I shared in the post last month that I was part of an online running club called The Public Run Club. It is led by a fantastic woman who provides insightful and brief daily practices like meditations, reading, or writing prompts, along with a daily workout – a running workout. Yet, for the last month or so I have not been running. Sometimes I go for a swim or ride the bike in the basement and call it “a run”. I’ll go for a walk or meet a friend to walk next to on the treadmill, and tell myself that THIS was the running workout. But I have been deceiving myself (and the truth is not in me). I have distinctly NOT been doing the running workouts as suggested, that are the main source for all the reflection and self-inquiry, and the actual stated purpose of the group. It’s a running group (!!!) and I am doing so many fine and good things other than running. I am reading all of the insightful pre & post run reflections and readings ABOUT running, without the seemingly obvious benefit of experience.
In his book “Full-Catastrophe Living” by John Kabat-Zinn, he writes that you can’t just read about meditation and mindfulness to get the real benefit from it; you have to actually Do It. He likens it to going to a restaurant, “you don’t eat the menu, mistaking it for the meal, nor are you nourished by listening to the waiter describe the food. You have to actually eat the food for it to nourish you. In the same way you have to actually practice mindfulness in order to reap the benefits and come to understand why it is so valuable.”
This is exactly what I was doing. I was paying money to read the menu, as if that was enough and just what I needed. And WHY?!?!?! Oh, for the love of all things, if I understood WHY I do what I do. The (running) coach Karly gave a writing prompt this week of “My current relationship with running is…” and I laughed out loud. This is when I realized what the heckles I have been doing. (drops head in hands) I’ve been the zealously independent, non-compliant, and rebellious me that will take any set of instructions and do it “my way”, especially if I sense my ego feeling a wee-bit threatened.
You might have a loud inner-critic voice who convinces you that you aren’t good enough. Well, I have an inner-rebel, who instead of saying I’m not good enough, convinces me to rebel against the rules and expectations that I fear I can’t live up to, or any rules in general! So, I make up my own (damn) rules, even if it is sometimes outside of what I actually want. Like I really wanted to ENJOY running again. I wanted to enjoy being outside, feel my heart beat strong, and feel that good tired ache after a run. I sought out a running group because I, Rachel Elizabeth Bass-Guennewig, wanted to run . But my rebel voice (who we will from now on refer to as David) tried to convince me at every workout that swimming laps in the pool is just as good, if not better – with all the popping in my knees- than running. David would boost my ego into believing that I was really “listening to my body” by going for a pleasant bike ride in the basement (where my bike is on a rack), so I can do laundry, listen to a podcast, all while “parenting” my children – instead of going for a 30 minute run outside, alone, with birds chirping in the fresh air.
David has been talking me out of doing exactly what I — Rachel — really wanted to do, which was grow, expand my boundaries, and live through the challenge. And for some reason, following the rules (that I am paying $$$ for) seems to be the biggest challenge of all. huh. So fascinating.
My rebel voice, David, and I have been co-conspirators for a long time. Sometimes his ideas, pokes, and proddings are spot-on and urge me to see outside the box, take risks, go in unexpected directions, and just be more spontaneous and fun. I am honestly grateful for this dear voice to keep me authentic. But. Sometimes, like to participate whole-heartedly in this run club, I need David to encourage me to stay true to what I really do want to do, even if it is going to feel like hard, tough, and maybe even humbling (eegads) work. I need David to just sit back and let the easily enthused and authentically excited Rachel lead for now; trusting a process, trusting a coach to guide me, knowing that I will still make it my own within the process. I will still be on my own journey, David, I promise.
The Meditation Mantra of the Month has been Svadyaya, self-inquiry and reflection. This last week has been a pretty profound time of self-inquiry. Who knows what I might have learned had I done the actual work of running. I am so grateful to see what I see now. I have a different take on what felt like being stupidly stubborn, lazy, or defiant. Good grief, there is so much to learn and see, huh? Thank all the goodness.