they are things which I have practiced or studied for years. However, it doesn't bother me. I enjoy hearing what others have to say about things which interest us both. Although I often pretend I am as blissfully ignorant about the topic as they think I am. Mostly because I feel I don't have to prove what I know about the subject. But also because I have become too exhausted by constantly being schooled on what Diwali or Holi is and all the thousands of cultural nuances I have lived with for the past decade that people seem to think I don't know or have experienced. I find it best to just be quiet and go into a heavily meditated state of mind.
I remember not long after I moved to India people started to tell me how I needed to meditate. They would constantly try to explain to me what it was and how to do it. It always seemed to me they were just trying to prove or convince something to oneself more than anything. Meditation was not new to me at all. This word and concept has been with me since my childhood.
As a kid, Friday afternoons I would ride the bus to my great-grandmother's house and spend time with her. Often she would be finishing up her daily devotions and then meditate on them. This was my first exposure to meditation as I remember. When I started competing in sports during my teens I was quickly taught the benefits of meditation before a race or diving meet. Every night I would do visual meditations of each and every dive on my list perfectly over and over again. My early twenties I spent many weekends in sweat lodges which sacred ritual involves prayer, meditation and purification. Meditation has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember.
Sixteen years ago I walked into the Dai Bosatsu Zen Monastery and took a month long kessei training. I have spent years practicing zazen thereafter. From there I have allowed meditation to be as normal and natural in my life as brushing my teeth every day. I suppose that is why I never really talk about it. I have never felt the need to tell every one I wash my hands and brush my teeth. I don't need to prove to anyone I am clean. I have never needed to let the world know I meditate. But it has been a part of my life and daily practice for decades.
Like we all have our normal daily habits we have picked up over the years, I wake up, meditate, coffee....and so on. Meditate again during the day when I need and again in the evenings. I look forward to it more than I do turning on a show. TV makes me feel lonely. In fact, I am someone who feels lonely most of the time and it saddens me greatly, but meditation is the one thing which makes me good. It makes me feel whole.
So when I began hearing people talk more and more about starting to meditate recently, it actually made me think, 'do people not find this normal or natural to do in their every day life?'
I know we all are having our own difficulties during this time of lockdown. There are moms who are separated from their children. Doctors who don't get to see their families and kids who are stuck at universities. Even for me, I am stuck thousands of miles from home and I struggle every day with not knowing when I get to go back. It is easy to have bad days, to feel sad, stressed and upset. It's okay to have those days. But coming from someone who has practiced meditation her whole life, I can attest this is the best tool I have that is helping me get through these tough times.
Meditation is something which is very spiritual for me. It goes beyond the mind and lies deep within the soul. Perhaps that is why I don't talk about it much. I always left the spiritual soul stuff to everyone's own devices. This is why I have been hesitant for years to write about or share my meditation experiences with others.
Years ago, long after I had done my Reiki II, I was doing a shiatsu session on a woman who stopped me in the middle of our session and told me to do my Master Level. She was a Reiki Master herself and I had not shared my Reiki experience with her, she just knew. Yes, most don't know I am a Reiki Master. Nor will you know I am a certified meditation teacher as well. My point: I have always felt the tools one acquires in life will come to light to use when the time is right.
For me to be writing about this, I guess the time must be the right. This sparked in me yesterday when my sister and I were talking about her not having motivation. I found myself discussing meditation with her and how a mantra meditation can help rewire the brain for changing behaviour patterns (aka - create new habits). She helped me bring to light how many people are really struggling with creating new habits during this time, which made me think.
So before I carry on too long, (and let's face it, people rarely have the attention span to read beyond one paragraph) I thought I would share with you my personal history on meditation before I started writing more about it. I am not one to just hop on this month's mainstream train to gain popularity.
I decided I will start sharing some meditations with you which can help deal with these stressful times. Hopefully it can help you feel more at ease. I hope you look forward to it. Until then, be well and keep your head on straight.