This is how I ran today lol!
Another version could be, "Run like the Boogey Man is after you."
This is how I ran today lol!
Another version could be, "Run like the Boogey Man is after you."
If every time we see a hill and think, "Oh gawd, that looks like too much work, too hard, I'm not gonna go up there," we'd never get anywhere, literally. We'd stay stuck in our same neighborhood, same block, our comfort zone. At the top of the hill and beyond the horizon is our future: loves, career, friends, and adventures. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to climb hills more because I'm curious to see what's up there.
Today is the last day of my 10-day walking meditation challenge. The picture is a hill in my neighborhood that I go up and down every time I run or walk. I intended to walk today so that I could say I walked at least two days during this challenge, and I did start off walking. I walked .70 miles and then decided to just run one mile and then walk the rest of my planned 5K (3.11mile) walk. Well, that one mile turned into four miles of running. I did walk the last .5 miles so in total I walked 1.2 miles which is the second longest walk during this challenge. Yay! I was able to stop running and walk for awhile.
I know exactly why I can't stop running now, and even though I am conscious of the reason, I am still running. I'm just consciously running where before I was asleep running. I now have the work of breaking my current association with running and learn a new association. In the “Four Stages of Learning," I'm at stage two where I recognize my deficit and can see the value of learning a new skill, but I'm stumbling. It's like when you have taken off the training wheels and start riding a bike yet keep falling down because you don't know how to balance yet, or you start yoga, and you can't stay steady in a pose and fall down. Stage 2 encompasses much falling down literally and figuratively.
But we keep at it and move onto Stage 3 and then 4 where we become masters of a skill and can do things without even thinking about it. For example, I can write a blog post in my sleep and even drunk off my ass where six years ago it took me 4 hours to write 300 words steady and wide awake.
I stepped on the scale today and I gained back two of the three pounds that I lost in the last two days. I was surprised that I gained two pounds overnight which means that I ate something that caused inflammation in my body. I went through everything I ate the day before. I bought some new rice crackers and didn't check the label like I normally do for some odd reason because I tend to be retentive about reading food labels. Guess I fell into unconsciousness while shopping. These crackers had two food additives that are often used with MSG, and my body goes into mutiny whenever I eat MSG, so I found my culprit.
This time when I saw the weight gain, I did something different. Instead of acquiescing to the fear, "OMG, I gained weight." I replied back to the fat fear by saying, "And so what. It's two pounds. And what if I gain weight and get fat again. So what. What's the worst that will happen?"
Mental hell broke loose.
Chatter whirled up in my head outcrying about how getting fat would be awful, disastrous, embarrassing, humiliating, depressing, and on and on whatever my mind could rationale. This time I was able to sit back and be a spectator to the chatter. Instead of being in the story, I was watching the story, and wow, what a big difference! All the negative self-talk wasn't affecting me at all.
I could separate myself and see the chatter for what it was...endless chatter.
Fear is not who we are. Love is who we are. Our fears are learned which means we can unlearn them, and go back to our natural state which is love. This is what becoming conscious, mindful, is really about. I am now fully understanding, grasping, this concept. I've known it logically for awhile but it's never really emotionally sunk in. I think now we haz it.
I could separate because I know the chatter, the fears, are not true. This was a BIG deal to be able to find myself in this place. Just like wearing the skinny jeans again doesn't mean happily ever after, getting fat again doesn't spell disaster. It's just weight. I'm the one who attaches emotional meaning to the weight whether I gain or lose pounds.
What I learned in this walking meditation challenge
It felt good to stand up to my fears with my weight and see the chatter for what it really is, distraction. I felt proud of myself that I didn't get sucked into the illusions of my fears even if it was only for a moment this morning. I'm breaking the old habit. Everything is not fixed in one moment like in the movies, but yay, it's a start, a breakthrough!
That's one of the biggest points of meditation, to help us see that the fears are just distractions, smoke screens from the truth which is that we are beautiful. We have everything we have always wanted inside of us: love, acceptance, acknowledgment, belonging. We have just not seen any of that because we got sucked into the fears. We believed an illusion instead of reality.
