Cutting to the chase…

Cutting to the chase… Pay attention
There can be no true health or vitality if you live a sedentary life
You may have the best diet and nutrition ever. Massage, chiropractic, TCM, health care , doctors, therapist, supplements, whatever. Not worth squat if you don’t get out there and move everyday a lot. I suggest an average of at least an hour a day, challenging yourself. I repeat you can not be vibrant and healthy and be sedentary. Ever. Break your damn addiction to comfort and living small and get with it

Getting Free

“The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune

One can live their life in such a way that imprisons or liberates..a body and mind that is clear and free and able to flow with the challenges or one that is burdened in a slump of painful lethargy, dysfunctional patterns, and indolence. It is a matter of conditioning. We are not free to choose all the casual effects in our lives, particularly as children, yet as we come of age the responsibility and opportunities become ours… to even choose, to some degree, our own conditioning. It is not about finding oneself but a dynamic forging of oneself like a mountain stream. Static becomes stagnant. No matter our station or age in life in a single breath we can change and or empower our trajectory. Cultivation via discipline and training is a beautiful phenomena. Seek out your own edification with diligence, gather those of like mind and intent around you. Jettison the extraneous and superfluous. Get free now.

The irony I’ve learned over the years: the tighter the discipline, the higher I fly. To free my life to the adventurous high-performance lifestyle I dreamed, I had to restrict useless, senseless behaviors and habits. Lifestyle freedom comes not from reckless inanity, but by calculated risks finely crafted through breachless barricades of discipline. ~ Scott Sonnon

Being ~Doing

How you doing on those resolutions and goals for the new year? Goals are awesome and have their place yet they come with a self-defeating shadow side as well. The cultivation of discipline is one of the most valuable skills you can have in life and a skill set I teach to all my students yet it doesn’t happen in a vacuum and a significant number of people were raised in a environment contrary to it. Even those who were provided the tools for self discipline from a young age can struggle. There is I feel a better way to progress towards excellence than a mere carrot always in front of you. It’s way of being, rather than only a external target as your impetus. Here is one article that touches on the subject.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/07/systems-better-than–goals-oliver-burkeman

Brevity

Another reminder of mortality last evening.. right before bed I received word a good friend, one of my best training buddies from my grad school elite running years died while out on a run. All odds were in his favor as he was of excellent health. Its a cliche we hear repeatedly but life is short, finite, uncertain even when you have all the odds in your favor, so we’d better seize it with all the gusto and beauty, love and kindness, strength and courage, we can muster… sometimes that means getting out there and going for broke with every fiber of your being, other times it means letting go and reposing into absolute stillness, like a high alpine aspen in winter.

In memory of Thom, your wit, kindness, strength, and most of all your friendship.

Thom striders

Seizing your days

No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.
Epictetus – Discourses Chap. xv.

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Arbitrary though it is I send you all New Years greetings and a vision for a year rich with vibrancy and well being.

Well said wisdom from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. I imagine most of you have thoughts about the year ahead, be they definite resolutions with concrete goals and aspirations or simply a vague hope of doing better in what matters to you. I am not big on New Years resolutions and instead seek to cultivate a attitude of renewal on a more continual basis. At the same time I appreciate the markings of a year and seasons to take pause and recalibrate one’s compass. The winter solstice is one of the periods of reflection and recalibration in my life. Winter herself has always felt to me to be not a languid or lethargic time as it seems to be for so many, but rather a season of transformation, like the womb of a cocoon. It is a time in which one can come to live more in accord with nature and one’s values; seizing each day with determination, fortitude, and life giving joyful discipline.

A common mistake I see many make in their intentions, amplified this time every frigging year to the point of pathetic, is charging full on with exaggerated strides and a punitive flurry towards whatever aspirations they have, only to crash into burnout and frustration, followed by excuses and quitting.  One should not feel too bad if this sounds familiar as our culture uses every trick it has to suggest to us that is the correct method for near instantaneous results.

That approach doesn’t work. It will never work. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for intensives and immersing oneself deeply into a practice be it getting in shape, learning a language, overcoming a vice but these are very periodic surges which can not be sustained. What counts, what works, is as Nietzsche said, ”…a long obedience in the same direction, there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” That is the essential thing.

