Monday, 2 November 2009

You Are Here...

'Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.' ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In the past I was really good at living in the future and continually planning, or mulling over the past and dealing with regrets. In the past two years I've learned a lot and have been actively practicing living in the present. I admire those who can do this without thinking about it. I, unfortunately, am still in the category of those who have to be on alert for when the mind slips into the future or past.

I realized that in the past few weeks I've been slipping back into old, bad habits and have been spending a little too much time in the future in both my personal life and in my triathlon training life.

The good news is that I am aware of it and so am being quite vigilant with my thoughts and actions to try and stay wonderfully grounded in the present.

I meditate on a fairly regular basis. It's one way I stay in the present. While I meditate I focus on my breath and either recite a Buddhist discourse in my mind, or I just count the out breath. I always feel quite relaxed when I do this, so sometimes when I find my mind racing about anything and everything other than the training activity I should be focussed on, I stop what I'm doing and focus on my breath. Or I continue what I'm doing and focus on my breath!

I did this with my swim workouts last week and it was the most amazing feeling! While my head was underwater I focused on my technique, then as I turned my head for the breath I just focused on what it sounded like and how peaceful I felt. It really did help especially for the 4000 m swim!

I've really been struggling with my bike trainer workouts lately. I seem to be able to hold the strength and power up to the two hour mark. After that my mind takes over and there is a struggle to keep going and to stay strong. My mind is quite well versed in coming up with excuses as to why one should not stay seated on a stationary bike after the two hour mark!

This Satruday I hooked up with the SweatLab gang for a swim then a trainer session. I had a great swim and as I got ready for the trainer session I started the old pep talk routine. You know, things like 'You can totally handle a four hour ride!'. To which my mind replied, 'Yes, but do I want to do a four hour ride?'

Eventually I was on my bike in the garage with the gang. They have a great set up and play movies so I got to watch Star Wars again. I hadn't watched it since when it was originally in the theatres! Yes, I realize I have just dated myself, but hey, I got carded when buying wine the other week so that's got to say something!

Finally it hit. The two hour mark. Somewhere around this point I decided to focus on my breath. That's when a phrase popped into my head 'You are here'. Yes, yes I was here and the only thing I needed to focus on was staying strong for the current 10 minute interval. Then I would pedal easy for 5 minutes. Then I'd get into the next 10 minute interval and when my mind wanted to wander I repeated the phrase 'You are here'.

Guess what? It worked. I had the best four hour trainer bike ride I've ever had. I stayed strong throughout even when my thighs were starting to burn. It was great. I know my little saying helped me through, but also a big part of it was the energy from the gang in the garage. Colette was beside me and had a strong ride so I did my best to keep my cadence matching hers. It was fantastic. Many thanks to the SweatLab crew!

The next day I was in Canmore. I had gone out the night before with my buddy Trudy to see a movie at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and stayed at her place so I could run there on Sunday and perhaps take in another show.

I had a 1.5 hour run to do so asked Trudy where would be a good path to take. Canmore has several brilliant paths not to mention mountains and trails and the river...

She suggested the pathway that took me to the Three Sisters development. It had snowed a bit the night before so there was a bit of snow on the ground, and a fair bit of ice. The sun was out though so I figured it would melt eventually, which it did.

The route took me through parks, along the river and trails through the trees. It was a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. As I ran I stayed focus on where my feet were going, so as not to bail on some ice, but I'd also take a peek at my surroundings.

I could see where I had hiked up Lady MacDonald Mountain. I smiled and thought, 'I was there, but now I'm here!' I felt a lightness of being while I was running through the trees and along the river. I really do feel at home in nature.

There were a couple of times when I wasn't sure what path to take, so I veered off onto a trail. A couple of times it just took me to some sort of pumping station, which were stinky, so then I'd run through the tall grass back onto the actual path. I kind of laughed to myself and though, 'Yup, this is just like your life. Looking for some adventure so going off the path. Sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes it's stinky and you learn from it'.

Once again I was aware of my mind going here and there. So again I kept saying 'You are here' in order to reign in the thoughts. Happily it worked again! I had an amazing run and was so thankful to be where I was.

It's amazing what you can learn during your training that you can take into your personal life. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is staying present. Afterall, the present moment is the only moment that counts. So take a deep breath, smile and repeat 'You are here'.

Peace out my brilliant friends.


  1. Great post..I always "meditate" when I swim. When I run..not so much!I really want to learn to live in the moment more..

  2. yeah I am here right now, but I wanna get over do i do that?

  3. Thank you and I totally needed that..I know I will need it this weekend. I will just have to remind myself I am here and to not wish my life away!


  4. Nice to hear that you are finding things that work for you! :) :)

  5. LOL, Jenna.

    Great post - it's hard for me to stay present but I try!

    sounds like you had some great workouts!!!!

  6. Jenna stay tuned that's next weeks post. You have to stay in the present(this weeks's post). Awesome job Susi 4 hours indoors is quite an accomplishment!!

  7. Beautiful post Susi! I'm so bad at getting my head in the future...your post is very timely for me, I'm working HARD on enjoying where I am right now. Thank you :-)

  8. Awesome post-I have struggled with this in the past too but really tried to work on it this year-especially being flexible in the present when things aren't going the way you had anticipated. Thanks or the reminder. :)

    Als, I would like to start meditating but I am afraid that it will just be one more insytance where my mind is racing and I end up being more stressed out than before.

    Maybe I just need to breathe. Good advice!

  9. I work with elderly people all day long. And somedays I am stressed from life stuff like how are we going to make that 4:30pm hockey practice or what should we have for supper on Thursday...every single one of them says to me "Just ENJOY it." It all goes by so very fast and you need to slow down and enjoy the right now.

  10. OK, you don't even know how many times I repeated that on Saturday - You are here, this is now, don't worry about the 'next thing to do' just work on right now.