I didn't succeed at the walking meditation in the actual walking part, but that is okay, I can keep practicing. Remember, the messy middle is where success is born. I got something deeper from this walking meditation challenge. I got to bring to the surface some significant unhealed hurts and fears, so that I can now work on healing them.
I learned that I actually like running in silence with no music where previous I thought I could never run without tunes. I blogged for ten days in a row which I have not done in a couple years, so I got to refresh my writing skills, and connect to my audience in ways I used to. I got a few emails and messages from people saying how they enjoyed seeing the old blogging Steph back.
10-days may seem like a short time, but during this fitness challenge, time felt MUCH longer, sometimes distressing especially during the two emotional mudslides and sometimes grateful because I gained so much in a short time. Honestly, I am joyful I did this challenge, but oh yeah, I'm so glad it is over lol!
Overall feeling: Grateful :)
Today was another day of running meditation. Even though I totally get why I can't stop running, I still felt compelled to run today. Awareness is one thing. Practice is another. I'm not there yet. There was only 2 minutes of walking, and I ran 5.83 miles still with no music. I'm starting to like running in silence actually. After my run, I made this gorgeous salad for lunch, and felt awesome!
I wasn't going to step on the scale at all during this 10-day meditation, but at day 7, I started feeling heavy so I changed plans and weighed myself. I gained 5 pounds in 7 days even though I ran 24.5 miles in those 7 days which is on par with what I was running weekly before this walking meditation challenge.
My newly recognized deep fear of getting fat again as I talked about yesterday started manifesting itself during this walking meditation challenge.
My initial reaction to seeing the 5 pound gain was actually calm. I left the bathroom then sat on my bed, a bit in a haze at first, but then I got focused.
Pangs of panic and anxiety over gaining weight started to flare like they used to in the old days, but the feelings were mute rather than acute. Being in the now, very calmly, I decided I was going to run not walk, and I ended up going 6.5 miles. So much emotionally has happened this week that I couldn't take any more by starting an internal fight with myself, so I did not think, I just did what I knew would make me feel better in that moment and that was to run.
Five even three years ago, repeating this weight gain scenario, my reaction would have been quite different. Instead of calm, my initial reaction would be distress, and a mild emotional frenzy would ensue. Ten years ago, forget it, I'd be in full-on panic mode...yes, over five pounds. That's how far I've come in my healing work.
Gaining 5 pounds slowly over time like a few weeks is not a big deal, but gaining 5 pounds in 7 days when I was still exercising is a concern. Eye-opening to me is how powerful a manifester I am. The fear of getting fat again reared its head garnering my energy and focus, and voila, without consciously realizing it, I started manifesting my fear. It makes you wonder how much we manifest in our lives unconsciously.
So, what happened?
My first instinct was to ask, what changed? Well, the walking meditation challenge turned out to be a BIG change, in fact, a change that I completely underestimated. Naively, I thought this walking meditation would be calming and soothing. In actuality, the opposite happened and it's been an emotionally stressful week incorporating two emotional mudslide days where I resorted to my old habit of self-medicating with sweet foods late at night.
I made two batches of vegan chocolate chips walnut cookies this week, and ate over a dozen cookies in those 7 days. The cookies were just the beginning. I completely blew my 80/20 Eating standard, and ate 20% foods every single day this week. I'm not going to lie. During my run today, I realized that when I made an effort to be mindful and more present in my exercise, I became less mindful and more unconscious in my eating. To cope with the emotional overload this week, I ate to comfort (not mindful) versus eating to nourish (mindful.)
I also ate an unusual amount of wheat this week. Normally, I am gluten-little, but I ate something with gluten in it every single day like pizza, sandwiches, potstickers, cookies, muffins, and cereal. I'm also normally soy-litte because soy can affect my metabolism, but this week, I ate a whole block of tofu.
And in full disclosure, there were a few times where I ate foods that have dairy and egg in them, my allergen foods. For example, on one of the emotional mudslide days, I was at Whole Foods in one of those unconscious states consumed with wanting to feel comfort badly. I desperately craved a slice of regular pizza, so I disregarded my food allergies and got a slice.
I figured the pleasure of the pizza with gooey mozzarella was worth the inflammation and sickness I'd experience moments after eating the pizza. I'm not saying what I did was right, but that's what my thought process becomes when I get consumed in these comfort-food binges. I know I'm not alone in this.
