JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 19 – Into Action…

Day 19:

4:30AM – Coffee/Meditation

Along with Autobiography of Yogi (evening reading), I’m diving back into Fit Body, Fit Soul, for daytime reading and studying.  This time it’s different, I’m taking notes and going apeshit with my highlighter.  For me there are so many important and relevant concepts buried within the main theme of “having a fit soul and a fit body is the secret to true happiness.”  There are other books that I’ve paid as close attention to, the Big Book for one, but the way Mark and Brant (authors) lay out their content, it’s just so simple for me to read, soak in, and apply.

According to their research, stress will be the number one occupational hazard in this century.  I believe it.  The stress that I feel from people, places, and things, when I’m not being mindful, can be completely overwhelming.  Now that I’ve seen just how much stress can affect my mindset and mood I’m hyper-aware of situations that other people bear witness to.  In the pharmacy, grocery store, traffic, coffee shops, it’s everywhere.  Have you ever stood in line at a pharmacy and just watched people as they go through the process of having their prescriptions filled?  Holy hell, it’s my nightmare.  God bless Jeff (aka, #10, best friend), I couldn’t do it like he does. Furthermore, stress is linked to the top six causes of death in the United States:  heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.  For me, I feel grateful to have identified its true effect on my lifestyle.  Now it’s just a matter of applying the tools I have learned through mindfulness to better defend myself against a condition that previously caused an undeniable amount of personal heartache.  Here’s the most important tool for me, brought to light by my guy Wude:   insert gap, take 3 deep breathes, move forward.  It seems to work every single time.

10:00AM – I just returned home from a very intense and powerful therapy appointment.  Never before have I shed so many tears and found myself so exposed and vulnerable in such a setting.  Luckily, other than an afternoon run, I don’t have any commitments.  In using the mindfulness techniques that I have learned over the last couple of weeks I am going to do my best to take care of myself for the rest of the day.  Today I’m in desperate need of peace, quiet, and a sense of tranquility to help process what I just experienced.

That’s all for the day.

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JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 18

Day 18 –

4:15AM – Coffee/Meditation

Intentionality.  For me it’s now about doing one thing at a time.  I tend to thrive when I focus on doing an act of singularity as opposed to trying to “multi-task,” whatever that word means.

Normally in the mornings after coffee, meditation, and breakfast, I launch into about an hour of stretching and foam rolling to get ready for my morning run.  While doing so this morning I had a bit of a breakthrough.  Instead of listening to a good quality podcast (my go-to’s are Rich Roll, Michael Gervais, Julie Piatt, and Guru Singh) I kept the radio off and focused on just the single act of stretching.  My only focus was to prepare my body for the days physical efforts.  To my surprise something else happened.

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Feeling the wind gusts on top of Hart Mtn in Eastern Oregon last fall.  During that particular adventure, under the vast Eastern Oregon sky, I felt free (and really freaking lost).

While rolling out my left quadricep I had a very profound flashback from when I was a child.  At this point of my journey I am not ready to talk publicly about what specifically happened, all I can say is that the memory came rushing back with a vengeance and I was reminded of a very significant turning point in my emotional development;  I re-lived the moment that I became hostage to the idea of needing reassurance for everything that I have ever done as a human being.  Moments after this flashback I find myself sitting here writing in complete awe, fascinated as to why this memory had not resurfaced sooner.  The instance that I speak of is a very important fabric to my being, I cannot believe that I haven’t acknowledged it’s existence with more persistence.

Would this realization have happened if I had been stretching and listening to the radio (ie. multi-tasking)?  Maybe, maybe not.  Who’s to say when the memory would have resurfaced. However I do believe that this morning, acting with sheer intentionality, something important occurred that may not have happened if I had been doing more than one thing at a time.  The puzzle that is my life continues to come together and I feel lucky for it.

I feel a sense of purpose as I approach today.  I feel detached from a results-driven mindset.  I am truly beginning to see the effects of the last 18 days of practicing a better sense of mindfulness.  Today will be about living in the moment, the present, feeling each step as I push forward in this journey of self-discovery.  Today I feel free to go kick some fucking ass on my own terms.

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JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 17

Day 17:

4:30AM – Coffee / Meditation

Here’s why I have trouble sometimes with Facebook.  You know when you login and there is a section that gives you suggested friends?  Well, yesterday I saw a guy that I used to be “friends” with come up, meaning that at some point he had “unfriended” me.  It pissed me off for about an hour on the drive home yesterday.  I realize this is ridiculous thinking in so many ways.  Who’s to say why he “unfriended me” or if he had to start his account all over again. Maybe it has nothing to do with me.  The point is, why the fuck do I care?  Something inside me may still need the approval that I’m a good person.  It’s silly to me the stuff that can sneak through the cracks and affect me like that sometimes.  Perhaps it’s another reminder to stay persistent on the only work I have the power to do, on myself.

