As I talk to more people about this whole thyroid thing, the more panic and horror sets in. The reoccurring fantastical image in my mind is waking up from a foggy, drugged sleep, only to realize with the sheerest of visceral terror that someone or someTHING has slashed into my neck and stolen one of my organs while I was sleeping (I MAY be watching too many “X-Files” reruns, but still…).
Even though it’s perfectly logical and I know it has to happen, I am freaked out. I can’t help it. I am trying to do what I can to lull myself into states of calm, to cure these painful, fearful feelings, to get used to the change that is about to occur.
I started going back to yoga, both vinyasa flow and restorative practices, focusing my breath, quieting my mind. I’ve learned to carry these practices with me, the mindset, in my daily life, and also, to recognize it in other things that I do.
I’m a runner. I’ve always loved the solitary simplicity, the strength and the fire I get from being out there in the open air, relying on my own two feet to carry me anywhere. The other day, as I was running, even though I’d thought this before, I really realized that running IS meditation, if done properly.
When you become fit as a runner, it’s not the muscle in your legs that carries you great distances, it’s your heart, lungs, and the rhythm of your feet. As long as you have breath, heart, and allow yourself to rely on them, you can cover great distances existing in a space of total freedom, peace and passive mindfulness.
Throughout my short-lived existence as a distance runner, I’ve had friends, coaches and teammates tell me I’m “fast”. I don’t really think that I am “fast” so much as that I am consistent. I keep a steady pace that feels right to me and slowly increase as time stretches on, as my lungs and legs stretch out. I keep enough “juice in the tank” for a one-mile sprint to the finish. I listen to and trust my body, I trust the rhythms of my feet to drum out the right pace for that time.
Running’s one of the few times when life’s crummy moments can’t get to me. I’ve used it to get through so many things. Sometimes a conundrum calls for a slower, thoughtful run, and sometimes anger or worry lead me to sprint out my anxiety. Other times, digging into a steep up-and-over hill workout can be like sticking a pin into the very center of my deepest pain or sadness and relieving the pressure. And when I don’t want to think at all, running breakneck downhill without stepping on any cracks helps me focus on my feet, and less on anything else.
A lot of people try to muscle a run, or try to fight it, but if you relax and trust your body, it becomes an experience, an opportunity for focus and betterment. You can run fast or take it slow, knowing that your body is strong and it is meant to do this. It takes time to “get out of your head” on a run, but, when it happens, it is the best feeling, ever. It is cleansing, rejuvenating and a beautiful opportunity to breathe and embrace living.
Trust yourself, and follow your heart.