Healthy doesn't mean perfect
There are days when I digress. Sometimes, I will full-on fall off the food and healthy habits wagon. These days happen when I get emotionally and spiritually challenged. I'm much more wiser in my choices, and better at handling the emotional challenges without resorting to comfort eating, but not always.
This is why sometimes, okay actually well honestly a lot, I have issues with being portrayed as a healthy living role model. I have a deep passion to help other people live healthier lives, and I am very conscious about walking my talk but by no means am I a pinnacle, ideal of health.
This walking meditation has also brought issues for me around my public persona, my personal brand, as I build my new startup. I don't want to be put up on some health pedestal. I start feeling too much pressure to always be "healthy." I start feeling like I'm not allowed to be flawed and screw up like everyone else because there is an expectation for role models to be, well, perfect.
There, I said it, publicly.
And yes, I put extra pressure on myself, and yes, I raise the bar of standards because I like to evolve. I like to learn. I'm curious, and I like to grow. In 6 years of blogging, I've never been afraid of sharing my "messy middle" that human part between the before and after success story. I think it's important to share because this is one way we can shine light on the dark and lighten the stigma, shame, and aloneness of certain health issues.
The healing journey is not a clean, straight bee-line to success and happily ever after.
I gained 5 pounds in 7 days because I went unconscious with my food. In the last two days, I woke up and got back to 80% eating. I also have eaten no gluten or soy in these two days, and guess what, 3 pounds fell off.
As fast as the weight came on, the pounds can come off because knowing my body as well as I do, I figured the quick weight gain was due to allergen inflammation. When my body gets inflammed, weight comes on real fast. There are times when I can put on 3 pounds overnight because of an allergen reaction. Running also helps burn and flush out the extra weight.
There is one day left in the walking meditation challenge, and to be honest, I'll be glad when it's over.
Overall feeling: Glad I'm learning more about myself, but now kinda emotionally exhausted.
During yesterday's jogging meditation, something big and painful surfaced. And damn, it was fricking hard to come to grips with. In the Dhamma Brothers movie, one of the inmates said that doing the 10-day Vipasasna meditation program was harder than anything he's endured in maximum security prison.
I haven't been to prison, but yeah, this stuff is hard! It's not physically hard, but emotionally hard because in meditation as you get present and start living in the now, wow! all kinds of stuff deep down starts to surface. I can say for myself, stuff is coming up that I thought I had entirely dealt with, but apparently have not.
I've been kinda upset with myself that since I started this walking meditation challenge that I haven't been able to walk one day since the first day. Earlier in the challenge, I started becoming conscious that I may be using running more as an avoidance mechanism versus for health and fitness. The lines are blurry.
"Why can't I just walk?" I've been asking myself that question for the last four days. There's been no answer until yesterday.
A truth comes out
I've run 6 days in a row, and on Sunday I thought for sure I could walk because it's normally my rest day from running but no. I started jogging, and I asked myself again, "Why can't I just walk?"
I was silent, and waited to see what would come to me.
More silence except the rhythmic sound of my feet hitting the pavement as I jogged.
"I'm afraid of getting fat. I can't walk because I'm afraid of getting fat," said the inner voice calmly.
WTF! I stopped in my tracks...and then I started crying. I didn't like hated what I was feeling so I started running again. See avoidance. I couldn't be with my pain over this revelation. I felt compelled to keep running as if I could run away from this truth.
A cornucopia of mighty feelings ran through me as I continued to run: shock, embarrassment, frustration, fear, disappointment, shame, guilt and sadness.
With my weight, I thought I had come to a place where I was finally content and I was no longer preoccupied with fat. I thought I was in that place of peace with my weight. I believed I was in a place where my weight was no longer the boss of me. On the surface, I thought I was all those things, but apparently deep down, the truth is no, not all.
I also thought I had gotten rid of those judgmental words from my self-talk, "You're fat." Those two words used to cause me so much anguish and suffering starting when I was a kid. I was a round girl with four eyes and pigtails, and kids at school and relatives would tease me for being the chubby one. I grew up believing I was unlovable and undesirable because I was overweight.
