Sunday, November 17, 2013

Let Go and Lean In

Two weeks ago I was scheduled to start training for my first marathon race.

And sort of like clock work, I had to admit that I was injured...a chronic injury that I'd been ignoring probably for several weeks, okay, more like several months.  It allowed me to get through training for a half marathon and also to endure a fun, but exhausting 78-mile relay run. 

Suffering from heel pain, I started consulting the world...asking fellow mother running friends, triathletes, physicians, orthotic folks, and physical therapists.  After an epic fail physically and financially with orthotics, I got back to basics and started stretching and doing the work to get better.

And low and behold, slowly, but surely, I am healing.

The marathon is 24 weeks from today, so in theory, I should be okay...I suppose as long as I don't get injured again.

And so to try to minimize future injuries and to get stronger and leaner, I'm revamping the way I workout.  Incorporating more yoga classes and body resistance training with the hope that my running will get faster and my endurance will be greater.

And so it was at the end of a yoga class, after trying to contort my body into the 'Bird of Paradise' pose that I listened to powerful words from my instructor...

Lying on my back, palms open wide, eyes closed, right ear to the mat in the darkness, I heard:

"Remember that the natural state of the body is health and the natural state of the mind is happiness.  Honor that."

And I wanted to cry.

Wound tightly most of the time, I'm always trying to do so much.  And to be fair, I know that it's not just me.  Almost every woman struggles to enjoy life.  We're consumed with making sure that everyone has everything they need all of the time.  It's how we're wired as wives, mothers, daughters, friends, neighbors.  We seek to serve and to nurture, most often, at the cost of ourselves.  And then, one day, our own health and happiness has been compromised.  And we justify it because it's for a good cause.  Making sure that our loved ones have what they need makes us feel useful and brings a sense of joy...until, it doesn't and we're sick and tired, literally.

After the class, I sat in the steam room and through deep breaths, let the tears flow and remembered another mantra that the yoga instructor said, "You must practice letting go."  Words that seem impossible, improbable, and maybe even to an extent irresponsible.

But really, in this life, what do we control?  The truth is nothing.  It's all illusory.  It's all temporary.  And the harder we cling, the quicker it disintegrates.

The trick must be to choose the experience for experience sake and not exclusively for the purpose of the outcome.  Trust that organically the body seeks to be free from disease, most notably from stress-induced behaviors and that the mind seeks to be free from worry and guilt, so that it can thrive and elevate toward joy and happiness.

This information will be pivotal as I start to train for my first marathon race, which will certainly be more challenging mentally than physically.  My prayer is that I can let go and lean in to all that it has to offer.

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