How to Get Physical on Days You Don't Want To
Some mornings I am excessively motivated. I can't wait to start my daily routine of meditation, reading, writing, and exercising.
Today is not that day.
Part of it is attributed to the third glass of wine I had last night. Since I've cut out drinking for most of my days, the mornings after I do imbibe remind me of why I chose to stop.
My sluggish start had a little more heaviness as I thought about the 7 miles I "needed" to run. Yes, I had signed up for a half-marathon that was pushed to October, so now that it's July, it's time for me to put some miles on my feet.
On days I really don't want to move, it requires a mental shift. I think less of the physical necessity and recast towards a mental one. I know that this run will unclog some of the mental rubbish floating around in my head, so I direct this practice as a moving meditation.
Although Thich Nhat Hanh advocates "mindfulness walks," this is a little different. Eknath Easwaran suggests a brisk walk as part of a mediation. It becomes a meditation when you direct your attention towards a mantra. Here is a list of his suggested mantras, grouped by religious preference.
My mantra--or "mantram," according to Easwaran, is "sa-ta-na-ma," which is a mantram used in Kirtan Kriya meaning "creation, life, death, rebirth." I suggest a four- or two-syllable mantram to sync with your footsteps. It takes a little practice to get the mantra and the feet to coordinate, but that in itself directs your attention away from your mental clutter.
Then, you'll go out and practice. Start by a 20-minute walk, perhaps by an out-and-back course, preferably away from traffic. Once you get the hang of it, you can begin working with pace.
If you have a watch that can beep or buzz every minute (or if you don't mind checking your watch every now and then), you'll use these one-minute intervals as part of your pace work. For the first minute, walk at a comfortable pace. The second minute, quicken the pace slightly, and work each minute where the fourth minute is your "fastest." It could be a run at this point, if you choose. Then back off to your comfortable pace to start over again.
Doing this for 20 minutes a day is perfect for your mental health, but if you'd like to work on your physical health, see if you can increase by five minutes each week. In this case, you'll only increase the time of only 3-4 of your walks, unless you're a seasoned walker or runner. The key here is consistency.
Ok, now it's my turn to hit the road.