Now I know why I can't stop running
I have come very far with my health in the last ten years. I have done much healing work and have accomplished a great deal with my health habits replacing destructive habits with healthier habits. That part is truth. But what is also truth is that a part of me is still afraid of getting fat. Now that I'm back in my skinny jeans, apparently hidden in the deep crevices is still the fear that I will gain weight and be fat again, and that's why I can't stop running.
In my mind, I went back to the last time I was overweight which was the summer of 2007. On the BMI chart, I was 2.5 points from being obese, and ironically one of the top healthy living bloggers at the time. I had gained 25lbs during the 3-year relationship I was in at that moment. During that relationship, I stopped working out and running and ate to self-medicate because I knew but was in major denial that that relationship went on 2 years longer than it should have, and that he never really loved me.
Three months before we broke up in the Fall 2007, I got my act together and started losing weight. I've dropped 40lbs since then and have kept those pounds off minus a five pound gain here and there, which is really no big deal. I see a five pound gain as a sign that I'm starting to veer of my health path.
Then it hit me during my jog yesterday that ever since 2007, I have run at least 3-4 times a week. In almost 5 years, I have run every single week. There has never been a time since I was 40lbs heavier where I have gone more than two days without running at least one mile. I have never just walked. The last time I stopped running, I gained 25lbs.
So, my emotional attachment to running has become clear to me now. I have emotionally attached running to being slim because a part of me is afraid of getting fat like the last time I stopped running. The word "fat" for me has so much emotional attachments which I thought I healed, but no, there is still more to work on. Logically, I run because it's my favorite way to exercise and stay healthy. But emotionally, I'm now seeing that my motivation to run is born more from fear and that truth is what I've been metaphorically running from seeing. See, avoidance. Me and avoidance.
It was really hard and painful to come to this truth. Getting real with yourself and facing those ugly yet true things takes courage. It does! But, as I get older and continue to do healing work, I know that the pain of facing the truth is only temporary and sets you on a path where you now know what you're dealing with so you can heal it and move forward.
Overall feeling: Awkward faced with new truths but grateful
The simplistic beauty of flowers always makes me happy :) I can easily put myself in the now when in the presence of flowers. Today, I still did jogging meditation, but I only jogged 2.11mi and I waked 1mi which is more walking than I've done since Monday. I'm making some walking headway.
It's Sunday and Mother's Day so I'm going to keep this brief because after realizing this week how much chatter goes on in my head, I've also noticed that I struggle with writing short blog posts. Every post seems like I have to write a novel which in internet form is 1,000 words. Ironic how short things can now seem like long things given the context. Online we all suffer from some form of ADD.
*what, squirrel. Oh look, yummy donuts.*
So, I'm going to practice a moment of blog silence today and leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa.
I love Crayolas! I found a green crayon on my outing today. When you become more present and aware of where your feet are, it's fascinating the things you find. No doubt, had I been doing my normal run, I would have completely missed this crayon.
I started thinking about how often we miss wonderful things that are literally right under our nose because we are too focused on our destination going as fast as we can versus slowing down and taking in what surrounds us on our path. Maybe the things we want so badly are already in our reach, we just don't see it because we're too busy chasing it.
I'm on day 6 of this walking meditation fitness challenge, and I still can't just walk. I thought yesterday declaring to you all that my intent would be to do more walking than jogging today would motivate me, but alas no. I jogged 3.5mi and walked .27mi. On the upside, I'm jogging versus running so at least I'm running slower, and I have gone music-free these past four days. I've never gone four runs straight without any music.
Running in silence is starting to grow on me actually.
I am still having issues clearing my mind and just being in silence, but as a transition, I've been jogging to the sound of my feet hitting the road. The resonance of my shoes hitting the pavement is rather calming and quite rhythmic. I gotta say it's very zen.
One of the feelings that bubbled to the surface during my jog was how I tend to put myself in second place. I put everyone else in first place, and me, I'm always second. Not that being in second place is always bad. Winning a Silver medal in the Olympics is a great accomplishment, and even if you don't win a medal just being in the Olympics itself is quite an achievement.
I've never been comfortable being the center of attention, being the star, or being a focal point. Perhaps that's why I've resisted leadership positions and star of the show roles because I don't like the spotlight on me. I didn't get into social media to be famous, I just wanted to help other people on a large scale.
