Serving Mind and Body through Endurance Training
Posted By: KP
Date: Saturday, 2 August 2008, at 11:09 a.m.
Stress presents itself in many ways in our lives. Work, finance, relationships and health challenges all contribute varying degrees of stress in my life. I prefer to keep most of what life has to offer in my day to day existence so it is key for me to find ways to release stress or view experiences in a way that allows me to avoid undue fatigue and dis-ease. I believe we can combine increasing mental and physical fitness with lowering stress. Rather than trying to find weeks at a time away from phone, fax, work, e-mail on a retreat, perhaps we can look to set aside time each day or every other day or every three days to do something physical and reset your mind at the same time.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy base training so much. I can get lost in my thoughts while the physical repetitions reset connections between left and right brains. Physical repetition helps clear my head and is healing for the mind and body. This form of meditation is one of the great allures of distance training. When you get it, exercise can become both mental and physical therapy. This may take a bit of practice to master if you have been overly focused on performance. Ironically, the folks who might benefit the most from unplugging this way sometimes struggle with quieting the mind (even on extended retreat).
For me, the ideas of getting outdoors and running through a canyon, cruising the coast or inland hills on my bike, surfing, paddling on open water, all offer opportunities to get lost in my thoughts and reset my mind. Repetitive motion can produce a meditative state that results in a cleansing of the mind that leads to an inner peace. This is not to be confused with fatigue that makes you numb or killer sessions where focus is on managing discomfort or raising VO2max.
I also combine physical repetitive motion meditation with what could be called “access meditation” or “insightful meditation” or “mindfulness”. I let my conscious and unconscious minds wander; ideally without judgment. This has been likened to letting the wind blow away mental clutter. The key (for me) is that when I get out and move. I don’t have to be entertained. I just get lost in the fun. To be clear, I do a lot of training alone but am not a hermit and love to be around like minded guys and gals. Finding other people who understand provides a great opportunity to do this with others. If you have the right group, endurance training can be a fantastic way to share such experiences.
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