So. I would like to start today’s post by noting that I feel awake and alert even though I am not fully rested. Because even though I got to bed at a reasonable hour (9:15) I wound up reading until almost 10. That meant that this morning’s 4:30 Zen Birds were not a welcome sound, and even the cat ,meowing and pawing me for breakfast did not wake me. I just rolled over, turned off the birds (but left the light on) and let the sharp stab of, “Ohmygod, Have I overslept?? rocket me out of bed.
I was better after coffee, of course, and my class always jacks me up, and then when I got home I changed immediately into workout clothes because the other day I read in On Fitness magazine that slow endurance cardio just ain’t gonna cut it if you want to burn fat (which I do.) Turns out you MUST do intervals.
And not only intervals, Killer Intervals.
Intervals that leave you gasping.
On Fitness featured this 40-minute Treadmill Interval Workout that intrigued me. So, before I sat down and let my tiredness overtake me, I decided to change into workout clothes, drink my juice, and head to the gym and give it a whirl.
I got 3 intervals (out of 12) into it when my engine sputtered, cut out, and died.
Really. Not a chance.
I am still coughing because I was sucking air so deeply into my lungs so as not to blat, I think I found a new level of alveoli, and they’re still all jumpy and stimulated and going “Whoah! What was that? Was that oxygen? Oxygen has never come WAY DOWN HERE before. *cough, cough*
So even though I abandoned this killer interval workout from hell, I did persist in a more Disney version that I invented myself: going out at warp speed (8.5) to the edge of death, then ramping back to wimp speed (3.9) to rejoin the living (and some chic on Bravo with a shoe closet the size of my living room. You ever see the stuff on Bravo TV in the morning? Wo. Who knew? )
Did that for about 20 minutes, then hit up the rowing machine to regain feeling in my shoulders.
Left the gym soaked, and glowing, and feeling positively TRANSCENDENT.
Why don’t I do this everyday?
This is what people often say as they leave yoga class: Why the hell don’t I get myself on my mat more regularly? What is wrong with me?
Yeah, seriously. What is wrong with us? Why don’t we do the things we know will make us feel better/great/fantastic: Eat right. Sleep more. Exercise. Meditate. Stretch. Take time for lots of mini-vacations? Why?
(ooh! ooh! I know! I know! Pick me!)
The answer? We are obsessed with accumulating the zeros. Yep. The zeros.
Let me explain. (I read this last night in Waysun Liao’s Tao: The Way of God and I’m going to paraphrase wildly here, so stay with.)
The author said to imagine you are worth $1,000,000. Now, take away the 1.
What are you worth now? Zip, right? Yeah.
Here’s what happens. In our zeal to add meaning and purpose to our lives, we tend to ignore the needs of the 1, (the “I”) and focus all our time and energy on accumulating the zeros. We feel (and are told outright by society and our parents and teachers, etc.) that the 1 is a “given.” So we taken it for granted. All that matters is how many zeros we can amass behind that 1: money, college degrees, promotions, cars, houses, trophies, successful business ventures, accomplishments of every stripe.
Somehow we have gotten the message that it is more important to keep busy stacking zeros than it is to nurture and protect the 1. But if the 1 is gone, what do all the zeros add up to?
The author was talking about meditation in this context and his point was that people say they don’t have time to meditate, or take time to be idle, or go on little retreats, or to give themselves nurturing practices like yoga or a good workout, or time off for good behavior because they are so obsessed with cranking out the zeros. And it’s totally ass-backwards.
But when you are on the brink of death (or just feel you are) like when you come down with the flu or something, and are FORCED to self-care, it’s THEN that you clearly “get it” about the unimportance of the zeros. The zeros don’t mean a thing if there’s no 1 to drag them around.
BUT, if you have a robustly centered and enlightened “ONE” in the front of your parade, you can start amassing those juicy zeros with impunity.
From now on this is how I will justify what I sometimes think of as a very self-indulgent lifestyle: meditating, writing, the doing and teaching of yoga and spending quiet time just staring at trees or sipping a smoothie on the deck.
Yeah. It’s not self-indulgent; it’s just taking care of the 1.