Saturday, April 16, 2016

Starting with the inside work - Headspace

A footnote was added on the 17-04-2016.

I have a future event that I mentioned in my last post, the autumn 2016 Cardiff University Cardiff Half marathon, is now definitely my fitness 'target'. Over the last days my thoughts and feelings around getting back to where I was (lighter, stronger, faster around 13.1miles of running), have really crystallised bringing with it a sense of growing purpose. It is easy to suggest that I might be putting all my eggs in the one basket ,but a clear the distant enough goal works for me and I will be aware not to over endow the half marathon as the 'be all, end all' of my focus.

So I have a point on the horizon, and again there was somewhere else to start from my last post - the realisation of nutrition issues. Here is where the core of the work has to begin, my body will absolutely tell me what it thinks of running this heavy (with body fat) with likely feedback in the form of injury. To tackle the issue I tried the old approaches only to come to realise that I had to smarten them up. How? Well with some specific inside work on my brain itself - I had a lobotomy - I got some Headspace.

What is that?
Headspace is a system / app / technique for mindful mediation in a busy life{1}. It sits on my phone and I tap the app once a day to follow a series of 20 minute meditations{2} led by one of the founders of the company, a former Buddhist monk and circus arts graduate, Andy Puddicombe. Web search either the app or Andy and you will easily find / read a quite unique origin story to Headspace from multiple sources and outlets.
This time I am using mindfulness to recognise and be comfortable with my thoughts around eating. Looking to be more aware of what and when I put things in my mouth. No, it is not a diet app and I am not aware of any packs (series of sessions) on nutrition / eating specifically, I am simply using it to remind myself to be present in the moment and monitor my reactions to my habits. In fact I have had the app for a long time on my phone and revisited it periodically to try and form a habit of doing it (I had a PB of around 7-8 consecutive sessions), always seeing benefits but not managing for a string of 'reasons' to stick with it.

Thus far I have set a PB for sessions days completed (not that it is ever about notches on a post) and found that being generally more mindful has indeed benefited my eating... it has been several days since a chocolate binge (or similar). It isn't fitness work in the mechanics of running sense but in every other sense it is absolutely about fitness - fitness of my grey matter, fitness of my habits, fitness of my nutrition. Long may it continue, as 'doing the inside work' really should be at the foundation of most endeavours. Getting out of your own way is often the key to getting started. The balance that I am beginning to pull together (I have much still to do), is the base upon which I look to build good things.

{1} nothing in this aside about the Headspace app was inspired by anything other than my own meandering experiences, trust me a search for info on them will quickly show you that they don't particularly need my endorsement.
{2} the entry to Headspace is via 10 free 10 minute sessions, so don't let the sound of 20 minutes put you off trying it.

Somewhat coincidently Andy tweeted this on his twitter account a few hours after my post, and got me thinking about the tone of my original post. I was not in any way implying that I was using the app to become something I wish to be. The purpose of the meditations I tried to explain here are to simply be more aware of my thoughts through any given day and observe how they are impacting my choices and decisions around food. Basically noting the noisy habitual clutter of busy thinking that I am in the habit of using to shroud and ignore in the moment day-to-day choices. I am clearly not quite skilled enough to describe quite what I am getting out of mindfulness practice, but please don't let me put you off of your own discovery experience...

Andy Puddicombe (@andypuddicombe)
Headspace: less about projecting who we wish we were, and more about becoming comfortable with who we are. #mindfulness

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