The Plight of Rest – Quit Trying so Hard

The Plight of Rest – Quit Trying so Hard

I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. We wake up in the middle of the night, and we just can’t fall back asleep no matter how hard we try. Or even just as bad, our body tells us we’re tired but then we lay in bed tossing and turning with sleep as just a distant memory. It’s frustrating and disheartening when that moment hits, it’s the time when we should be at our most relaxed and instead our physiology is as stressed out as ever. 

Recently, I’ve been using an app called Headspace. In short, it’s a guided meditation, 10 minutes a day. I’ve always wanted to be better with my relationship with my thoughts. Between the fact that I have a million thoughts in my head going a million miles per hour, and my natural impulsiveness, it is hard for me to just let myself be. The minute I relax I catch another thought zooming by and I go after it like a dog chasing a car. 

This app has helped immensely in teaching me simply to relate to my thoughts. To have a focus on my surroundings while also letting my thoughts pass me by and to just sit there and enjoy them. Through such a relationship I’ve gained better clarity, I’m able to think better, and during my daily quiet time I feel myself able to open up and become more readily available to simply listen to what God might be trying to tell me. 

In this guided meditation, a fine British chap named Andy shares a secret to rest so simple it is often overlooked. When it comes to times that we should relax, whether it be sleep, a day off, or even just rest, we try too hard. Let that sink in for a moment. We try too hard to rest. Kind of funny, but it’s true. 

The times we fall asleep are often the ones where our head just hits the pillow, nothing else.

It’s the hardest thing for us. To simply let go, and let be. I’m not about to go all Beatles on you and whisper the words of Mother Mary. In Matthew 11, Jesus’ only command for rest is that we simply come. That’s it. And somewhere along the lines we’ve turned this into a “To Do” list. I mean honestly, even on my day off I find a way to make a to do list. 

Along with this, the other issue becomes the struggle of mindlessness. Some of us are really good at being mindless. Sometimes when I come home after a long day I just want to turn my brain off and watch tv. Yet this is not true rest. 

When working with athletes and I tell them they have a rest day I still make sure to point out that the best kind of recovery is active recovery. The worst thing you can do on a day off from the gym is to sit around doing nothing. Rather you should still do stretching of some sort or maybe go for a walk. The same goes for our mind. Sure watching tv and mindlessness is nice, but if that’s the way we get our rest then no wonder we never actually feel rested. 

I’ll be honest. In my own life, when I simply come and not turn off my brain but rather just rest; those are the times that I am able to truly sit still and just feel a peace amidst any turmoil. 

Even for myself this paradigm shift requires breaking a few old habits and forming new ones. Yet the lesson is still there. That much like rest for the body entails a balance of being active without effort, so must rest for our whole being be the same. 

– Dave

Understanding the Relationship of Confidence and Humility

Understanding the Relationship of Confidence and Humility

Growing up with a christian background there were things I was taught day in and day out, and things I misunderstood. Such as; humility means not letting yourself get a big head, and for that reason confidence is bad. Granted, this is just a summation, but at the same time it tends to be the lesson I always think back to when remembering how I was taught such lessons. 

All this said, I could be misunderstanding what I was taught, but that’s the point. Humility and confidence are commonly misunderstood. In all honesty, true confidence and humility go hand in hand. 

Humility, as C.S. Lewis is often quoted, is not about thinking less of yourself, it’s about thinking of yourself less. This means in all sense of the word that humility is being aware of our surroundings and of those around us. Being on the lookout of how we can authentically live outside of ourselves and to help others without expecting anything in return. I know there is so much more than this, but we are beyond the point of this post.

True confidence is much the same way. It’s not about having a big head, being boastful, or egotistical. True confidence is an inner strength that gives an individual the opportunity to not worry about themselves. True confidence is a security that we can have so that we may look towards others. 

So really, confidence and humility truly go hand in hand. The security gained from inner confidence allows for others to look towards others as oppose to themselves. They both are entrenched in the fact that we must know who we are, we must understand our own identity and where it rests. Without that we will never truly feel secure. 

That’s it, no anecdotes or gimmicks. I’m not one to beat around the bush. I know this is possibly the shortest post in the world, but they are two concepts worth clarifying. They are both so often misunderstood, and yet when understood they can be powerful. 

– Dave

Random Thoughts – Installment 1

Random Thoughts – Installment 1

This past week I have enjoyed many opportunities to continually educate myself. It is one of my favorite things to do. I love when I find a good seminar or book that stimulates my thought process and encourages me to question what I am doing. Sometimes I see an area of change or I receive affirmation and contentment in where I am at.

