FITNESS AND WELLNESS
Finding a Quiet Place in One’s Center
(Editors’ note: we welcome Joey Schnople to our Fitness and Wellness Column. We look forward to learning from him.)
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom – Viktor Frankl
I am a coach. I work with people to help them achieve their goals by better managing their resources and their mindset. The tools we choose for this process will vary from person to person: a personalized yoga practice, Zazen meditation, process design, basic goal setting, and more all have a place. Regardless of the tool we choose, all serve to develop one’s health, defined as “the ability of individuals or communities to adapt and self-manage when facing physical, mental, psychological, and social changes.” Given this, I’d like to tell what may seem to be an odd story. Stay with me for a minute.
The other day I was reading an article about a risotto dish, which finished with “a drift of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice against the heft.” It was a wonderful image of detail and balance. Strangely enough, it immediately reminded me of a Chevy truck commercial I saw the night before. The tone couldn’t have been more different from that of the recipe; one admirer said the truck “just looked mean.” Two very different feels here. Left coast and heartland, if you will. That difference really struck me. Here’s why.
Often, we define ourselves by defining what we do and do not like. Preferring either Bordeaux or Budweiser doesn’t need to mean anything at all about who we are as human beings. The reality, however, is that these choices often serve as a proxy for our sense of identity. We tend to choose sides, restricting ourselves to a narrow definition of ourselves. This narrow definition determines, by extension, what we can and cannot do with our lives. Just like you might reflexively say “I’m not into burly trucks” or “I’m not into fancy risotto,” you might also see an opportunity for a new experience but think to yourself “Oh, that’s not me…” It is incredibly easy to move on this familiar autopilot. We miss much of what the world offers, and we subsequently become unbalanced, unhappy, and unhealthy.
Speaking of health, there is great value in developing a quiet place in our own center, because by quieting our mind we develop the clarity to know who we are and what we can achieve, independent of these reflexive habits. The process is not difficult per se, but it does take time, patience, and practice. In exchange is a profound impact on every area of your life, from simple goal setting to anger management.
The experience of this change is why I do what I do. For a variety of reasons, I have spent much of my life feeling like a pinball. I have developed habits of reacting quickly, often impulsively, and occasionally with terrible judgment, to whatever life has thrown my way. It’s been a decent enough survival skill, but my long-term peace of mind has suffered. Developing a personal practice that allows all of that to quiet has been one of the most meaningful changes I have ever made.
Over the next few months I hope to share some of that story with you, and I look forward to offering thoughts on how to improve health, be more centered, and be more intentional in all aspects of life. Thanks for reading.