Morgan’s Fear of the Week: #50 Wear the scariest thing in your closet for a whole day
OK, I have a confession. This week I completely forgot about the Year of Fear! The week ran away from me and, before I knew what had happened, it was Sunday and I hadn’t conquered anything. Major “oopsy” on my part! It wasn’t even an especially scary task I had to do, it really was just a case of Life getting in the way. I don’t mean to make excuses and of course I plan on conquering this fear (I’ll just have to double up on my fears next week).
To “up the ante”, I’ll even make sure to take a selfie of myself in the scary outfit (and, just to clarify, that doesn’t mean a monster costume). I’m very camera shy by nature so this will definitely add to the challenge I’m setting for myself.
This week my fear was meditation. It’s not that I am afraid of meditation per se but rather afraid of the emotions and thoughts that come up with meditation. Paradoxically, this is exactly why we should meditate: to be at peace with our own thoughts regardless of whether they are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral (to use the three labels of Buddhist teachers). Especially since my depression seems to be right on the brink of take over, I was scared starting this week that meditation might intensify these feelings. I could not have been more wrong.Meditation actually did the opposite.
Meditation allowed me to continue my role as the observer of my own thoughts and emotions but not the feeder. It is ok to feel things but it is not okay to latch onto them because by latching onto them and feeding them, it morphs those thoughts and feelings into a albatross that will weigh you down.
To use another metaphor, thoughts and emotions are like fires. They burn away which is naturally but when we give them too much oxygen and fuel they can burn out of control.
Over the course of the week, I meditated 30min every day. Typically 20min in the morning, and 10min at night. I used the Headspace app for most of the meditations but not always. It is a good app, but sometimes just being mindful and mindfully doing activities like walking the dog or cycling or running, is just as good. As long as you are in tune with your breath, letting go of thoughts, and sinking into the present moment, you are meditating.
My depression is still below the surface but its not debilitating; it’s simply there. Unlike some of the other fears that I have conquered this year so far, I am going to continue meditating daily with and without Headspace.
This week though brought a bonus fear though: a 50k/ultra run. I have never done a 50k that distance does not scare me but the fear of failing at it does scare me. However, when Morgan said that we should do a bike/run trip up to Westport, Ontario, which conveniently is 50k away, I could not let this opportunity to conquer this fear go to waste.
My plan for the run was to go out at an easy pace and just go without any pace or time in mind. Rather I just wanted to enjoy myself and the scenery. The biggest struggle was going to be hydration and fueling, both of which I rarely do on long runs because I simply don’t need to usually.
The run was better than expected. I went out easy and just held that pace mile after mile. It was very meditative actually. I did have one scare when I ran out of water and fuel at mile 16 but fortunately Morgan’s mom, who was Sagging our adventure, came to the rescue at mile 24 with a bar and an extra bottle which carried me through to mile 32.
The highlight of the day though was not the run but Morgan’s ride. Despite it pouring through out the whole ride for her (my first three hours/26 miles or so were dry fortunately), crazy Ontario drivers (who are worse than both LA drivers and Phoenix drivers which is saying something), and a crappy mountain bike, she rode the whole way without music and a smile on her face. Her grit and mindset in the face of the conditions is truly inspiring.
I will talk more about the ultra mindset on the podcast so stayed tuned, but I am pleased to have crossed off another fear with more and longer runs to come.