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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JSN Mindfulness Project: Day 12

Day 12:

4:30AM – Coffee/meditation

This morning is all about the NOW.  It’s been a while since I’ve read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, perhaps over a year.  To this day, even more so than before, I still access and apply his concepts of the present moment.

Keeping in tune with the NOW, the idea of false-self versus true-self has a strong reverberation for me lately.  As I understand, the false-self lives in the past and dwells on the future while the true-self lives in the present, the NOW.  During today’s morning meditation my understanding of these concepts was rock-solid and unshakeable.  Here’s an example of this in motion as it relates to running, a relatively easy and relatable topic to discuss.

I’ve never won an ultra-distance running race.  In the back of my head it’s been a goal of mine ever since I started this crazy sport five years ago.  Would I like for this to happen one day? Absolutely!  I’m competitive in nature and for me I’d love to know the hard work of training every single day will pay off in the form of a solid result, among many other things.  However, I feel confident today in knowing that a result is not the be-all-end-all goal.  In fact, the more miles I put in and the harder I train, the more fun and rewarding this sport becomes for me, regardless of if I race or not.  It certainly used to be only about results, but not anymore. If the result is everything in my life that I have to shoot for than I feel like I’d be missing the whole point.

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2013 Hagg Lake 50k, my 2nd ever ultra-distance running race, carrying an old mindset that I’m either winning or losing.  

So how does the false-self and true-self play into this scenario?  Well, if I identify a result in running solely as proof that I’m good enough, fast enough, fit enough, etc, then I am living in the past, my false-self is at work.  Here’s why, I know it might be a bit a leap but bear with me:  the false-self wants to justify all of the pain and agony of years of being in endurance sports and not having  achieved success or a result, based on the standards and athletes that I’ve compared myself with.  In the past I have identified “losing”, not coming in first or on the podium, as a failure and a reason to not feel worthy.  I’ve held on to this idea for years.  Therefore, in the present day, if I do not achieve a certain result that I think I should expect, based on my past of “suffering” through being mediocre (an illusion), then I would have failed, my false-self would come out on top.  If I hold on to expectations from the past, through this idea of false-self, I am doomed, especially because of my addictive nature that more is always better.  Tripping up this mechanism and way of thinking seems to be a path to freedom for me, to relate more to the true-self, the present.  When running, in my body of true-self, I am free to fly, to enjoy the process, to work hard because I love to work hard,  and to be present with every single footstep.  Although I’m not able to be in this mindset for every single run I find today it’s significantly easier to accomplish then say, just last year when running was ALL about results.  I think I can get pretty used to the idea of befriending my true-self.

Trying out a new concoction for relaxation and recovery.  Yesterday evening I mixed up some hot water with Cacao powder, magnesium, turmeric, ginger, and almond milk.  It turned out pretty tasty believe it or not. I’ve been finding that turmeric and ginger really help me recover faster because they naturally reduce inflammation in the body.

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 11

Day 11:

4:45AM Coffee/Meditation

I used to watch a lot of television, especially first thing in the morning along with my cup of coffee and breakfast.  Lately, because I’ve made a conscious effort to be more mindful in the mornings before the sun rises, I’ve veered away from this daily ritual.  After just 11 days of replacing television with the quiet and serene setting of my bedroom I see what a profound affect the shift in habits has had on my overall mindset heading into the day.  Television jacks me up, similar to social media it can be like crack.  Looking back it’s clear that including TV in my morning ritual would set my mind off in a thousand different directions for the remainder of the day.  Instead, filling that void with singular intentions of meditating, eating, stretching, etc, I find that I more apt to carry a sense of peace and mindfulness into the rest of my day.  For now it seems to be working so I’m just going to go with it.

