Training To Enjoy The Process
What a struggle life can be sometimes!
Sometimes, though, all it takes is a shift in perspective...
Image credit (Creative Commons): http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincepal/3633230337/lightbox/
"I train to enjoy climbing."
Not to climb higher. Not to break records. Simply to enjoy it.
This morning, I had absolutely no interest in running. (While I've run a few half marathons in the past, I've let my training slide. My body now rejects running much longer than 10 minute stretches...and even then, I'm huffing and puffing my way through.)
It was still dark and there was frost on the ground. I constantly face mental struggle any time I move faster than a gallop these days, as I run through all of my thoughts of regret and guilt over letting myself slip from my previous state of training.
But the thought crossed my mind:
I'll just train this morning to enjoy running.
And so I did.
I ran until my body said stop. I slowed to a brisk walk, noticing the sparkling dew on the field, the way the light fell on the frosted grass, the deer that ran across my path. And then I ran again, enjoying the strength in my legs and the cool air in my lungs. Walk, run, repeat.
My heart is still smiling from the experience (and my body, thankful that it received aerobic exercise).
I am fascinated by this: What if training didn't have to be a struggle? What if we viewed training (for anything - a healthier body, a more peaceful mental state, a better relationship) in a different perspective?
What if the joy was in every step instead of just at the finish line?
What if we were training to love the process of training?
What if our practice IS the purpose?
Keeping It Real
This might get your heart pumping and adrenaline flowing, but I want to add an important caveat here, one that came to my mind as I was running up a hill and contemplating walking.
When I talk about training to enjoy the run (or the process of whatever you are doing), this isn't necessarily about being happy and comfortable.
It is simpler to think that if we are trying to "enjoy the process", that we should walk when we're tired and indulge in the sugary treats when we crave them. This simply leads to a complacency with life, not a sense of engagement that fuels vitality.
Training for love of the process is like the love that underlies a long-term relationship. There are fights and feuds and tears. Underneath those difficult times, though, is the love that makes it all worthwhile. You feel this love, even though it might not always feel wonderful in the moment.
We run the uphills because it makes us feel more alive. We create - art, conversations, meaning - because it makes us feel more alive. We take on the challenges that may not feel so comfortable in the moment but that tap into a deeper sense of passionate vitality, so that we can truly feel alive.
If we have a deeper love for life itself, and for the experiences we are blessed to have, our "training" doesn't have to be a struggle.
Life doesn't have to be a struggle.
If practicing to be an artist, there is no need to be angered by pieces that feel like "failures". Instead, train to love the process of being an artist - and you'll find joy in every creation, no matter how "good" the result.
If practicing to be a runner, there is no need to feel guilty for not running faster nor further. Instead, train to love the run - and you'll find joy in every run, no matter how far or fast.
If practicing to be a parent, there is no need to feel ashamed for the countless things parents tend to feel ashamed for. Instead, train to love yourself and your children - and you will all feel the love no matter what choices you make.
Take a moment to think about where you struggle in your life. What if you let go of the struggle and embraced the process?