Part One — The Breath is like the Wind
What produces wind?
What triggers us to breathe?
Sport Teaches Us About Life
As athletes, we learn to master our breath. We learn to enhance our breathing above & beyond involuntary action. Supreme efforts require a little help…sometimes producing amazing performances in the theater of sport.
We develop deeper inhales stretching our muscles and lung capacity to power higher intensities. We hone timing to perfection with exhales expelling every last molecule of air to create the biggest vacuum with which to draw in even more oxygen. We learn to use our nose & mouth to tune the volume and velocity of gas which has allowed us to extend human endurance to ever higher levels. We run marathons, race ironmans, compete in ultra distance events that take days to finish.
I became introduced to the power of the breath in high school swimming. Our school mascot was the bulldog but we called ourselves the Bullfish. Nobody wanted to swim the butterfly so I gave it a try — I thought, how bad could 100 yards be? In college, the distance doubled to 200 which frankly transformed it into an endurance event. The 200 Fly was a test of pace, rhythm, core strength and lung power. It was a magnificent display of grace and athleticism if done right. It was an embarrassing example of poor planning and bodily collapse if one done wrong. I liked that — the stark contrast of success or failure. Every great butterflyer learns to work with and be water instead of fighting and going against the flow like dolphins playing. At the same time, they make friends with fatigue and the sensation of oxygen deprivation starting with tingling fingers & toes, then spreading throughout as the battle with oxygen deprivation is lost.
Part Two— Feel the Flow
Follow the breath
Let speed happen
There is no need to control it
Running in Nature
Oregon has some of the most gnarly single-track, often wet & slippery with rocks and branches littering hillsides especially if a storm has passed through. Running with two big labradors on the trail feels like the purest expression of joy. Seeing them to run free is a test of trust and confidence. Dogs are happiest racing each other downhill through switchbacks at breakneck speeds. We simply try not to get dropped, turn an ankle, or impale ourselves on a branch. One must be hyper-aware and relaxed at the same time, not rigid or tense. This is indeed a peaceful state of mind. Stopping the stream of endless thoughts creates the emptiness that draws in new information just like breathing.
Trail running teaches us to let go and trust our instincts and transform fear into fun. Curiosity and excitement replace trepidation and fear and instead of slowing down for an obstacle we lean into it.
Part Three — Let Go of Control
Watch each exhale disappear
Awaken as each new breath arrives
As adults, we tend to worry more and and enjoy less. We are afraid of what might happen. We worry about choices we have to make. We become frozen analysis paralysis.
We cling to faith but our belief is based on effort which leads to thinking— On the other hand, building trust is effortless.
Trust sets us free from thinking
Trust replaces our fear with hope
Trust awakens us to life