The 2016 Summer Olympics are just around the corner, with more than 10,000 athletes participating. These top athletes are now deep into their training routines. What keeps them pushing through setbacks and busy lives is steadiness: a way of moving through everything, come what may.
Consider Sarah Brown, an elite track and field star: she was aiming for the Olympic trials when she discovered she was pregnant. But she didn't give up. She adjusted her training, gave birth to a thriving infant, and headed to the trials.
Sarah Brown held fast to her goals no matter what. World-class competitive athletes or new exercisers, in steadiness we'll find the strength and balance to maintain our own commitment to a fit body and a fit soul.
The Huichols may not be aiming for international sports competition, but their culture is a model of steadiness in action. They are steady in life, with their emotional character, and even with how they tackle a challenge. They focus on the task or activity, not wasting energy on negative emotions. Had Sarah Brown spent her energy on fear (which would have been understandable), she would have lost valuable training time as well as motivation. Instead, she stayed the course.
No matter our own goals, no matter the setbacks, steadiness gives us strength, and a sense of being in control. In fact, if we stay steady in the right ways, we actually are steadier.
When we start feeling like a yo-yo from all the highs to lows, we can practice these five key tips for regaining steadiness:
1. Nourish our bodies with the right food.
The Huichols knew the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet. Feeding our bodies the right food means our blood sugar stays level, allowing the body to be strong and focus on regenerating instead of having to work on rebalancing.
2. Breath the fresh air.
If you find yourself being pulled too deep into a negative thought or pattern, step outside and take a breath of fresh air. The air itself is an element of steadiness: even in the toughest of times, it still gives you life. Taking a deep breath helps mind and body shift to the positive, connecting with the steady nourishment of Mother Earth.
3. Walk in nature.
Walking is a key part of the Huichol lifestyle, an act of steadiness itself. Did your motivation fall apart during a tough day at work? Walk it off, feeling each footstep connecting to the surface of the earth, balancing and steadying yourself with each stride. Look around you to connect to the world of nature and all your relatives--the four-legged ones, the winged ones, your tree ancestors, and the sky. Connecting to the Earth is a way of connecting with the steadiness that is all around you.
4. Change the channel and have a laugh.
Sometimes it takes a little noise to quiet those negative thoughts and feelings, especially after an especially stressful day. Call up a friend and make a joke about the whole situation. The easy conversation and laughter will change the channel from feeling limited to becoming limitless.
5. Practice this steadying exercise.
All athletes have specific exercises with specific targets. Here's one for regaining steadiness. It's a simple technique that allows your emotional strength to build and stay steady, regardless of the condition of your outer world. It's a powerful balancing ritual for those times when you are really tempted to throw in the towel, feel yourself being pulled away from calmness, or are in the midst of intense and heated situation.
- Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed for a few minutes.
- Start by remembering the nerika, the doorway or visionary circle that extends out from your heart. Imagine it just in front of you.
- Now, visualize yourself in the center of this sacred circle. Take the time to really see it: in that center of this sacred circle is yourself.
- Place your focus there, and maintain it for long enough that a sense of calmness replaces whatever stressful emotions you were feeling.
- Breathe in a feeling of once again being strong and steady. Focus on that feeling of being balanced and inspired. Nothing outside of you has changed in that moment, but you have.