Dirt in your skirt blog

Beauty and Nature

Posted on February 8, 2012 by Margaret Schlachter

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses
 put in order.”     

–  John Burroughs

It’s Tuesday and yet it is Sunday and Monday that I am reflecting on. Recently, I have been taking a lot of advice from people around me. Some of it hard advice and some easier to swallow I have tried to open my heart to all the capabilities in life and exclude no options. Rather cryptic yes, and maybe a bit profound. I have taken some time to look at some hard truths within myself, a task never pleasant or easy.

This is the part of training we often forget about, it’s the part that makes us the whole athlete. For years we can pound our bodies into submission, work every muscle to the bone but if our mind is not cultivated then we are merely good to be great that takes a full mind and body alignment. For years I have been working on this side of my training. The running, lifting weights, sprints, flipping logs, carrying rocks all of those things are easy as compared to the mind.

For years I have struggled with this aspect of sport. High school I was plagued with self-doubt and self-induced performance pressure ask any coach I shed enough tears to fill an Olympic pool. In college, I got my first help. I was lucky enough to have an assistant coach who was becoming a sports psychologist. I became her thesis. She shed light on why feelings hit when they did and for the first time I was able to put words to emotions. Try this sometime, it’s harder than you think. Identify the words and triggers that accompany emotions. Then college was over and I was now the coach, shelved my own mental training and focused solely on the physically and mental health of my athletes, until now.

It’s funny as I step back into really digging into my own mind, I also have vowed and executed rejoining yoga. My yoga of choice is Anusara Yoga. It’s roots are in Hatha Yoga with an emphasis on finding the good in us all and basically bringing out our best selves the perfect yoga to challenge a self-doubter. It also focuses on alignment and Anusara literally means; “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” “following your heart.” I had practiced for over a year weekly but let life get in the way of my practice. Last week I went back.

After two Anusara classes and one Bikram class in less than a week, I feel like I am pulling back into center at the very least feeling more open to the advice around me. This coupled with hours on my snowshoes on mountains and trails and a few miles on the road all converge together to make the “complete human” training for both the body and mind. One hand feeds the other and when my mind is at ease my training seems to take off and vise-versa. The convergence of class and time alone in nature both have led me to a more productive work life and more excepting and receptive mental state.

Back to the beginning before I started to ramble, so what is the advice that these people have been giving me? Well the first is simple to Love. Love is the root of it all. If we all spent more time loving everything around us people, environment, animals, and ourselves we as a whole can live a more meaningful existence. The second very important lesson, we can make change if we are unhappy in a situation but ultimately the unhappiness will follow us until we deal with it within ourselves first. We can run and run but if we are truly unhappy the first place to look is within us.

Those two lessons together are some of the root and part of the route of my training this spring, self-acceptance and love. I learned recently that not only would this make you a more “whole person” but also in sport more successful. In sport and especially in endurance sports when you are at last hour, sleep deprivation has set in, you are cold, hungry, physically at the point of collapse; it is within these moments that it’s imperative to be comfortable with yourself and love yourself or the external tribulations will marry those internal demons as they fight forces joined to break you. Those that are completely at one with them hold the most powerful weapon in this battle of the mind and weather the storm unscathed. Sometimes it’s within a yoga studio or on a trail that this realization hits.