While meditating this morning the welcomed thought and reminder came through about how I can cope with emotional stressors.  Part of the reason why I took on this 20 day challenge was to create habits around the idea of mindfulness, implementing techniques to help me navigate the comings and goings of any given day.  I am reminded that I have the power to create my own reality, my reactions to stress are of my own making, no one else’s.  For me, I tend to create my own suffering by letting my thoughts dictate my actions.  Therefore, if I stay diligent on responding to stress by being calm, having a smile, and quieting my mind, I feel like I will continue to have a chance at getting through any situation that life throws my way.

7:00PM – I had a hard conversation with a close friend last night about the struggles I am having in my mind lately.  It was a tough situation to talk about, for both parties I’m sure.  For me, it’s important that I continue to be open and honest with my friends.  The minute I start bottling shit up and internalizing all of my thoughts and feelings is when I can plummet down the rabbit hole and into a cave of self-pity and despair.  I don’t want to go there but for some reason I’m still drawn to that place.

Meditation/ginger concoction/reading/bed.  I’m tired tonight.

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JSN Mindfulness Project – Day 16

Day 16:

4:30AM – Coffee/Meditation

There is a certain level of mystery and aura to Southern Oregon.  Perhaps, maybe, the strange Vortex in Jacksonville has something to do with it.  Off the beaten path on the northern edge of the Siskiyou Mountains lie the quaint and rural communities like Ruch, Buncom, Williams, along with the Applegate recreation area. Each town reminds me a bit of Worthington, the town I grew up in.  I could see myself living here someday.  Rumor has it that Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band) owns an multi-thousand acre ranch in Williams.  Each time I visit there I feel like I’m entering the land that time has forgotten.  Then you add in the plethora of idyllic and rugged trails that scale the ridge lines and peaks, which for me, adds to the idea that Southern Oregon is a little slice of heaven.  After being here, yet again, my enthusiasm to explore the area is more profound than ever.

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Looking down from one of the many ridge lines that surround Applegate Reservoir

Once you enter the heart of the Siskiyou’s cell phone coverage becomes nonexistent.  There are no beeps, notifications, alerts, or voicemails that come through.  For me, the silence and detachment from the outside world only adds to the idea of this place being special to me.  I feel “off the grid” in many ways. Furthermore the silence provokes and encourages a sense of peace, quiet, and the opportunity to practice mindfulness.  Southern Oregon is becoming a sanctuary of sorts, a place where I can enjoy the mountains, for hours on end, and not run into a single soul.  This remote corner of Oregon is pure, raw, and authentic.  The love affair shall continue.

Yesterday mornings mental carnival ride is still bothering me.  I think I know the reason why, which is helping me to let go of the episode and focus on the upcoming day of being back in the mountains.  Letting go of certain situations has been very hard for me over the last few days, despite the focus I have on practicing mindfulness.  The peace and quiet this weekend has helped, however I know that this external interlude of serenity, once I enter back into the world of hustle and bustle, could be fleeting if I deny being in the NOW.

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Cruising the Payette trail and ran into this bridge

6:30 PM – Having just returned from the drive from Southern Oregon I’m in some serious need of a little meditation to calm my body and mind down.  I’m jacked up from driving, having put Daft Punk’s Alive 07 album on volume 11 for the last stretch from Eugene to Adair Village.  Might have had an extra cup of coffee too.  Oh well, it’s what helps get me through long drives.

It’s nice to be home, refreshed from a solid 3 days in the mountains.  I feel like I put some good work in for my head running around the endless trail system that the Siskiyou’s have to offer.  The only conflict that I came across during todays run was a bout of hunger.  Yesterdays tension and strain seemed to have been alleviated and left on the trails by virtue of letting go; today was all about reminding myself that there is no conflict in the mountains.

I’m about to start reading Autobiography of a Yogi, of which I’ve heard many great things.  I’m excited to see what it unveils.

Check out the blogpost that started this journey through mindfulness:  https://spencernewell1032.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/the-fight-with-my-mind-something-needs-to-change-today/

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JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 15

Day 15:

4:45AM – Coffee/Meditation

This morning my mind is rattled.  From what, I cannot say.  Today will be all about enjoying being surrounded by the mountains.

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Traversing Little Greyback Mt.

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Memorial for “Geno” on the Little Greyback Trail

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Dutchmen Peak is somewhere in the clouds.

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Closed for the winter!  Watch-out tower from Squaw Peak

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Squaw Peak in the distance, 3 hours later from the Stein Butte ridgeline

6:00PM – Today was more about photos and less about writing.  I felt very conflicted for the first few hours running today, my body was tense and wound tight.  Once I got to the summit of Squaw Peak and took a huge breathe of the Siskiyou’s air the tension seemed to dissipate.  From the remainder of the run I felt calm, reminding myself that when I’m running in the mountains there is no conflict.  The only conflict is what I create for myself in the mind.

I feel at peace this evening.

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JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 14

Day 14:

4:00AM – Coffee/Meditation

Today I’m pretty clear that some days are better than others when it comes to being able to clear my mind and just breathe.  This morning was a challenge in this regard, reinforcing the fact that meditation isn’t about adhering to the labels of good or bad, it just IS.

I’m currently in the midst of some heavy mental processing.  Emotionally, there is some hard work being done as I’m beginning to reconcile a part of me that I’ve never been able to let go.  Breathing and being mindful during this process is a tool more valuable than I ever thought imaginable.

