Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?
(Thanks for sending us your prompt suggestion, jessicadanielaa!
I am an absolute nut about endurance work and the endorphins that get generated from it. That’s what really makes me feel good and wonderful and rejuvenated: long bicycle rides on the rail-to-trail when the weather is nice, long hikes, long runs when I could run. I used to rollerblade 50 miles — two loops of a 25-mile trail. It was exhilarating because once your body reaches a certain level of fatigue, your form becomes optimal and you glide back and forth effortlessly. I love getting into a pool and working up to doing long, slow swim sessions.
I don’t belong to a health club now, so I can’t swim. When the weather gets better I’ll go back to working on my Chi Running. I have hopes that even if the Chi Running doesn’t get me to a marathon, it may help me fast walk long distances without any pain, and I think I’d be happy with that.
I can’t leave this discussion without talking about meditation. As simple-sounding and mundane-seeming as meditation is, especially to people who are new to it, it’s probably the most transformative gift a person can give themselves.
The human mind can do so much to control how we feel about the world and ourselves. Meditation puts your mind into a state of clarity, unclouded by the frenetic thoughts that invade our lives. And if you meditate enough, that state of clarity will seep into your entire day. It washes away fear and anger from the past and finger-chewing about the future and brings focus to the things that are important.
When I meditate I know my day will be good and I can handle my problems with a sense of tasking and not emotional upheaval. When I don’t meditate, I feel stressed.
Now that I live in a self-induced sequestration from the world, I never skip a day because I have nothing to interfere. I do formal sitting meditations several times a day and then do 5-minute breath-watching or mindfulness sessions throughout the day. Doing the small sessions helps me bring my meditation out of my meditation closet and into the rest of my life. The trick is to keep thinking about it all day “Am I idle or watching my breath? Am I being mindful? Am I letting my monkey mind take me to fictitious places?”
I would even venture to say that it’s the meditative mind in endurance work that induces the endorphins. I haven’t googled it, but meditation must do something physiological, because after several months of doing it regularly, SOMETHING very real happens to ones sense of well-being. Even though there are a ton of books out there on meditation it’s still something that few people have understood and practiced. I guess it’s for the same reason I never meditated before my cancer. Who has the time for such nonsense?