This week I have been watching renowned strength coaches Mike Robertson and Joe Kenn as they gave their Elite Athlete Development Seminar and it has not disappointed. Along with the seminar I have been reading: Juggernaut 2.0 by Chad Wesley Smith, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and listening to a sermon series by Dan Mohler. Not to mention I have been able to spend some quality time with my wife. I guess you can say it’s been a pretty great week. All these have stimulated a whole slew of thoughts. In no particular order below are a few of the highlights:

  • Whatever you get your identity from is what will own you. I am not saying you will be controlled like a marionette or owned like a pet; however, a large part, if not all of your actions and thoughts will be driven by your identity. For instance, someone who gets their identity from a relationship with a significant other will be consumed by that person. One could even say they are near obsessive. It’s very important to consider your identity when trying to make life changes. If the changes we want to make are not in tune with our respective identity we’re going to face a real uphill battle. To that same extent figuring out where our identity is placed is a great lesson in self awareness, and can help us on the path of making changes for the better.
  • Mastering body awareness with the core and foundational patterns comes before everything else. This thought has been a bit of a paradigm shift. I’ll admit it’s a wordy sentence, but I hope it won’t diminish the significance of such a thought. I used to think the top priority was to get people moving and mobile. While these are important if we can’t even control our breathing, our core, or activate our glutes many mobilities won’t be executed well. From there, we need to learn and even master the foundational patterns with just our bodyweight, and this will significantly increase an individual’s body awareness. In turn mobilities and correctives become easier and more effective, as well as any other endeavor we may desire to pursue. To an extent, correct movement is corrective, but it must be mastered with body weight before even worrying about pushing it to the limit. Boring? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. While simple, this path is often the less traveled, and definitely not the easiest.
  • The most entertaining voice is usually the one that gets heard the most. Take for instance Donald Trump, regardless of your stance on the issue he is so polarizing and says some of the craziest things that it’s hard not to be entertained. And now look at how far he has come. In health and fitness look no further than icons like Jillian Michaels or Dr. Oz, while I can’t say I agree with all of what they do, so many people know of these names because of the entertainment value. I know a lot of us are frustrated as to why these people are heard while we just watch from the side lines, and quite frankly it’s because they are the most entertaining. If you have a message you want people to hear, you need to find a way to present it in an entertaining manner, and don’t be afraid of a little push back. Just don’t try to be something you’re not.
  • Olympic athletes are seriously driven. Talk about identity, many of these athletes live below the poverty line, and yet their dedication to the sport is such it’s the reason they are at the games. To that extent I love the olympics, but it’s hard not to watch without thinking how much our culture’s competitiveness is one of the drivers behind athlete’s winning at all costs. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s sad to see how many of these athletes, when they lose the sport they lose who they are. I think this may be one of the reasons Michael Phelps keeps coming back. 
  • Nothing like a change of scenery to kick start productivity and focus. Several times this week I have ventured with my wife to a coffee shop in order to sit down and focus on tasks we’ve placed before ourselves. In fact I’m writing this post at a local joint as we speak. Shout out to Newport Coffee house. It’s always refreshing to be somewhere else, get that change of scenery and be able to just sit down and focus. It’s too easy to get distracted when I’m comfortable regardless of what I’m trying to accomplish. I think this holds true for working out too. If you find your workouts are taking a while try to step out of your comfort zone a bit. Maybe go outside or get a group together. You might find yourself not just having a good workout but also enjoying yourself a bit more too. 

Well those were some of my key thoughts from this past week. Before I go I want leave you with this quote; “The day I stop learning is the day I stop growing”.

-Dave

Choices, Responsibility, and the Road to Growth

Choices, Responsibility, and the Road to Growth

Subway used to have a campaign where a little kid would be told all these things either he has to do or he can’t do. From chores and homework to picking out food at the grocery store. You can’t help but feel the poor little guys exasperation as he has no say in anything. 

He then walks through the doors of a subway, he sees the sandwich maker; lo and behold he is asked what would he like. Of all the things he finally gets to choose what he wants. The whole point of the ad was at Subway you get to choose what you want, you get to have a say in the construction of your sandwich. Such a thought appeals to our innate desire of choice and of control. 

Think about it, how many of us like to be given options, even if they’re terrible it’s still nice to have options. Having options is empowering, who doesn’t like to feel like they have some semblance of control over their lives? Although, I also believe choices are not just empowering they are also powerful. Choices we’ve made and make will shape who we are and we become: later today, tomorrow, and for the future. I think it adds another element to the age old nature versus nurture debate and it can’t be ignored. 

I know I sound like a broken record, I always tell my interns when I repeat something I think it is really important. We can take a wild guess on how important I think the power of choice really is, and it leads us to a scary revelation. 

When we realize how powerful choices are we can begin to comprehend the responsibility we must assume. To quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility”. 

Let’s be honest when crap hits the fan because of a choice we’ve made it’s no fun taking ownership, and it’s a lot easier to seek recognition when something goes well. Yet, I find that when I own up, take responsibility for all of my actions, because I CHOSE to do something, good or bad, growth happens. Isn’t that the goal? 

Mistakes happen, good things happen, and most of the time we tend to be somewhere in between. Let’s take ownership of who we are because when we assume the responsibility and realize how our choices affect us we can then seek to not just change but to continually become better. Yes it’s easier said than done, but no one ever said it’s impossible. 

– Dave