After a grueling day of crew practice, my son Oren takes a nap and then, in the evening, goes running for a couple of hours with his team. He then eats his way into his bedroom and crashes until the morning practice. This pre-race routine has been going on for a couple of weeks: row-eat-run-eat-sleep-row-eat-run …
He recently wrote for a school project:
I am from the ocean and from the energy of the wave,
I am from the stroke … the power of the oar,
I am from the glistening, clear blue water.
He found his rhythm and apparently he also found his rhyme.
I never rowed but I did flow. Back in the day, a perfect day began with a run, then a swim, and maybe a game of Ultimate Frisbee, windsurfing, and a bike ride for dessert. I loved flowing from thing to thing to thing, tapping into the endless available supply of energy and prana. I can still get it done, but maybe in the span of a week — not in a day! And I’d have to book a massage for the end of the week in order to stay functional. These days, I’m on an entirely different rhythm: meditate-yoga-walk/swim. Eat before 6 PM, sleep before 10 PM, wake at 5 AM. Nap at 2 PM.
It took years to wind myself down from triathlon-type-training to yoga, walking, and gentle swimming. But here I am. The yoga that I practice today is very challenging and is far beyond what I could have done at the age of 20, but it demands deep self-awareness and keen sense of rhythm to stay in the game. For example, here are the some of the subtle considerations:
The monthly yoga cycle follows the moon; on the new and full moon you avoid the additional gravitational pull by resting. The weekly cycle calls for a rest every Saturday. And the daily cycle calls for practicing at sunrise on an empty stomach. This means that your daily routine really begins the day before with an early evening meal followed by an early sleep schedule. During the actual practice, the most important rhythm is dictated by your breath. Just by listening to the quality, tempo, and evenness of your breath, you can fine-tune your movements.
This is great in theory, but on the mat there are many other factors that affect your body and demand respect: wear and tear, stress, food, and mood to name just a few. Here you must listen intently to your body’s signals and honor them, instead of just following your set routine. For me this is the hardest part. My ego wants to be invincible and limitless — not to retreat and admit. That’s why watching my son train with abandon is hard. I want some of what he’s having.
But, at the end of the day, he’s got his rhythm and I got mine. What my heart used to sound like and what it might sound like in the future are irrelevant. For now, my pulse is the metronome and I need to play to it.
Once I learn to tune into my beat and adjust accordingly, I could also fine-tune my radar to help me sense and adjust to the rhythms of others. Imagine instantly being in tune with those closest to you; knowing when to go soft and when to go hard, while always listening and on the ready to change the dance.
Maybe learning how to tune into to the beat is a lesson to bestow on young Oren. And if I ever catch up to him, I will.