When I exploded and got big on Twitter back in 2009, it totally freaked me out. All of a sudden, I got thrust into the limelight and all these top people, famous internet and social media people were wondering who the hell @skinnyjeans was. My natural introvert defense would be to hide, but when your profile is public on Twitter, uh, you cannot hide because there is no where to hide. I sucked it up and faked it til I made it. I acted like, "Yeah, of course I'm a badass tweeting MoFo. You better recognize!"
I do understand though that on some level I have to take on more leadership type roles in order create the kind of change I'd like to make with helping more people live healthier lives. That means I'll have to stop putting myself in second place, and put myself in first place. That means focusing on my needs while considering others but not at my expense.
This Mark Twain quote really resonated with me because when I was younger especially in my relationships, I would always put the other person first even at my own expense. I would date these guys who made me feel like I was an option versus a significance, and part of the problem was that I didn't believe deep down that I was worthy of being someone's priority so thusly, I attracted relationships that reinforced that belief. I'm reading like a self-help book here.
What became clear to me during my jog today is that when you are someone's option, they are never present with you. They are never fully in the now with you. You never have their full attention because their attention is somewhere else even though they may be physically in your presence. Intimacy is being with someone who can and will be fully present with you and will make you a priority, and likewise you do the same for your beloved. It's a two way street, so learning how to be more present in your own life will help you be more present with others.
I may not be just walking yet in this walking meditation challenge, but I'm certainly getting more clear and more grounded. I can see it. The noise is still there, but it's getting muter.
Overall feeling: Calmer than when I started this challenge.
On my block, there is a house I go past every day on my runs and walks that is boarded up. No life force radiates from the house. From the outside, the house feels cold and dead. During my outing today, I thought that house was a perfect metaphor for what happens to us when we shut ourselves off from the world, when we board up our heart to love, and barracked ourselves from our dreams.
If we put up the walls and don't let anyone in, how can we let anyone love us?
Since I started this walking meditation challenge 5 days ago, the subject of love has come up every single day. I already know I have intimacy and trust issues when it comes to love, and I have been working on them over the years. But maybe the love issues keep coming up now because the universe is helping me get what I want, so I can clear it and get closer to the love I want. It's no secret that I want to be married. But, I am willing to wait to have a relationship, a marriage, that is mindful and full of presence.
I've been in several relationships where I felt more alone in the relationship than I did when I was single. That form of loneliness is one of the worst kind, when you are physically together yet emotionally alone. I've finally learned my lesson and don't ever want to experience that again. That's why I'm willing to wait for the right guy, and also work on my own issues of intimacy. I get that it's a two way street.
Last night was emotionally challenging like the first night. Something got triggered in me and I went on the sweets overload again but it wasn't as worse as the first night because I was better prepared this time. In fact at one point, instead of reaching for another cookie, I decided to cry first. I chose to sit with the pain and let it out. I chose to let my pain communicate with me, and I listened. The crying got deeper and deeper but as I stayed with it and let it go, the pain left me, not all but everything there was that had to go in that moment.
My face was puffy and my eyes were swollen but I felt lighter. I felt relief. It wasn't so bad.
One of my new favorite TV shows is Scandal, and in last night's episode "The Trail" we get more background on how Olivia and Fritz aka The POTUS meet and fall in love. Their story is of soul mates who finally meet each other (when he was Governor on the campaign trail to become POTUS) but cannot be together because well he's married and running to become President, and leader of the free world. It's never simple is it.
What was so striking about this episode was the intimacy between Fritz and Olivia especially every time he looked at her. It's the kind of look everyone wants to have come their way. In one scene where he just wants to stand with her for "one minute," you can feel the intensity of the connection between these two...and not one word was said, and not one touch was made. They simply gazed into each other's eyes and were completely present with each other. That is intimacy. That is what I want but with someone where we can also physically be together openly and freely.
I had that kind of bond with someone once. We had similar one minute situations. We too had a love that could not be, at least in the current situation. It ended painfully, but the experience expanded me and showed me a taste of just how incredible and amazing love can be when you find that kind of connection with another person. I thought I had completely emotionally dealt with that relationship but apparently not all because the deep cry was mostly about him, and us. I also realized how much in love I was with an illusion versus a reality. But it's okay, because like a raw gem, you can't get vibrant unless you polish the rough edges.
