Posted in Meditative Monday

The movement movement

Movement is the new exercise. Exercise is pedaling nowhere watching the miles click by on a monitor. Movement is breathing the fresh air, nodding to your neighbors and feeling the sun on your face. Movement is dance. Or stretching the kinks away, or even mowing the lawn. Movement can even be lifting weights in a sweaty gym, but not for me.

Movement is physical activity, no matter how small. Exercise is a type of physical activity, but implies counting reps or miles and following a program in the hope of achieving a level of fitness.

I love the idea of movement. But lately, I’ve been trying to be a little more vigorous about my movement without slipping into exercise. I have some autumn goals I’m looking toward, and I want to be strong and capable when they get here. For me, it’s a slippery slope to exercise. And I hate exercise. If it becomes exercise, (pardon my French, NIKE) I’ll just never do it.

Last weekend was hot and humid. It was my least favorite weather. And for a Minnesotan to say it was the worst weather of all, is saying something.

I strapped a water bottle to my bike with the intention of cycling just a little bit farther than I had the time before. And I did. Until, on the way back, I ran out of gas, so to speak. My water was warm. It was hot in the shade. Even after resting, I had trouble swinging my leg over the crossbar without losing my balance. To make a long story short, I eventually made it home safely and was fine after resting in the back yard.

Since then, I’ve had every excuse in the book why I can’t hop on my bicycle for even a few blocks. I’d ruined it for myself.

The days of rest gave me some space to assess the situation. I hadn’t practiced mindful movement. I’d made the mileage the goal. I’d turned it into exercise, which I personally equate to mental, physical and emotional torture.

So I pictured a meter. At zero is rest. At the far right is death. In between, the needle moves from leisure to torture. The sweet spot on the meter is where I find challenge. If I want to continue getting stronger, I need to push past leisurely movement and try not to venture into torture. The minute I hit torture, I’m going to shut down — physically, emotionally and psychologically — I’d literally rather sit on the couch feeling horrible about myself.

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Torture = feeling too sick, hot or tired to continue; cursing myself because I can’t do what I think I “should;” playing mind games to keep myself moving

Leisure = feeling good to get up off the couch; smiling at flowers or bugs along the way; shaking off stress

Challenge = awareness of breath and body; gratitude for the ability to move and breathe; mastery of presence — finding the sweet spot on the meter

For me, running a marathon or training for the Olympics sounds like self torture. I simply want to walk a 5k without limping across the finish line. This is the movement movement. It’s personal, it’s mindful and it feeds the body, mind and soul.

Peace . . .

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Posted in Happiness Project

Blueprint of Happiness

September brings another year for me.  It’s the month I was born.  In more recent years this has not been a time of celebration as much as a time of reflection on growth, possibilities, and life.  It seems like the perfect time to create a Happiness Project guided by the book of the same name by Getchen Rubin.

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Every project needs a blueprint.  Plotting a project takes time.  You need to look at it from all angles, decide what should come first, and what is the best time for each step.  As it turns out, a Happiness Project is no different.

I used four things to generate my blueprint:

  1. The First Splendid Truth from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project
  2. A list I like to call “Things That Make Me Happy” — I know — creative, right?
  3. A quiz that Gretchen calls How Well Do You Know Yourself? which I would recommend to anyone contemplating a happiness project, or not.
  4. The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

..~~*~~..

At some point, I ran headlong into the conflict between what makes me happy and what I think should make me happy.  For instance, all the experts say exercising will boost my energy, suppress appetite, and lift my mood.  They also tell me if I don’t like exercise, I just haven’t found the right one.  I like playing with the dogs, bicycling, gardening, and taking walks; none to the point of exhaustion.  I have more interesting things to do with my time.  Exercise makes me hungry, tired, and cranky.  It’s right up there with doing laundry.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to exercise.  Moderate exercise allows me to sleep better and keeps my joints mobile.  And doing laundry keeps me looking and smelling fresh.  Yet I’m never going to confuse either of them with happiness, and if I never had to do them again it would be okay with me!

By focusing on something I think should bring me happiness but doesn’t, I am neglecting something else that actually does.  It occurs to me that this is how a Happiness Project works.  I will be focusing on the things that make me happy.  If I tell you to notice the red things in the room, you will instantly see them, whereas a minute ago you did not realize they were there.  As I focus on the things that make me happy and the opportunities to create happiness, those things will appear in places they were once camouflaged.

I like finding myself one year older every September.  The temperatures are usually cooling and the humidity is dropping.  School busses once again follow their paths, the fruit is heavy on the trees, the garden swells with harvest.  It is a good time for me to focus on energizing.

Some of the harvest is swelling more than others.
Some of the harvest is swelling more than others.

Here will be my daily intentions:

  • Get Outside – That sounds simple enough, but some days I’m only outside long enough to walk the dogs and transfer from my car to work or home.  I’ll be making a point of getting outside to feel the elements, hear the birds, and smile at someone.
  • Music – I want to listen to at least one song that moves me in some way every day.
  • Run an Errand – Getting things done energizes me.  I love getting to the end of the day knowing I completed some little thing.
  • 15 Minutes of Nothing – The first step to joy in Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet.  This may well prove the most difficult action of the four.
Look at the free book I obtained while at the State Fair yesterday!  How timely!
Look at the free book I obtained while at the State Fair yesterday! How timely!