Meditating this morning was a challenge.  Thoughts were cranking in my head from the moment I opened my eyes.  The thoughts weren’t harmful or dark in any way, they were just there in their own pesky way.  A friend of mine asked me yesterday if my goal in this process was to gain control my thoughts.  The question was appropriate given the context of the conversation.  My first reaction was to say yes, I am trying to control what goes through my head, simply due to the fact that I have a tendency to display issues with control.  But yesterday, I caught myself in the act before I responded.  It was a tremendous opportunity to insert a mindful response.   Rather than going into my default setting, saying that I was in search of control,  I was able to look beyond my initial reaction and explore a different approach, a more gentle way.  Ultimately my answer was no, I’m not looking to control my thoughts because thoughts are going to happen regardless, it’s just the way it is.

12:30PM – I’ve been sitting on hold with my health insurance company for 28 minutes.  I figured this would be a good opportunity to enter into some mindful writing because their “hold music” is putting me to sleep.  Why can’t they play some Gareth or Armin instead of repeating some 3 minute segment of really shitty classical music.  Insert gap, 3 deep breathes, sip warm green tea, continue writing.

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I recently came across a concept that is very interesting to me given the project I am undertaking. Check it: “The truth never causes pain.  The only pain in a crisis is the false self’s resistance to the truth.”  This is profound for me.  Just the other day someone in my life, a mentor of sorts, brought a truth to my attention in regards to my process of self-discovery.  And my initial reaction to hearing this truth?  I immediately put up walls and let my false-self takeover to say the other person was wrong, therefore creating an unnecessary conflict between us in the process.  This person is someone on my team that I know and trust.  He has nothing but the best of intentions for me. The comment was a small truth, but a truth none-the-less.  So why did I find it necessary to put up the walls and let my ego take over and create a circumstance of right versus wrong?  Well, that is how I’ve always done things.  Regardless of whatever truth someone tells me about myself I’ve always tended to create conflict by dismissing the comment as incorrect.  Returning to the other day with my friend I was able to catch myself in the act (after a few seconds of anxiety), let my guard down, and just hear him out as to why he brought up this tiny truth.  Wouldn’t you know it, he was correct in his assessment about what he saw going on with me.  Lesson learned.  The truth caused me pain.  Take away the false sense of self and there would be no pain.  Now that’s fucking profound.

1:45PM – Still on hold with my health insurance company.  Here’s a truth:  Someone needs to pick up the damn phone.

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 10

Day 10:

4:45AM – Coffee/Meditation

An old thought pattern resurfaced for a minute this morning that wasn’t very comfortable.  The thought occurred to me that I’m further alienating friends by writing each day about spirituality and mindfulness.  I have NO idea where this thought pattern originated from.  I know it was pure illusion. Regardless, I began to obsess that all of my friends figured I was becoming religious, in the conventional sense, therefore alienating me even more.  For the record I’m not a religious person so to speak, many times I have heard  the words spirituality and religion go hand in hand.  For me, that is not necessarily the case, I respect all people’s beliefs whether  it’s in Jesus, Allah, Krishna, or the Boston Red Sox for that matter.  Regardless, the toxic thought pattern and illusion of self-alienation triggered a fear in me, the fear of being alone, one fear that I have not had too much trouble in putting aside as much as I had before.  Luckily I was able to meditate through the toxic and illusory narrative, putting my mind at ease with breathing and simply letting the thought go.  Who’s to say it won’t resurface again but at least I feel confident in the tools I have today, knowing that I can wade through thoughts such as this with a little more ease.  It is clear that this will always be a process.

I’m really looking forward to today.  It’s a full rest day from training, dedicated to recovering my body from lots of great miles last week in the woods.  For me, today is all about self-care.  The day will include lots of good food, a 90 minute massage from my gal Wendie, stretching, foam-rolling, and perhaps an evening walk to shake out my legs.  Normally I feel guilty with taking rest, perhaps it’s the addictive nature that usually says  more is always better!  I believe I am continuing to see a shift in this regard for with having more mindfulness I am more apt to really listen to my body as to what it needs.  Today it needs to chill the fuck out, stay horizontal as much as possible, and just relax.

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As much as I love running in the Mac – Dunn Forest scenes like this (taken last fall in Canmore, AB) make me excited for a summer of exploring big mountains.