Today, I ended up doing another jogging meditation but did end up walking more at the end. My intent was to just jog one mile, but as I got started, I couldn't stop. I didn't want to stop running. I thought about all the sweets I ate last night and wanted to burn them off because I was feeling fat. I thought about my "one minute" love. I thought about where my future husband was. My mind was again racing and as much as I tried desperately to silence my mind and be still and walk, just walk, I found myself not being able to.
It then hit me that perhaps my attachment to running is more about avoidance than fitness. What I am avoiding is being silent with myself because I'm afraid what pain is going to arise and I don't want to deal with it. I want to avoid suffering and run towards pleasure, literally. I guess part of me can't stop running because I'm afraid of being still. Because if that wasn't the case, I'd be able to just walk at meditative pace without a struggle. What's one week of walking? Walking is not a big deal, but in my head, not running sure is a big deal.
Tomorrow, my intent is to run only one mile and do more walking at meditative pace. Perhaps, if I write it down and share with all of you, it wille help me do a better job tomorrow. Let's see.
Overall feeling: Half open. Half closed.
Today, I found a Quarter featuring the state of Ohio on my outing. I have no personal connection to Ohio, but maybe I will later in some kind of serendipitous Touch TV show kind of way. If you haven't watched, Touch on Fox, you should. The writing is phenomenal, and the stories of how we humans are connected is remarkable.
I was thrilled to find a Quarter because I usually find pennies on the road. A Quarter is 25 pennies, so I was feeling rich! This exercise in being present is helping me have exciting moments about small things. It feels like being a kid again but in a good way, remembering the joys in simple things. As a kid, I used to go ape shit over the ice cream truck.
For an introvert, I sure do talk A LOT...in my head - way more than I thought I was aware of. Non-stop chatterbox, I am. I create more noise inside me than outside me. The last 3 days has been more like jogging meditation than walking, but I have been running in silence. No iTunes or buds in my ears breezing to Gaga or Train.
Without the music, I have noticed just how much my mind won't shut up when I run. I have noticed though on day 4 here that the nagging, whining voice of my Inner Resistant Monster is not as loud. He's chilled out the more I have stayed steady in being present. In the first two days, the monster kept complaining about how our back hurt, how we are too hot in the sun, how our left foot itches, how this, and how that. I wanted to slap the monster before I realized that the monster is actually a part of me.
A pain in my knee is talking to me
I jogged 3.5 miles and walked the last 1/3 mile. During mile one, my mind started racing about startup culture in Silicon Valley, the arrogance and pompous attitude that goes on here, and about this ridiculous brogrammer trend. I then moved onto the mental chatter of how the valley doesn't seem to have learned much from the last boom and bust.
I was now on a full blown internal rant when all of a sudden, "Ouch!" my right knee started to hurt. The pain wasn't bad enough to stop jogging, but it was sharp enough to get my attention and more importantly snap me out of the mental rant I was engaging in.
Channeling Louise Hay remembering that physical pains are manifestations of emotional issues, and that knee issues have to do with moving forward or not wanting to emotionally budge, I asked myself, "So, where in my life do I not want to move forward?"
With a moment of stillness and quiet in my mind, what first came to me was that I was clinging onto the past, and the viciousness I went through at the startup I was in during the last dotboom where I felt taken advantaged of and beaten (emotionally and spiritually.) A part of me is still attached to being a Silicon Valley victim. I still feel some level of injustice and disappointment that a place so exciting in technologial innovation is still so asleep when it comes to spiritual and emotional innovation.
Bringing myself back into the present, the now, I asked myself how this victim-hood would serve me in this moment, or serve the new startup I am wanting to build. It's not, at least, not in the way, I envision. I've already spent too many years complaining about stuff, and that got me nowhere. In the last 5 years, I've gotten much better about focusing on what will expand me (enlarge my life) versus contract me (shrink my life.) Lingering in bitterness and victim-hood is contracting, and apparently I have some healing work to do around my feelings about Silicon Valley and startup culture.
