Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v06n25)
Gettin' Ripped in Ripple - by Laura Minor
posted: Dec. 18, 2009
Tune Out and Tune In
Recently, my beloved iPod died on me. The way I was whimpering and pouting, one would have thought I had lost a loved one. So, you could imagine that when I laced up my running shoes to head out for a jog, I was not too happy. "This is going to be boring and feel like it will take twice as long," I thought to myself while taking my first few steps. Well, I am happy to say that in this loss I found a whole new appreciation for the sport that I already adore.
I used to be a bit in awe of those who said they never listen to music, read or watch TV when doing their cardio exercise. Distractions are used by most to get through the workout with as little awareness to the exercise as possible, so it won't seem to take as long. But now I know exactly why those other people do it. . . it gets you in tune with your body in a whole different way. You become present with yourself and in the moment. This is called a ZEN athlete.
Not many people begin an exercise program as Zen athletes. I came across this term a few years back in a magazine, and it has resonated in my head ever since. I have asked myself several times "Am I a Zen athlete?" My answer to this is if you are asking yourself this question, you probably are not. You will likely know if you are.
Here are the primary components to those who are Zen with their physical activity. These all come over time, and with practice. . . everyone is capable of them, but they are earned skills that hugely pay off. Obviously it does not have to be during running- find your own activity such as swimming, biking, hiking or yoga for example.
- Concentration: Try to stay in the moment. This is hard for many of us. Instead of thinking of all of the things we have to do later, try to acknowledge those thoughts and let them slip away to return to that moment. Trust me, you will have plenty of time to worry about all of the errands, work meetings and social obligations at other times.
- Breathing: When the music is off, you hear your bodily machine in action. You can monitor your exercise exertion and adjust accordingly, depending on your goal that day. Also, paying attention to one's breath leads to a meditative feeling, and will significantly aid to keep you in the moment.
- Time to Yourself: This is my FAVORITE thing. Most of us are around people all day long, and really never have solitude. I call my runs "Laura's appointment with Laura," and I look at it as a gift to myself to keep myself company without getting bored. What does that say about you if you bore yourself (ha-ha. . . but not really, if you think about it)?
- Contemplation: When concentration is difficult, try to contemplate your life, your dreams, your fears, and what/who are important to you. While exercising, your brain activity and adrenaline increase and you find that you may see challenges and obstacles in a more positive way.
- New Ideas: During your contemplating, it is also a good opportunity to come up with new ideas while you have the "peace" to really give them some thought. I come up with new routines for clients, fun recipes to try, or even realize someone from my past that I want to friend on Facebook!
- Be Monumentous: While in the moment, I am so in tune to the world around me. The crunch of leaves under my feet, the howling wind, the Butler hourly bell toll, the birds, train whistles, my body's energy and fatigue, and every thing else going on in the world. Now I say to myself, "How can this be boring?"
It is not to say in the least that those who listen to music cannot accomplish these same feelings. I just found it for myself by accident, when I was forced to go inside my own head. And, I am sure that I will still use my soon to be purchased iPod here and there, but I don't need it to enjoy myself!
Laura Minor owner and operator of So.Be.Fit. Personal Training and Fitness studio located at 54th and the Monon. She is passionate about teaching others how to "FIT" exercise and physical activity into their daily lives, and have fun while doing so! Visit her website at www.sobefitindy.com or e-mail laura@BroadRippleGazette.com