Set your Intention
Today was one of those days that I woke up and didn’t want to run. I wanted to sleep. I even wanted to call in sick to work and just lay on the sofa all day spacing out at my computer. Luckily, I was able to overcome those desires, got dressed, and drove down to the track before work to put in some laps. Of course, in the end, I was glad I woke up. I felt much better from the run and didn’t have the guilt of skipping a workout.
This conflict between wanting to sleep but forcing myself to wake up got my thinking about a talk I attended a long time ago given by a buddhist monk. I remember the speaker talking a lot about freedom, and how true freedom is the ability to escape our patterns of behavior. For example, if someone does something you don’t like, your natural pattern is to immediately become angry. Most of us never escape that type of cause and effect chain-reaction. Our loved one doesn’t call when they were supposed to, and we get pissed off. We get cut off in traffic and we get pissed off. We have very little control over these emotions. In that regard, the speaker suggested we are not truly free. We are slaves to our emotions and have very little control over our experience throughout the day. He proposed that through meditation, however, we can choose to have different reactions by consciously setting our intention and choosing how we react when things happen to us. So, for example, if someone does something that would normally make you angry, you could choose to have a different reaction. You would be free from your emotion.
This idea of controlling your reaction to certain feelings can obviously be helpful in staying on track with your training. Today, I wanted to sleep in. If I had given in to my natural pattern, I would have stayed in bed and slept for another hour. Then, later, I probably would have felt guilty throughout the day for skipping a workout because it would have been inconsistent with my goal of maximizing my athletic ability. Instead, I chose to be free from the voice telling me to sleep for another hour. I got up and made it to the track. One small victory for the day. Do today what others won’t, so tomorrow you can do what others can’t.