Since watching The Dhamma Brothers on Sunday, I have become engulfed with the idea of creating a mindful startup and bringing consciousness into building a high-growth company. If mindfulness can be brought to a maximum-security prison in Alabama, how can we bring mindfulness to Silicon Valley, another place filled with liars, cheaters, thieves, and murderers, not of people, but of kindness and thoughtfulness.
I was at a startup event where the speaker talked about how he had to, "put a bullet into his co-founder," meaning he had to fire his partner. I literally felt a physical pain in my heart when I heard the words, "bullet into my co-founder." I thought how violent even for a metaphor, but not surprising because that's how people often speak here. I don't think they even realize the impact of what they are saying. I'm not perfet either, It's more about being asleep versus being awake, but I have become more consicouss of my word choices. And again, the theme of mindfulness comes up for me.
When I came to the realization that I was holding onto past hurts, and started affirming about the present, and that all would unfold for my higher good so I can move forward in love and kindness, I noticed that the pain in my knee disappeared.
Overall feeling: Feeling more grounded
After all kinds of praying for change, what if God gave you a direct answer and said, "Okay, I'm going to grant you your change. I'm going to give you what you want...but it's going to take 10 years."
You'll get your change, but it will happen at a snail's pace, like my friend here I came across on the sidewalk during my run/walk today. Yes, it was another compromise day where I ran and ended with walking.
If you're like me, your initial reaction to the news that your wish will take a decade would be a tantrum of anger, frustration, annoyance, and then followeed up with disappointment, dispair and hopelessness. Why? Because our need for instant gratification is denied. Things are not going to happen the way we want them to happen. God is making me wait....for ten years - oh, the suffering.
I bring this story up because during my run/walk thoughts of my life 10 years ago came up. I was put on medical leave from work for depression, an eating disorder, alcohol abuse, panic and anxiety attacks, and PTSD from being raped by a boyfried 5 years prior. Oh, to say I was a bloody mess and hit rock bottom would be accurate. I would tell Thich Nhat Hanh I was chest high in the mud. There would be plenty of mud for a field of lotus' to grow.
If you want to learn more about how I healed from that experience, and ended up finding my life purpose work, I wrote it down in my digital book, "Death of a Road Warrior."
Ten years ago, I told God that I couldn't live like I was anymore. I was tired, literally sick and tired, and the path I was on was destructive and was killing me from the inside out. God granted my wish, but it started out awful with me going on medical leave, and ended about 10 years later.
Moving from Phoenix back to Silicon Valley this past March is really the beginning of a whole new book for me, not just a chapter, but a new book.
When it comes to personal growth, I like the concept of evolution versus getting better because I always think, "Better than what?" It's easy to get caught up in the comparison game and compare your "betterness" to other people versus comparing current self to your future better self. Also, better is relative, and the assumption that things have to always go well or good in order for us to be in a state of better.
I like evolution because it starts from an origin source which is you and where you are today, the present, the now. It's about expanding or contracting. Even when things are painful and hard, you can still be evolving. Black belts in karate don't get to where they are without getting the crap beat out of them along the way and suffering from bruises, cuts, pulled muscles and even broken bones.
I noticed during my run without music I chatter in my brain quite a bit. I had to tell myself many times to be quiet. No chatter. Clear your mind. Be still. It made me realize how even when running which I do find relaxing and calming is still filled with much noise and scattered energy - mental more than physical.
Overall feeling: Anxious but optimistic
I took a picture of the dirt all over the sidewalk because it reminded me of the relationship between suffering and happiness which Thich Nhat Hanh explained to Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Happiness and suffering support each other. The two "inter-are" meaning you can't have one without the other like left and right, or heads and tails. Thich Nhat Hanh used mud and a lotus flower as an example. You need mud to grow a lotus because a lotus cannot grow on marble.
From the dirt, a beautiful flower can bloom.
Mess and dirt is necessary. Gunk and wreckage is part of the whole.
I had to regroup and reflect on this inter-are concept this morning because last night at about 10:30pm, I experienced a mudslide of emotions, and it spiraled out of control. I lost my way, fell back into unawareness, and resorted to an old self-medicating habit. I was a hot mess!
