“True meditation is about being fully present with everything that is including discomfort and challenges. It is not an escape from life.” ― Craig Hamilton
Last Thursday morning, I stepped into Crunch, returning to my prior role as a Group Exercise Instructor, to take a new format that is being offered; one that I’ll be coaching. After class, I walked over to one of the available squat racks and loaded up the bar with what once was a modest amount of weight. This is the first time in YEARS I’m hitting the squat rack, and I wasn’t about to go one hundred percent when my body hasn’t done resistance training with heavy weight in just as long.
Once upon a time, I was on a drive to build as much muscle as quickly as possible to augment my yoga practice. But I’ve learned a great deal about strength and movement since then. While I am interested in developing muscle beyond what I carry, I’m not in a rush. There is a process, and I’ve come to savor it.
Too many times, you show up for a workout with the intention of simply getting through it. You put your earbuds in and hit the treadmill before moving on to the weights. Or maybe you’re out running. Or doing a class. Whatever the case, the focus isn’t so much on the work you do, but rather the gains you’ll make upon completing the work. And so you allow yourself to be distracted by the music; you allow your mind to wander. You are not mentally engaged until you’ve finished the work you’re doing. You lack presence. And as a result, you fail to take all that can be gleaned from the work you do.
Think of learning a skill, or taking a college course. How much do you learn if your mind wanders regularly during a lecture; during a meeting; during a training course? Why do you think your body is any different?
If you’ve been to enough of my classes, you are familiar with my admonition of presence, of remaining on the mat and in your body as you practice. Long holds? Stay with yourself. Challenging transitions? Stay with yourself. The magic you are working towards doesn’t happen in its execution, but rather in those moments of intense discomfort and challenge. You build the magic when you’re present and willing to stay with the uncomfortable and challenging work you do.
This is meditation on the mat. This is meditation in your life. The peace will come when you learn that presence in the face of adversity is where the magic happens, and you begin to apply it. You are powerful, magical, and creative. Presence is the key to unlocking all of that.
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