7:30PM – Today has been great in terms of maintaining awareness toward the present moment.  Overall I feel like each successive day has become easier, not so much in staying mindful, but in recognizing when an old thought pattern resurfaces, recognizing it, then moving forward without reaction or an attached emotion.  When I began this mindfulness project my hope was to not achieve full awareness, whatever that means.  Again, I’m not looking for the finish line of achieving anything here, I’m just trying to encourage a shift in my habitual nature as it relates to staying conscious and aware.  Although today was a good day in terms of the continuation of laying the groundwork to a new way of life, I know that there is much work to be done.  Sometimes it will be easier and sometimes it will be harder…but can’t it just BE?  This self-imposed mission of mindfulness for 20 days is not the end goal, it’s a way to learn about what it might feel like if perhaps I was able to establish an effective pattern of action moving forward, each and every day.

Heard the best quote today:  “Hard work can overtake talent when talent doesn’t do the hard work.”

After evening meditation and some light reading I’m calling it a night.  After the day off from running I’m pumped to get back at it tomorrow, especially because I get to run with a friend that I have not run with in almost a year!

Check out the blogpost that started this journey to 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 9

Day 9:

5:00AM – Coffee/Meditation

Emery let me sleep in a bit today.  A very slight bit.

During meditation this morning I feel like I had a bit of a breakthrough.  Similar to yesterday I focused on the notion of being the root of my own suffering.  With having an understanding of the concept, for the most part, I was able to take action this morning by not reacting to my thoughts.  In many readings that I’ve come across recently it is recommended, while meditating, to acknowledge a thought that comes along, without reaction.  Since my default setting is to immediately react and let the thought actualize in my head to become an emotion and state-of-being I found solace this morning in being able to identify those thoughts as illusions, acknowledge the thought existed, then calmly move it aside.  It was a profound experience.  I was encouraged knowing that I might just be able to form a habit around the idea of being passive when listening to thoughts, in essence, letting go of their affects on me.  I’m excited to continue to work on this.

Recently I’ve really been enjoying Guy Finley’s book The Art of Letting Go.  Next up are a couple of Guru Singh’s books, The Kundalini Yoga Experience and Spiritual Pavement.  For me, reading books of this nature used to be work, I’d constantly struggle on the content simply because I wasn’t ready to accept and appreciate what each was talking about.  Today such readings are immensely pleasurable to dive into.  I feel like a sponge soaking it all up.

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During a trip to Eastern Oregon last fall.  I’m really looking forward to returning to the Alvord desert again this Spring!  

6:00PM – When I am tired I generally become grumpy.  This afternoon I’m tired but I’m not necessarily grumpy this time around. I think what has helped me to stay level-headed have been the insertion of several 3 second breathing gaps throughout the day.  These gaps are helping me to break up the normally constant narrative that I’m tired and don’t feel like talking.  In fact, today, I was able to have a pretty productive meeting and I didn’t let my tired state eschew my ability to hold a conversation.

I can feel the affects of not getting in a meditation session during the middle of day.  It’s been great in the mornings and evenings this weekend but for some reason I’ve lapsed on the additional day time session.  Running today was meditative in a sense but not like it has been over this past week.  Being as though it was the end of a long training week I was looking more at the clock today, although I stopped on every summit to catch my breathe and take in the view.

I haven’t looked at Facebook all day today.  I’m amazed that I haven’t really even thought about it or been tempted.

Tonight I’m going to just kick back on the couch with Emery and watch a mindless movie.  Yes, it may not be the most mindful practice in the world, but sometimes I just need a little break to do nothing.

Check out the blogpost that started this journey to 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 8

Day 8:

4:30AM – Coffee/Meditation done

Social media can have a profound affect on me.  I liken it to my several experiences in Las Vegas.  Sensory fucking overload.  For me, I just can’t deal with all of the noise and clutter that  each platform offers, above and beyond the good quality updates and photos from friends and family.  I believe that social media can be a terrific tool as I will continue to use it to some degree, albeit appropriately for what I can sufficiently handle without going down the rabbit hole of mindlessness. Thus, I have begun to refine what forms of social media that I keep active and current with.