So be it now at the start of this ‘new year’ or any time along your path, here is the best wisdom I can give you to take responsibility for yourself:

•Begin with creating a vision of what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to do. Keep it in your mind, write it down in a journal, draw a picture, put up a poster, all the above, whatever works for you. It should reflect your “life philosophy’.  This vision comes readily. What follows is the interval between this moment and that ‘arrival.’ The key is to Perceive, Behave, Become…as I’ve spoken of on this blog more than once.

•Secondly, consider, even write down what the core values and virtues are which will support your vision and what benefits they will bring.

•Next is putting it all to action. Frankly I’m not impressed with the idea that its all about ‘intention’. Intention is no more than a recipe setting on the counter. One has to start putting together the ingredients and cooking. This is where most people fail. They try to get in shape in a hour, learn spanish in a day, lose 40 pounds of fat in a week of deprivation, shift from the life of a sluggish sloth to a disciplined shaolin warrior overnight. This is not a life giving empowering discipline that will purify and build. This is punitive ignorance on a trajectory of failure. True discipline liberates. It will enable more joy, more accomplishment, more happiness. You should feel its energizing effect. If you are feeling defeated and dread you have likely pushed too hard too much too soon.

Incremental Progression/Kaizen: This is the means by which you get from here to there. Steps, usually very small steps are the means to the summit. Consistency, Fortitude, Continuity… the Long Obedience. Set this out and stay consistent, break down the steps. This is the sure fire way to move towards that summit and become the person you have envisioned. Know that it won’t be a straight line or always one pace. Keep facing that direction and keep moving no matter the experience of setbacks.

An exercise from the ancient Stoics you might find helpful:

Seize the Day

Morning ~ Begin each day as you arise out of bed with a Carpe diem attitude. Take the time early in your morning flow to set down and reflect upon a quote or reading to infuse your day. You might even consider some time in meditation to let it percolate into your consciousness. Next look ahead and think on what you want to accomplish that day and more importantly how you will be. How you will respond to the challenges, difficult people and situations, your own finitude, and any curves balls that might occur.

Evening ~ At the end of your day right before you retire to bed take a few minutes again and think upon or even write down how you did that day without loathing for any slips on the path. They are no more than fodder to produce improvement. Secondly, look ahead and resolve how you will practice and live out your vision the next day.

Here is to your excellence for every day in the year ahead. -Coach Sheader

Cyborgs

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Been watching, reading, as well as running with a few more trail and ultra runners as of late..kind of putting my toe in the water of that community and one of the things that strikes me is how gear/gizmo dependent and attached they are. Heart monitors, crazy watches, apps, pacing metronomes, ipods, gps, a rather extensive list.. when they ask about mine and I share I don’t use anything but the awareness of my breath, body, earth and sky, usually not even a watch, they just look at me with the same look as a cow staring at a new gate. They might as well be hooked up to a simulator because they really are not out there on a trail running thru desert or alpine landscapes..they have no idea how to move across or be in the landscape.. they will never know Hozho

Golden Leaf

A beautiful 2 days in Snowmass/Aspen running the GL 1/2 marathon. It was beautiful beyond imagination with parts wonderfully brutal.Great climbs, several stream crossings, dazzling aspen in the sun, screaming downhills, gnarly long dicy rocky sections, breathtaking views (it was high elevation after all but oxygen is over-rated.) With a low milage build up I ran conservative for the first 6, then set the hammer down.. so much Chi I couldn’t help it. Moved back up 50 or so places.. no walking (never any walking), one wardrobe malfunction with a shoe that cost a few minutes.. but finished respectively in the top 10 % of the race (1000 entries) and top few in my age group. Linda with only a few weeks of devoted training kept her pace and tenacity and finished with smile on her face.. impressive what can happen when you engage the mind.

Many think I just want to ‘beat’ people. Anyone who truly understands competition realizes your competitors are your best mates.. they are there to enable you to bring out the best in yourself, to bring out excellence, and for you to bring it out in them.. this is why when I ran and caught up to people yesterday I told them to stay with me.. I knew they had more in them and we could bring the best out in each other. All that being said even if I did that exact run next year but entirely by myself I’d still be looking for ways to to do it with more excellence, more power, more grace, more strength, more flow… note also that doesn’t mean I’d enjoy it more or less….don’t put off enjoyment.. be pleased with every effort.. for all its worth.. likewise don’t become satisfied and complacent either. Why do you think the Olympic laurels were made of grape vines instead of gold.

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