There is this oddity that happens (my dad would categorize it under the ‘reversal theory’) with growing children. It goes like this: when they are extremely young (as in 4-6 months) they feel heavier when you carry them than they do when they’re a just a bit older (say 6-8 months). Even though they’re bigger and weigh more.
The reason is simple, it’s because these older babes are carrying their own weight. Their muscles are strong enough now to do so, whereas when they were smaller and lighter, they just hung in your arms. Like lumps of mashed potatoes. (minus the butter and sea salt, which is a tragic shame).
This thought occurred to me when I was running this morning. I was trying to run my eight mile loop in my new cushionless shoes. But I ended up running 10. I couldn’t stop. And besides the shoes, I was trying out a new arm position because my pipes had been flying around by my chest pushing my shoulders up to my ears, causing some bad muscle cramps in my neck.
And the weirdest thing happened. When I lowered my arms, I became lighter and tighter. As if that one shift had pulled my body together in a way that lightened me perceptibly. And, as I said, I couldn’t stop running.
The self carry
I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I realized it was the same as the baby phenomenon. I certainly didn’t lose weight over the course of 10 miles, but I got lighter—because I was holding myself more efficiently and totally together, making me much easier to carry.
A simple shift—of the body, of the mind, on the mapped route. And suddenly, the ability to go farther, faster, stronger, easier. Holding my own self up. Look ma, no hands.
Image credit: dullhunk
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And since I’m a non-active lump of potatoes, I must think of the perfect way to apply this excellent advice to my art making and writing…
Though the photo at the top of this post kinda creeped me out (just sayin) I loved this. Been doing the same thing, but in a different way today. Maybe the opposite, actually. Today, I am trying to carry myself with consciousness. Which means that every time I catch myself zoning off into fantasy, which, as it turns out, I do quite often, I stop, bring my attention back to the center of my belly, and feel myself in the present moment.
This is not an original idea – I borrowed (stole) it from Geneen Roth, from her book, Women, Food and God – but it is working for me. Big time.
Now, inspired by your post, I am going out to get me some cushionless shoes of my own – so I can add this practice to that one – and, while feeling my belly, carry a little bit more of my own weight.
The picture is totally creepy! When I saw it, I couldn’t resist.
I love what you said…isn’t it so, so, so all about the belly? And coming back again and again…
I am so proud of myself because I’m resisting the temptation to provide gratuitous advice to lower your hips, shorten stride, reduce knee lift, keep your heels low and learn to meditate as you run. And leave those arms low.
You see, if I’d told you all that, it probably wouldn’t have worked because guys and gals have different builts.
Three little reminders:
remember what happened to James Fixx
don;t run in you slippers and. you gurssed it,
makesure you have fun.
Great post, Julie. I think most of us tend to think of serving in the same way: it’s a burden; it’s something I ought to do; I owe it to the community. But when you’re serving in an area of passion and wholeheartedness, it’s like getting your arms in the right running position. Suddenly service doesn’t feel like a burden anymore. It’s energizing. As I like to say:
“Service is not the rent we pay for the space we take up on earth. Service is the fringe benefit, the icing on the cake, the gravy on the biscuits (or mashed potatoes, if you prefer) of Life.”