I Changed My Mind
A massive life change will either unearth who you are – or bury you. It’s the big ticket items that become glaringly apparent. All the other extraneous life details drop away like dirt off your boots. What’s left are the things that make you tick. Fitness makes me tick. It’s my doorway to mental wellness. Whatever the mental shift desired – to cheer up, calm down, get creative, dispel anger, find peace – working my body gets me there 99% of the time. Other people paint, travel, shop, sail. I lace up my sneakers and head out the door, or roll out my yoga mat. When my breathing pattern changes it’s like a key to changing my mind. And that changes my world.
My wellness challenges of the last year voided any possibility of fitness, at least the level I was used to. Chemotherapy and running really don’t go together. The cruel irony is that I needed that portal to mental wellness more than ever. A conversation with Gillian Kovanik early in my treatment reminded me of the “So, Hum” mantra, the meditative breathing practice of pranayama I learned at yoga teacher training. It was the hardest part of the training; I’m not good at sitting still! However, my learning curve was steep over the last year. When things went sideways, I focused on the simplest, most powerful, most accessible tool we have – mindful breathing. Inhale “So”. Exhale “Hum.” The regular meditators are nodding their heads. The rest of you may think I’m off my rocker. What I know is that it works and I don’t need to run 10km to get there. Have I given up running? Hell no. I am a more grateful runner? Absolutely.