Sunday, 26 April 2009

Buddha Mind...

Just when I thought the slab of cement, that has been laying on my chest making it hard to breath had lifted ever so slightly, and I was starting to heal from the death of my good friend 'Tigger'...the Universe dealt me another blow. Last Wednesday I had to put my beloved baby, Mr. Cringely, down. We'd been together 17 years and his loss to me was that of losing a human friend. For those that don't have pets - I won't bother explaining as you just won't get it. For those who have pets...well, I know you get it.

The Cringemeister was my baby, my buddy, my confident, my supplier of unconditional love - well unless I went on vacation, then he'd only retrun my supply of unconditional love after a few hours of sulking. He is one of the men in my life, aside from my Pop and Jack Daniels, that has stuck it out the longest. I love him so much and miss him dearly. I swear he was a reincarnated human as he leaned toward some human tendancies - the good ones. I have many many stories I can share about him, he was such a character. Take for instance the photo example of his attempt to catch some rays. The fact that I was in a downward dog was of no concern to him. He was so beautiful...

In attempt to get some healing, I attended a Buddhist retreat this weekend, put on by my sangha. I had thought about going before losing Tigger, then after she passed I signed up. I felt the pull to go and knew I'd find some solace. Then I lost Mr. Cringely and knew more than ever I HAD to go. On Thursday night I drove out to the retreat in tears praying that I would heal. To be honest, I'm tired of having red eyes and crusty boogers from crying so much.

The retreat was held in Canmore and from the 'meditation hall' we had a gorgeous view of the Three Sisters (shown below). I could think of no better place to be...

Now you may be thinking...uh Suse, this is your blog about triathlon. Sorry for your loss, but why are you bringing up your meditation retreat?? The best way to explain is to share a snippit of a conversation I had with my sangha buddy Al...
When I got to the retreat I said to Al, 'I can't believe I'm not training this weekend...' I should point out that Al is an avid rock/ice climber and his wife is a runner, so he totally understood what I meant. His reply...'But you are training this weekend my friend.' And you know what, it was so true!

For those of you thinking of (or have already signed up for their first) half Ironman or Ironman, or for those who have done those distances but haven't quite had a great time, please consider this piece of advice. If you want to have a good race, start practicing your mental game NOW - before the race. Cause chances are pretty good that you will have a moment when your mental fortitude is tested in your event and if you haven't been working it out like you've worked out your muscles...well you might just be f'd with a capital F.
Last year I was 'awakened' to being in the present moment. Sounds easy, but trust me. We are not raised to stay in the present moment. Our jobs can demand we constantly look into the future. Our triathlon training demand we look into the future at races (that we have to sign up for a year in advance) and our schedules (so we can actually plan some family/friend time in all the chaos). So to try and do so when you are under extreme physical conditions can be a wee bit daunting to say the least.
Try taking this little test. Go sit quietly in a room, with no distractions, close your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how long you can stay focused on only your breathing without letting all the other thoughts dash back and forth across your cranium. Unless you have already been practicing the mental game, I can guess what happened. That's how I was too!
So for me this weekend was about healing, and part of that healing, aside from being with a loving caring group of people, was to meditate and to continue the practice of staying in the present moment. So instead of running, biking, or swimming I worked on my mental training.
I tend to do this too when I am doing the old SBR thing too. (Hence the no music, or tv thing when I'm on the trainer.) I swear practicing doing this made Ironman Coeur d'Alene the best race I have ever done. Which is why I highly recommend taking up some practice of staying in the present moment, whether it's through sitting meditation, walking meditation or even just focussing on what your body is doing when you are running or biking!
Oh, I do have to confess something though....although my mind needed this weekend for the reasons I've already listed, my body doth protest. By the third day, my low back and hip had said enough with the sitting meditation. (I still continued the meditations, just did it from a chair.) I realized I was craving to swim, bike or run. The walking meditation was amazing, but at about a tenth of the speed I'm used to!
So the healing and training continues. There are still some tears to be shed, which was made apparant to me when I was 'petting' some pussy willows this morning and started to cry because it reminded me how soft Cringely's fur was, but I'm on the mend.
The mind and body are healing... and for that I am thankful.
Peace out my glorious Bodhisattvas!!
PS I have made some progress with Tigger's Garden - I know she is with me making sure this happens!


  1. OMG, I want to cry too - my dog is ancient and watching her walk makes MY hips hurt. I know our time is not long for this world. I'm so sorry and I know he wasn't JUST A PET. They're family, hell, their nicer and more thoughtful that some people I know:) I like them more than some too. Sounds like the kind of weekend you needed and YES on practicing the mental game. You have to do it.

  2. I'm so glad you went on this retreat. You needed it so much. Though it would have been 'nice' to have you cheering me on as we initially planned, and Linda was so looking forward to the cheering lessons, we are both much happier that you took care of yourself first.

  3. I read your blog all the time but am compelled to comment after reading about your recent losses. I can't imagine the grief you must be experiencing, but when I read that your beloved cat died so recently after your friend, I couldn't help but think that they are together somewhere and needed each other there more than you need them here on earth.
    Sending you love and hugs and prayers...

  4. Susi. Sigh. I think that Keith said it all...Take care of yourself first. You have to when there are holes as huges as Tigger and Mr. C in your bucket. Somehow you have to manage to keep the bucket full and with loss like you have had, it takes a while for th eholes to cover over so you do have to be extra sweet to yourself. Tell us about Tigger's garden when you can!!

  5. Mr. Cringely was such a cute little fidge. I am so happy that you were able to share so much of your life with him, and to be there for him as he was always there for you. It's going to be strange to rewire your brain to account for his absence. My heart goes out to you, my friend.

    The tears and the crusty booger-face make you all the more lovable. You have such a big heart that is brimming with love -- I love what Anonymous said about Tigger and Mr. Cringely needing each other -- that is a beautiful thought. :):)

    I am glad that the retreat helped you -- like Keith said, that was just what you needed.

    A friend of mine that also knew Tigger told me this yesterday -- When he found out she passed, he was about to race a 10km - he did it, but he fell apart mentally and physically, he was so overcome with grief. His next races are May 9 and 10, and he told me, "My sorrow is my strength;" he is using Tigger to motivate him.

    I think it is wonderful that your garden plans are coming along. :)

    We never know who we will inspire or influence in our lives. I think that your honesty and openness touch more people than you realize, Susi. :) :)

    You are the best. :) :)

  6. Thank you for your beautiful post. The mental part of training and racing is so tough, espcially if you don't practice it, this is a nice reminder.

    I hope you are well on your way to healing, the retreat sounds very good. I'm sorry that Mr. Cringely passed away...ugh, it makes me sad to think about. Our pets are family, unconditional love.

  7. Susi, I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Cringely's passing. I don't have pets but know what you are talking about...what a terrible loss. I am so glad you went to the retreat over the weekend. I will try your exercise even though I already know I'll fail.

    Hang in there.

  8. moeder says its been a rough couple of months you have had.

    The garden should be fun do not forget to put in some colourful plants & flowers. As it always seems windy --a wind break of hedge trees might keep a chill off the plants.

    Keep up the good work!!!

  9. Thank you Susi! I will try your mini breathing exercises. If you can believe it, I do 3 deep breaths before bed sometimes and it does help. I'll keep it up.