The Emerson quote above, which was our unison reading at church this morning, really struck me as I am moving along on my journey to better health. This idea that “(t)hat which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character” is one that I’ve long held true, along the lines of Buddhist teachings about our thought creating the world (and no surprise Emerson would reflect an influence from Eastern thought!). I believe that what we pay attention to- both with thoughts and actions- is what we manifest, and yet I have long fought the battle to focus on the positive and hopeful rather than the negative and fearful.
Lately, I’ve felt a shift in my thinking as I have started on a path of increased physical activity, and the positive feeds itself. But focusing on how I can excel in the challenges I have set for myself, rather that all the ways I can (and will) fail, definitely leads to more positive action. And the positive action, in turn, feeds the positive thoughts, and so forth. I’m in a good place, and like all times when I am starting to glimpse this place I want to bottle it up so I can access it later. However, I’m definitely also taking time acknowledge the negative emotions that the changes I am making have brought up in me, and am starting to uncover the habitual thoughts that have created deeply seated beliefs about myself and the world. It’s hard work, and often no fun, and leads to things like crying at 1AM in a partner’s arms because I’m exhausted from keeping the demons at bay all day, and them want out. For many many years I have let negative beliefs about myself and my worth dominate my thoughts- and that worship, while slowly being replaced by a more positive focus, has done some damage that needs to be examined and healed.
In terms of the purely physical challenge I have set myself, I’ve been rocking it. As of today, I have used my feet to travel 15 mindful miles in 12 days, and I haven’t moved less than a mile a day yet. I haven’t missed a Monday, and I’ve run a mile at least once every 3 days. This past Thursday I set my fastest mile pace yet (14:03). Today I walked/ran 3.1 miles in 47 minutes 11 seconds. I hadn’t set out to do a 5k, but it happened, and now I have a place to challenge myself from. On days I thought I wouldn’t get in my movement (a 12+ hours day at work, a date planned for the evening, etc.) I’ve, amazingly, figured out ways to make it work. I find it rewarding to keep going, especially knowing that if I stop restarting will be more difficult than “just” getting in that mile at some day at night. It’s a shift in perspective.
And it certainly is catchy. I signed up for a half marathon in September, which feels wildly impractical and crazy on the one hand, and a given certainty on the other. I have found myself having wild thoughts that involve a positive potential for continuing my mindful movement habit. Last night, after reading an article in Mindful magazine about a tai chi practitioner who, as a couch potato, vowed to practice tai chi for 1000 days, I thought- cool! How awesome would it be to mindfully move 1000 miles in 1000 days? And then I thought, who am I, and where did I put Michelle? I woke up still thinking about it, and so I said, ok- it’s a thought I can revisit if I get through the first 365 days. Because, after all, it’s not THAT long until the end of September 2016, which is 1000 days from 1/1/14… There is also something satisfyingly poetic about the idea of mindfully moving a thousand miles (beginning with a single step).
In terms of the data I have been collecting, the numbers on the scale aren’t necessarily where I want them to be. Yesterday I weighed in at the same weight (226.1) that I did on 12/30. My fat% has shifted down a percentage point, even at the same weight, so there is some small progress. I have not shifted my dietary habits the way I need to yet, but I have had conversations with my family about how we can all make this happen. I figure that if I’m establishing one healthy habit right now (daily movement), that it will be easier to establish other healthy habits down the line. I have a lot of goals- for consistent meditation and journaling, healthier more mindful eating, gaining speed and distance with my running- but I know that it won’t all happen overnight. I am changing the focus of my worship- and that takes time, consistency, practice, as well as right thought. And right now, I feel pretty damn good, and confident, that I’m taking each step in the right direction.