Mindfulness Activity #79
“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking”
Good Morning. Recently, I have been getting advice on how to begin running from my brother, an elite athlete who has finished both Ironman and Ultraman Triathalons. I was telling him that when I try to run, I get tired, and I just stop. His advice was, “Don’t stop.” I said, I just can’t keep going, I get tired, it’s painful. He explained that I just needed not to stop. If I couldn’t run any more, I could walk and then start running again as soon as I could. With little bursts of running and walking, he said I would soon be able to run consistently. That’s kind of how mindfulness is…You just need to keep from giving up. Distraction, lack of motivation, emotional fatigue, and even pain is all part of the process. I can say for sure–and there are literally hundreds of studies that support this-when you don’t give up and when you have a regular mindfulness practice, you are physically healthier, your body shuts off cortisol production, you regularly experience peaceful and pleasant moments, and you have more energy and focus to reach your goals.
In college, I was on an athletic scholarship. I will tell you that giving up was a daily urge. I didn’t quit largely because of the support of my team. I felt connected to them, supported and encouraged by them, obligated to them. They helped me to dig deeper and to give my very best effort. Earlier this week, we discussed the concept of community (sangha). I encourage you to each find your support. And allow yourself to be encouraged by them. Feel obligated to them-it helps when you want to quit. Support them (they get tired too.) These things will make it much easier for you to just keep going. Organically, the group of people practicing mindfulness with these daily blasts each day has grown and created a community. When I got distracted and missed people in my email, you let me know. That is community. We are connected and obligated to each other. When you do not feel like practicing, or when you feel tired, think about all the other people reading these and practicing. Draw support and energy from that thought and just keep going.
Today’s mindfulness practice is for everyone, but in particular, this goes out to the POETIC girls in Texas, to the boys and girls in Bexar County, to the boys and girls I work with in Connecticut, and to all the individuals in the hospitals in New Jersey where I teach DBT. I know that it is REALLY HARD not to give up. In fact it is REALLY HARD to believe that change is possible at all, but I will tell you what my brother told me…just don’t stop and you will get where you want to go. Use your community. Use this community. Keep practicing. Continue right now with today’s practice
There is a Buddhist proverb that says “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” Today’s practice is a walking practice. Thich Nhat Hanh has said that we should kiss the earth when we walk. So, take a few deep breaths, set a timer for how long you wish to practice, and walk. Make each step both gentle and purposeful. It doesn’t matter where you are walking, or the speed of your steps as long as you are moving. Just do not stop. Keep breathing deeply and putting one step in front of another.
It may not be clear exactly how this will help with the rest of your life, but it will.