In a couple of hours I’m going to make my way back down to Ashland, a town that I’m slowly falling in love with.  A friend of mine has given me the opportunity to housesit for her this weekend so that I can head back in to the rugged Siskiyou Mountain range to get in some good hard miles.  In talking with my buddy Andrew yesterday while running I found myself wondering why the Siskiyou’s mean so much to me.  After talking it through I realized that last September, while racing Pine to Palm 100 (a point to point race that traverses the Siskiyou’s), I underwent a significant period of self-realization.  During that race I became raw, stripped down to the core, and vulnerable.  The physical suffering that I experienced that day opened up a door for me to explore the bare bones of what I’m about.  Therefore, I’m always excited to return to Southern Oregon and continue my work in the mountains

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Cruising up a rainy Horn Gap trail in Ashland yesterday.  Rain, shine, wind, snow, it’s always fun for me to explore the Siskiyou’s.

6:30PM – Didn’t have to much of a chance to get in some meditation today as I spent most of the day in the car.  I feel a little off in regards to having inner peace, maybe that’s just the effect of traveling.  On the flip side I got in some great miles in Ashland, re-visiting a portion of the Pine to Palm 100 course.  I don’t think it’s really even set in yet that I actually ran for 100 miles last September.  Freaking crazy.  Experiencing the course today was a fantastic way to re-visit the feat as I was able to run the last 10 miles of the course all the way to what would be the finish line.

The house I’m staying at is fantastic.  There’s a huge window in the living room overlooking part of the Siskiyou mountain range.  This will be a perfect spot to catch up on some well-needed meditation tonight as the sun goes down.

Time to get my turmeric/ginger/magnesium mocktail on and call it a night.  Stoked to have another big day in the mountains tomorrow!

Check out the blogpost that started this journey through mindfulness:  https://spencernewell1032.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/the-fight-with-my-mind-something-needs-to-change-today/

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JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 13

Day 13:

4:45AM – Coffee/Meditation

H.A.L.T: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  I love this acronym.  When I feel anxious and un-present I can usually trace either sensation back to one of these four feelings.  Normally it just stays at one.  Today however, I’m feeling the effects of two of the four.  I’m hungry and I’m tired.  I’m hungry because my metabolism is running at 110%, I can’t seem to put enough calories down in the last few days.  Trying to stay on top of nutrition and caloric intake can be tough sometimes,f I’m still sorting out what type of food and calories my stomach can handle when it requires more than the amount that I’m normally used to.  For me, this is certainly progress if I compare today with a couple of years ago when I was intentionally limiting calories to lose weight.

Being tired is another beast in and of itself.  That being said it’s much easier for me to handle now than it has been in the past.  For me, being tired is simply a part of the training process.  Periodization, the methodology I use for training, emphasizes a gradual build in fatigue followed by periods of rest to metabolize the hard training weeks into fitness.  Typically I feel the most tired towards the end of week 2 of a 3 week build period.  So, it makes sense that I’m feeling fatigued at this point in the training cycle.  But here’s the tricky part with being tired for me.  In the past when I’ve been tired my mind begins to fire up and tell me that I’m not strong enough or worthy enough to train at this level.  It sprinkles thoughts of weakness, despair, fear, and anxiety;  rather than being passive with these thoughts my default setting normally settles in to listen to them and heed their advice (being true to my false-self/living-in-the-past mentality).  Not today.

Yes, there is an element of self-awareness in being tired.  Each day when I feel tired I engage a level of discernment as to how I really feel.  I ask myself “why am I tired?”  Is it because I’m physically overdoing it or is it because it’s just where I am in the process?  I’ve struggled with answering this question for myself in the past.  Remember, for this addict, more is usually better.  Not being honest with myself has led to injury, among other things.  Luckily, rather than react to the feeling of being tired, I can employ a new technique for discernment:  clear the mind, get into my body, feel what’s going on, breathe, and make a judgement call.  We’ll see how it goes today.

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Just another day in the McDonald Dunn Forest.  Scenes like this help trip the mechanism that is my mind out of sync and back into being in the present moment

2:30PM – In keeping with the running theme today:  Recently, over the past couple of years, I have struggled to find the confidence to run with people.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company, it’s because I haven’t had the confidence as a runner to be OK to ask to slow down or hike on steep hills, especially if I’m shooting for an easy day. I know it’s my ego talking.  It’s hard to hold the negative thoughts at bay sometimes. For long stretches of time, sometimes months, I only ran by myself, on purpose, to avoid any mental conflicts I would instill upon myself.   That being said, running on my own is very therapeutic and meditative for this introvert, but still, I would like to continue to develop the confidence to run with others.  I know it’s a good way to have social contact and good conversation. With that, I’m really freaking proud to say that I’ve run with people for the last three days and it’s been a blast!

Insert gap, take 3 breathes, move forward.  Time for some Headspace.

Check out the blogpost that started this journey through mindfulness:  https://spencernewell1032.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/the-fight-with-my-mind-something-needs-to-change-today/

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