I mentioned on Twitter that this was my song for the year. Sure – its a little dark and loud, but its powerful and without some pain, life is but a dream.
First post of 2015, right? Say something profound that will reiterate the need for resolutions, goals and achievement, to justify your endless pursuit of things, finish lines, medals and likes on Instagram?
This seems appropriate.
Most of us are familiar with the Western approach to exercise: goal-oriented, intense, specialised. The core assumption in “yang” exercise is that exertion equals results.
And results = happiness, right?
I was that person for so long, and I deal with people like this all the time. Having my public persona as open as I do, people like to make assumptions and think they understand the motivations behind what I am doing, currently.
The average conversation I have is “what are you training for” related with people I haven’t seen in a while and every time I get asked the question, I cringe a little more. Currently, it’s even worse because I have gotten back to training with a coach and people who follow me on Strava and who I train with are all throwing comments about “what intervals today dude?” at every session. I try and join sessions with others only when I don’t have too specific a workout to do, so avoid these things and I pick partners for the tough sessions who I know can deal with what is required.
I have a coach and a powermeter to enjoy a new journey – its called “rework what you believe is possible’ and it has no finish line – there are races I want to do well at, but its the process of getting better that is the allure. Learning new things, ways and failing along the way with its successes.
This morning, I read a great piece by Gordo Byrn. He is always on the money. Here are some of the best short pieces (and you should read it all):
Many people confuse pain, with the process.
Others, incorrectly, believe that they can achieve a meaningful life without having to endure discomfort.
The discomfort comes within the process. Specifically, with identifying, and addressing, our shortcomings and beliefs that prevent success.
The ability to see the world clearly requires a commitment towards radical honesty within our own lives.
If I can’t see the truth within myself, I’ll constantly be fooling myself with others.
When I feel fear and anger, I know that I am on to something.
I might be close to an area that’s holding back clear thinking.
Seek the truth beyond the triggers.
And all the while, even if you get it, I bet you want this all to happen in the next 15minutes. You want to be faster, lighter, stronger and master the skills quickly.
I am 8 weeks into this process of working with a new coach and I am just scratching the surface of progress. All the while dealing with the fear and anger triggers that are hiding the real ‘meat’ in the process.
At the other end of the fitness spectrum is the yin approach: internal, holistic, exploratory. Practices like yoga, Pilates, tai chi and some forms of dance and martial arts — all of which require full participation of body, mind and spirit — are classic examples.
Yin may not be a term the athletes who are nearly ready for 70.3 will understand, but it should be an integral part of their preparation. While I am not a believer in Yoga, Pilates, etc for triathlon, I am a believer in mobility, recovery and dance.
Moving with integrity, opening your arms to raise your palms to the sky mid-run, being aware of the origin of your foods is far more trail runner than Ironman athlete and as these things have become more important to me, I have gravitated more towards sports that facilitate the Yin as a balance to my naturally strong Yang.
I had more Yang than what my body could deal with long term and a step back was required. Yet, 18 months on, people still associate me totally with Yang, but my inner circle know how important this Yin is for me.
And that, is The Truth.
The Truth is about being purposeful. At times, like Leo says:
– Slow down instead of rushing.
– Pause to savour the current moment.
– Really notice everything about the moment, and find small things to appreciate.
– Be grateful for what there is right here, right now.
– Allow the things that are bothering you to just be in your life, without fighting with them, without pushing them away.
– Don’t allow little things to offend you. They’re not worth ruining this moment.
While there are sessions right now where its all Yang – I head out with a plan, goals, objectives, numbers to see and a success formula, there are also times, like this morning, where I dropped off the back of the group (I was chilling in the back all day) to take a photo of the surroundings. I was totally taken by what was going on, which to me was:
– A group of people riding up one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
– The rolling clouds over the Constantia Mast down into Hout Bay.
– The high clouds giving us a display of light.
– The privilege of being able to be on a super machine, with the best gear, to make it easier for me.
– The humble company I was having a chat with about life, about our industry, our goals and how we best split up our time.
– The smells of fynbos, the sea and the sounds of tires, gears, banter, laughter and air around my ears.
That is the moment.
That is the yin and between the two sessions there is a balance – its a moving average, not a finish line. The Truth.
‘When you live completely in each moment, without expecting anything, you have no idea of time.’ ~Shunryu Suzuki
While it is simply not possible to live each moment without expecting anything, and our lives are totally driven by time, deadlines, goals and the like (we are Westerners, at our cores), this is a process you could be focussing on – something which has served me well in the last few weeks.
1000 words and counting, I am going to close off by saying Find The Truth.
Be curious, be adventurous and be aware of your Yin/Yang.