In a recent article I wrote for MindBodyGreen.com, called "6 Signs You're Working Out Too Hard", I talk about the importance of taking rest from training when your body is telling you you're overtraining. Well, that is sound advice when it's presented to the anonymous masses, but what if it's me that's overtrained? Would I be just as willing to take that advice as I am to dish it out? In many respects it's easier said than done.
It gets back to issue of humility, acceptance, and patience - the three values I am attempting to employ strictly as I venture forth on this road to physical, mental, and spiritual fitness. Shelving these values in any aspect of my life puts me at risk of shelving them in other areas of my life as well. Allowing my ego to get in the way of better judgement gives the ego leverage over other areas of life. If I was to tell myself to push through my symptoms of overtraining, what's to stop me from trying to take control of everything else I have no power over? This is where two very powerful words come into play and are extremely useful as a mantra during meditation, prayer or deep breathing. "Let Go."
This seems very trite, but the words can be powerful in changing attitudes and perspective, whether you are letting go of your will to God, the universe, nature, or supernatural power. Letting go means to surrender (which implies humility, patience, and acceptance over the things we have no control over), not to give up (which means to quit).
An earlier version of myself had significant control issues. My insanity led me to believe that I had the power and authority to control people and situations, which of course led to anger, self pity, and depression when things didn't go my way or how I had planned. Learning to let go was a key ingredient to my inner peace.
Letting go is still a daily practice for me, for life situations big and small. I believe that, subconsciously, what prompted me to write the article above was that I was starting to feel some of the symptoms I listed, yet I wasn't taking the right steps to allow my body to recover. Instead I was continuing the intensity of the workouts, and growing more frustrated that my pace was slowing a bit, and was feeling tired and achy. I was practicing Adam's will, not God's.
If you step back and think of how we wish to control certain aspects of our lives, you can begin to see just how crazy it is to do that. Did I actually think that by ignoring the symptoms and powering through an obvious burnout that I would suddenly and magically start feeling better? That's crazy, but it's also a default for a lot of people. I've seen it often that people get burned out and then quit altogether. Instead of "surrendering" their will early on and practicing humility, patience, and acceptance, they "give up" when things don't go their way. This is certainly the insanity I used to live by. And I firmly believe that practicing these three principles can lead people to more joyous, healthful, and fulfilling lives.
Today I'm grateful that I am willing to surrender. I'm grateful that my mantra is "Let Go" because it hasn't failed me, whereas my attempts at control have failed me many times over. I have never been let down by practicing humility, patience, and acceptance.