The first form to go is Snapchat.  Holy hell, for me Snapchat is like a straight up cocaine binge.  Once I get started looking at people’s updates I just cannot stop.  At this point I just cannot handle being active on Snapchat in a mindful manner.  Therefore, it’s gone.  And don’t even get me started on Bumble and Tinder.  If Snapchat is like cocaine then those online dating sights are like a huge fucking pile of speed as big as my desk with my face down in it; plus I dropped those a while ago but at one time I was straight up addicted.

The second form of social media to go is Strava.  Strava is like Facebook for endurance athletes.  For me, it’s a very dangerous tool mostly because of it’s affect on my own training.  I was having a conversation with a runner-friend of mine the other day about how Strava can affect training in general.  We agreed that we’ve both been caught up in outdoing each other and other runners in the Mac Forest, striving for various Strava-designated course records and KOM’s (King of the Mtn), consequently doing neither of us any good for our own overall individual training plans.  There are certain Strava “segments” in the Mac Forest that, regardless of the prescribed workout for the day, I’ll go after to break and try to set the fastest time, thus disrespecting the original training plan for that day.  Call it silly but for me and my addictive nature I just cannot handle Strava, it’s just too much.

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View from Dimple Hill yesterday morning.  I love to take pictures while running.  While having my phone on me during runs there’s one caveat that I stick to:  AIRPLANE MODE 🙂

7:30PM – Continuing on the social media purge…Facebook had to go from my phone (Messenger too).  I like Facebook for several reasons but to have it on my phone was a bit much.  On my laptop it’s fine because I feel like I have a better grasp of how to handle my relationship with it.

Today during most of my activities, running, driving, cooking, resting, stretching, foam-rolling, I held closely a notion that I am becoming more and more open to accepting its truth.  Am I the root of my own suffering?  My answer is yes and here’s why:  Ultimately I have the power and the ability to create my own reality, who is to say otherwise?  For the most part I get tripped up on this idea because of my default setting to dwell on the constant stream of thoughts that roll through my head each and every day.  Without being mindful the pain and confusion of my thoughts becomes insidious. Because of the affect of the ever-present narrative of those millions of  stories that I tell myself, I get lost on who I actually am versus who I tell myself I am.  Therefore, if the majority of my suffering comes in the form of illusions that I tell myself wouldn’t that incur that I am indeed the root of my own suffering?  Seems like a pretty simple answer to me.

Spent some great time this evening with some friends who are also in recovery.  I was able to share, in a safe manner, a profound emotional experience that happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  These friends are vital to me for not only supporting and maintaining my sobriety, but for a quality perspective on life.

Night ya’ ll, thanks for being on this journey with me.

Check out the blogpost that started this journey:  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 7: A day in the life…

Day 7: Here’s a quick snapshot of what a general day has looked like for me over the past week:

4:45AM – Coffee/meditation

5:30AM – Cook/eat breakfast

6:00AM – Post blog recapping yesterday

6:15AM – Begin day 7 blog

6:45AM – Foam rolling/stretching/listen to Ben Greenfield podcast

7:45AM – Electric for Life Podcast / turn phone on, schedule meetings, emails, texts, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

9:00 AM – Phone – airplane mode / morning run

12:00PM – Ice bath

12:15PM – Recovery smoothie / lunch

12:30PM – Chill / read / light nap

2:00PM – Tea / turn phone on / work, emails, texts / remove Facebook and Twitter from phone

2:45PM – Meditation

3:00PM – Client call

4:00PM – Turn off phone / grocery shopping

4:30PM – Afternoon run

5:30PM – Lifting/strength w/ Jordan

7:00PM – Dinner

7:30PM – Stretch/foam-roll/compression/X-files episode

8:30PM – Meditation / magnesium / read

9:15PM – Lights out

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