I was out on a run this morning with my husband, and I was struggling physically. Something has been off in my right ankle and it leaves my gait a little uncomfortable and a little wonky. Interestingly enough, the physical experience pales in comparison to the disruptions I was encountering in my mind.
I watched as my thoughts initially went to worst case scenarios. How I wouldn’t be able to run in an upcoming road race, or how I wouldn’t be able to hike next weekend. When that settled, it landed on a tsunami of explanations and justifications, all the things I was going to say to my husband after the run, about why I was running so slow.
Believe it or not, this is one of the main reasons that I love to be physical: Because of the opportunities it gives me to see just what my mind is up to under duress. What it does when things are not easy, comfortable or working out the way I need them to. So while we all know the benefits of moving the body, I think one of the unsung heroes here is the chance to get to know yourself at a very deep level.
What it is that you fear. Where you limit yourself. How often you compare yourself and what is happening to you against the expectations of others. I could go on and on about all the discoveries I have made over the years, but suffice to say, to move your body is to know yourself; in ways you will never access if you don’t challenge yourself, if you don’t get out of your own comfort zone, if you don’t discover that edge where body and mind meet.
I think we do everyone a disservice when we make moving our bodies a “have-to” based on avoiding some terrible outcome of disease and illness. In fact, look around. This approach is not working. Despite all of the information, and all of the admonitions around exercising more, we have never been more out of shape. Perhaps that is because, like so many things when it comes to how we are living, we are starting in the wrong place.
Instead of tapping into the depths of who we are and what we actually need, we get offered bubble gum versions of our lives and what is possible when what we need is a deeply nourishing perspective that includes the totality of who we are. One that goes beyond someone trying to sell us something. Or legislate something. Or scare us into something. Such small-minded approaches diminish the magnificence of who we are and what we deserve.
To be in your own body, and therefore with your own experience, and to move it according to your own inner urges, is to lay claim to your own sovereignty. It is to create a life based on assuming responsibility for your thoughts, your actions, and what it takes to live all of that into existence. It is a committed self-determination that says, “I will know my own mind and what it is that makes me tick.”