I have reached an age where walking is a fitness exercise. It’s taking some getting used to!
I used to be a runner. When my knees began complaining, I switched to biking. My bike has a fancy computer that tracks cadence, heart rate, average speed, and distance to assist in training. I’ve always found exercise to be a grind in the absence of a race or performance goal.
My friend Peter is a better biker than me. He never uses a computer and says I should get rid of mine. He says it disturbs his peace. He makes a good point!
I’ve balanced physical fitness with mindfulness for the past fifteen years, which I call, silent fitness.
When running, my goal was a sub forty-five minute 10K, in bike races, to finish in the upper half of my age group. Goals are taboo in silence practices, but I admit to having an aspiration, …. to free myself from incessant mental chatter.
Most of us identify thinking with who we are. This is mistaken. For instance, most of us have thoughts like:
-I have to stop worrying!
-I need to calm down!
-I’ve got so much to do today!
-I am scared!
If thought is what we are, then who is the “I?”
Wisdom traditions claim this is “Being,” other names include consciousness or lifeforce.
The difference between “Being” and thought is not a nuance. We must be aware to think, but we don’t need to think to be aware. This distinction is fundamental to emotional health.
Most (maybe all) suffering arises via thought. The exception might be experiences of direct physical pain.
Anger, anxiety, loneliness, fear, separation, and depression, regardless of origin, come to us via thought. This is not to say the thoughts are unjustified. Life is difficult. Bad things happen. It’s hard not to think about it. But, this is a case where we really do need to shoot the messenger!
Silence practices teach us to separate thoughts from awareness. When thinking troubling thoughts, we become victims; if we train awareness to simply watch thoughts as they arise, we become witnesses. That’s a big difference.
Thoughts, fuel emotion, and emotion creates “dis-ease.” When we separate who we are from thought and simply witness the thought, its power to control us fades. Once free of thought, we are unburdened from suffering. That’s not easy, but it is obtainable, and with consistent practice, the benefit is lasting.
My physical endurance has declined with age during the past decade. Personal bests are now beyond reach. The opposite is true for my silent fitness, which continues to improve!
My practice consists of three routines:
1. When disturbed, to witness what the mind is doing without judgment.
2. Letting go of thought and sitting in silence for 10-20 minutes a day.
3. Allowing consciousness vs. thought to define my experience.
My cardiologist told me life-long physical fitness saved my life. I feel silent fitness is equally important. If you are interested in pursuing this, get in touch, and I will share some helpful resources.
Fundamental Principle: Discovering the role awareness plays in life.
A Question To Consider: What happens when you pause and witness a feeling?
More information including background principles, suggested reading, and a library of previous posts can be found at http://tim-coats.com