My day one walk was a frustrating experience but I still felt hopeful. The rest of the day went fine, and I got a good amount of work done. At about 10pm, I re-watched the Thich Nhat Hanh and Oprah interview because I forgot some stuff about the "inter-are" concept. Watching the show a second time, I saw new things I didn't remember from before or perhaps fell asleep (in consciousness) during those parts the first time.
What prompted the flood of emotions is when Thich Nhat Hanh started talking about the four mantras and love. When he said, "To be loved means to be recognized as existing," I sat frozen and stared at the TV and in an instant a mudslide of grief and pain engulfed me. The anxiety swelled. I got jittery. I wanted to leap out of my skin.
I absolutely hated the feelings I was experiencing and wanted the suffering to disappear instantly.
Resorting to old self-defeating habits
So, in desperation without thinking, I did what I usually do to self-medicate. I started eating sweets. I ate a donut. I ate cookies. I drank a whole can of soda. I ate honey roasted peanuts. I started looking for whatever sweet thing I could eat in the house. I was trying desperately to stuff the suffering feelings with sweet pleasurable tastes.
I used to have self-medicating sweet food binges like this all the time, but over the years, I've worked on recognizing my triggers so that these episodes happen less. I haven't had one in months, and I had one last night. The meditation opened up a portal and brought me to that place. That place around the subject of love, apparently I have been burying.
My inner Judge Judy started in on me with the guilt and reprimand. My higher self thankfully chimed in and reminded me that mess happens. I'm human, slip happens.
I couldn't sleep because my mind would not stop analyzing what happened, and insomnia kicked in. I was awake until 4am. One of the other things I wanted to do with this walking meditation challenge is work on my sleep and wake up earlier in the day like 8am because I get into these habits of going to sleep at 3-5am and waking up at noon. That schedule throws off my day. Since it was 4am, I threw out the idea of getting up at 8am. The ironic thing is that I woke up at exactly 8am, and I didn't feel tired. I just woke up. It was weird.
I laid in bed for a bit and thought about today's walk, day 2. Instead of beating myself up about last night, I did a post mortem, and said, "What can I learn from this?" First thing that came to mind, I completely underestimated the power of walking meditation. How hard could walking slowly be? I thought I could just go from running 27 miles last week into mindful walking at a monk's pace. I only thought about the physical parts of this challenge, and not the emotional or spiritual aspects.
Last night's reaction was like the time I tried to go cold turkey from sugar. I tried to go from eating 100g+ of sugar a day to eating none, and holey hell was that gruesome. The cold turkey approach for me no matter what kind of change it is has been historically disastorus and painful!
I was reminded of one of my own sayings, "Wean versus leap into change." There is no reason for me to suffer. A challenge is supposed to push you and expand you, and yes be uncomfortable and have some level of pain, but there is no need to suffer. So, I decided to make a compromise for day 2.
I decided that I could run 2-3.11miles (5K) without music, and then do walking meditation for the latter part. The run is about half of what I normally do, and running without music would be a challenge beause I always run with music. I would only have the sound of myself and my surroundings.
During the first mile of my run, both my ankles started to hurt. This pain was unusual so I knew something emotional was behind it. Channeling Louise Hay, I remembered that anything to do with feet or legs has to do with fears of moving forward, or not wanting to budge. I asked myself, "Where in your life do you not want to budge?" Immediately, the word "love" came up. A part of me does not want to move forward with love or budge on my beliefs about love.
Again, a tsunami of pain quickly swelled. My chest physically hurt and I started crying. I was cry running, and then I was gasping for air, and yet I couldn't stop running. I could not stop to be with my pain. It then hit me that perhaps I have been using running as another way to avoid pain, to symbolically run away from my feelings. And yeah, more tears came because of that realization...and yet I kept on running. I could not, or more honestly, I did not want to stop running.
I ran 3.30miles in 36 minutes and made myself stop. I went over the 3.11 agreement and wanted to run more, but I wanted to honor my word. This is about learning discipline. I walked .49miles for 14 more minutes, and yes that wasn't meditative pace, but I tried to go as slow as I could. My heart was still racing from the run, and hurting from the realization that I have been my own barrier to love, and my beloved.
Overall feeling: Overwhelmed but the short run made me feel physically better than yesterday.