A year ago I took a life-changing 6-week class through my local county adult education program on meditation. I had tried meditation over the years with no success. Nothing seemed to "happen." When I finally learned (and I am still a total novice) how to truly quiet the mind and body, for the first time in my life I 'heard' my body. I could hear my heart keeping pace. I could hear my blood swishing through my body. I could imagine the wondrous universe of exquisitely orchestrated electromagnetic living activity that each one of us is. I felt myself alive as a living organism. I literally 'heard' my body.
Triathlon training develops an equally keen if different sense of 'hearing' or 'listening' to your body. Heart rate monitors provide intimate biofeedback on a central response in your body to your activity and exertion level. I will never forget the wonder with which I first gazed in utter amazement at my heart rate as it responsively adjusted to activity level, first as I walked around testing it and then as I began to run with it.
Through triathlon, I entered into an intimate partnership with my body. I learned that in order to pursue triathlon, I would need to not only balance its demand with my external world. I would need to understand and honor the demands it would place on my internal world--my body--and for the arrangement to work, it would have to be a partnership with my body. I would not be able to unilaterally "will" myself to complete these without the cooperation and consent every step of the way of my body as not only a willing, but an enthusiastic partner.
As with any partner in life, this would require me to develop new levels of listening skills with my body: I would learn to notice when I was fatigued. Was I dehydrated? Was I hungry? Was I insufficiently rested? Is it ok to workout or do I need to take a rest day?
The answers came. "You're dehydrated. Drink some water." "You need to rest today. Take the rest day today and make it up tomorrow."I would learn to notice 'good' pain from 'concerning' or 'bad' pain. An experience with stress fractures taught me that with any 'concerning' pain--and yes, you know it when you feel it--IF you are listening to your body, you need to cease all activity until it resolves or seek medical attention if it does not resolve. To continue forward is to introduce injury into your partner--your body.
I would learn to notice my body's "enthusiasm."
Was I forcing this triathlon stuff or did I truly love it? When I asked, I realized, I truly love it. It was in hearing that response not from my mind but from my body--my key partner in this whole arrangement, that I felt my commitment for my next Triathlon, TriStar Cannes, take root.
I often ask myself before a big workout how I feel, meaning my body. "How do we feel today? Are we up for this? Are we in?" In asking the question, and allowing the space for and honoring the answer, I find the energy field and enthusiasm needed to complete the workout. I am not alone. My body is right there with my mind. And of course, with the fun of Tristar, my spirit is leading the way.
This surprise development of internal listening superpowers has transformed how I listen to my gut, my inner compass and other people.
First, I take the time to listen. Listening to your gut or anyone else means you are not doing something else. I allow more space for their voice to speak. When I listen to them, I am really open to whatever their perspective is, rather than subconsciously hearing it through my ears, my filters. Or at least doing that less. #AHAInsight