I was in a beautiful snow covered forest this weekend gliding along on cross-country skis, temperature was comfortable, snow was in excellent conditions and I was fighting my mind.
I’ve been trying to train for a long-distance ski race and because of travel, health, lack of snow, etc. this has been a challenging season. Finally, I’m out in great conditions, feeling good and my mind keeps saying with every stride, “you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail.” Although it felt more like a clap from an old bell inside my head.
As Dan Harris said, “the voice inside my head is an asshole,” yeah, well he’s also a defeatist, an instigator, an alarmist and a lot of other sadistic attributes.
I can’t control what will happen in a few months, I can’t change the weather, my son being sick, or my car or body breaking down.
I can only control my response in this exact moment.
So while gliding along on the skis, I had to come into my breath, into my body, into the feel of each step and not let my mind race ahead to the good, bad and the ugly that may or may not be ahead.
I had to be mindful of each movement and of each breath. I kept repeating in my mind, “I am here, I am here, I am here.” My own little mantra to force myself back into the present.
After a long stretch of steady skiing where I had managed to only slightly muffle the clanging of defeat in my head and was still feeling none to present I took a pause. A good friend who was skiing just behind me (and fellow M3 meditator), skied up with a big grin and said, “Wow that was so great, I was just so present for each stride, completely in the moment.”
I tried to resist mindfully punching him!
Same circumstances, same place, same environment—different mindfulness.
We choose how we respond to each challenge. We can choose to be present or to lose ourselves in fear over some future event that we can’t control.
So if you’re in a work meeting, on a trail or just driving your car, choose to be present. Choose to be mindful in this moment, in this breath.