Keys to Life: Releasing Restrictions
Deciding the course of your life is like choosing a show to watch on your favorite streaming platform. It’s ok to entertain almost anything for a trailer-length amount of time, but you must be clear with yourself about what you are willing to invest an entire 90+ minutes in. We can consider the power of choice when we create the life we want to live.
On one early morning in July, I decided to go on a run. I am not particularly passionate about running and only go about once a month, but with a little social media inspiration, I found myself lacing up my most runnable shoes and hit the pavement. I am not sure what is qualified as a “long-run”, but my business partner, Trippy, just posted an Instagram Live video in which he ran an entire 1.5 miles while engaging with a live audience, so I knew I should at least aim for that distance. Google Maps told me it would take 1.7 miles to get my house near the Nostrand Ave “A” train, perfect. As I started to run I found the movement of my body cutting through the wind invigorating. I ran fast and freely. I was jumping over sewers and grates as if they were hurdles, and I made wide circles for people walking by, a silent over-emphasis of my support of social distancing. I made it to my destination easily, a little too easy, so I abandoned my plans to take the train back home, and instead decided to run the 1.7 miles back home.
I made the run interesting on the way back. I ran up unnecessary flights of stairs just to run down the other way. I turned down an extra block to pass by the first apartment I ever had in Brooklyn. I knew this would ultimately extend my run more than 3.4 miles roundtrip, so I told myself I would take a break at some point. As I ran back I noticed how good it felt on the run. I was sweating. We were approaching mid-morning and the sun was starting to find its legs, but I wasn’t really tired at all and I was determined to run all the way back home. As I ran back the thought of taking a break again crossed my mind. It crossed my mind often in fact, and the longer I ran the more the thought came into my mind. I decided that if I was going to take a break, it was going to be when I was headed downhill, and this condition gave me something to look forward to. As I ran on an inclined street I knew that when I turned the corner ahead I would be on a declined street, permitting me to stop if I so choose. I knew my time to rest was not at hand, and being satisfied with the possibility of a future rest I ran on without any further thought of a break. By the time I hit the corner I realized that even though this was an opportunity to rest, what I really felt like doing at that moment was to continue the run, and so I did. This went on for the rest of my run. I would get to a point downhill where I could take a rest, and somehow the possibility that I could rest was comforting enough for me to me decide to keep running. This was a revelation for me. Usually, when I run or do any other extraneous exercise, the internal dialogue is often harsh and frowns upon anything that shows weakness, which is where I categorized taking breaks. Somehow, in me acknowledging I had a choice I was able to choose what option supported my big goal, even though it would cost me more time and energy. I had an awareness of choice that I hadn't before.
In the past, I would force myself to push things to the max. When it came to accomplishing difficult tasks, my inner voice was always distorted. I would put so much pressure on being as close to perfect as I could, I would ignore any signs of support that I categorized as “weak” or “distractions”, which was very unsustainable. The pressure I put on myself would turn me off from trying to do anything at all, and I ironically would spiral in quick and easy choices that actually pushed me further away from some of the great things I was hoping to do. Suppressing the idea of taking breaks in the past would cause my run to feel tortuous, and I would crash soon thereafter as those heavy thoughts set in. In the past, to continue to run would have felt like a prison, but in this run, I felt very free!
In this run, having a clear internal dialogue showed me I was not craving a break at all, I simply wanted the comfort of knowing it was there if I needed it. I felt safe and empowered, and it helped me make a decision about what was really important in my life. It is ok to acknowledge temptations and impulses, I would encourage anyway to explore what comes up for them when they search within. Before making a decision to either submit or reject an impulse, ask yourself this important question: “What is it that I truly want?” Outside of the immediacy of impulse, and regardless of the difficulty that comes with a big goal, you have a choice to build towards what you really want. Succeeding does not have to be at the cost of suppressing your impulses. You can acknowledge your impulses without shaming them, you can acknowledge all parts of yourself without shaming. If you don’t want your impulsive behavior to grow you neither feed it nor kill it. Instead, focus your energy on what it is you do want, and think of it as a great choice and not a great obligation.
When you consider all your possibilities and then choose the option most aligned with your long term happiness, you have accepted the task of reaching a higher state, without diminishing the other minor desires that life will entice you with. Stay strong and be receptive you are on your way (somewhere)!!
Quazzy has been leading meditation and yoga since 2014. A family man who embodies many personas, including yoga and meditation teacher, filmmaker, musician, and now author, Quazzy’s lifelong exposure to global culture and wellness wisdom has guided his journey into spiritual and community leadership.
He’s beginning to write the next chapter of that journey by launching the Running River Collective (@runningrivercollective), a non-profit organization centered around supporting Black Joy and balanced, healthy living for people of color. The Running River Collective is currently writing a book of healing that focuses on Meditation to help everyday people in the Black Community create their own meditation practice and create an action-based program for a better life.