Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My 8 Mantras

I am in the middle of a physical transformation with an ambiguous ending. Thanks to the Weight Wise team at the Royal Alexandra Hospital I have lost a significant amount of weight, retired some chronic health conditions, and gained a great deal of energy.

It's amazing, really, how much more I can do when I don't have a spare 75 pound pack on my back. Looking forward, I am warned that to sustain such a transformation, I will have a different life. Eating is different, activities are different. I must shed my formerly sedentary lifestyle and find new ways to be active. I am motivated twice over to keep moving, as I don't want to reduce my portions so much that eating is no longer a pleasure.

So with my newfound energy and restlessness, I have been setting new goals. This fall I joined the CIBC Run for the Cure for the first time.  I walked it. And I wasn't even that winded. This past Sunday I joined Groovin' for the Cure at the Enjoy Centre. I got my sweat on for sure there. Which got me to thinking, what shall I do to challenge myself next?

I am also adding twenty minutes of swim lane at our pool dates. The twenty minutes goes by pretty quickly, but my restless mind needs focus. Most of the time I have my iPhone to keep my jumpy neurons happy But I can't take that in to the pool. Which leaves my mind wandering, too often on intractable problems.

I know from experience that my performance drops if I dwell on the unsolvable problems of life. I need to retrain my mind for the empty spaces. Some of my ideas about mind training come from my reading and practice of mindfulness (thanks, Kathryn Burwash!). When we train our minds to be fully in the moment, we get all sorts of health side-benefits, including lowered blood pressure. Mindfulness I believe may be a form of self-hypnosis but I find the two fields (hypnotism, meditation) to be too steeped in their own forms and terminology to have a meaningful conversation.

I learned from long distance swimmer Diana Nyad that she keeps going by singing an internal playlist during her long swims.

Then there's the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his discovery of the state of flow. This is the pleasure of being completely absorbed in an activity, and time disappears.

Which got me thinking about mantras. Again, the mind is taken in to a different state while chanting a particular phrase over and over. It is pleasurable, and for a while, time stops.

At least I won't be trying to solve the world problems while I swim!

But I am dissatisfied with existing mantras (such as the rosary and Hail Mary), as these do not fit my particular beliefs. I could set aside my disbelief to participate in the moment, but that does not fully satisfy either.

So as I did my laps back and forth, I asked myself, what is it that I believe in? Some of these come from Covey's book, Seven Habits... Reverence life is from Albert Schweitzer.
  1. Life is good
  2. Listen First
  3. Share what you know
  4. Reverence life
  5. Stand tall
  6. Food is lovely
  7. Leave a legacy
  8. Seek Win Win

    So there you have it folks. That's how I ended up with my own mantra. I've tested it out and at least in the memorization phase, I am indeed fully occupied.