When I started doing Ironman in 2009 it was because I had set a personal goal to become fit and healthy. Too much of an unhealthy yet social lifestyle and not enough fitness activity had left me feeling sluggishly unwell. I decided to change that and chose mountain biking because it was a relatively inexpensive (I could not afford a fancy bike) and also a relatively comfortable sport. Being about 15kg overweight at the time made running really uncomfortable and I take my hat off to people who have lost their excess weight through that method. I always recommend spinning and walking to find some fitness and to shed weight before taking to running as there is less chance of picking up an injury, such as a stress fracture, which could set you back on the couch very quickly, whereas cycling has no impact on joints, the key is to keep a high cadence and have the right saddle height. While I digress, start with walking, then run-walking, and gradually build up the running, don’t increase distance by more than about 10% per week. I highly recommend swimming too and prefer the dams and rivers although for Ironman training I do use the Gym pool a lot and suffer the consequences from exposing my body to all that chlorine. Imagine what tap water does to our insides. A familiar refrain already on this website, the important thing is to get outside and move. That’s the start, the trigger, to a better you! I like this verse from the latest book I am reading, The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence, “Living rough in the wilderness is a salve for the soul. Ancient instincts awaken; forgotten skills are relearned, consciousness is sharpened and life thrums at a richer tempo.” We are not a meant to be a sedentary, cocooned species.
With the mountain biking came the love of nature and being outdoors. The more time I spent on my mountain bike the more weight I lost and the more I opted for healthier choices. I still had beer and braai on Saturday afternoon while watching the rugby but now I felt I had earned them. A friend commented, how can you eat so much and lose weight? It’s the exercise you see, period!
I needed to set goals to stay motivated so I travelled to mountain biking events. The races were gruellingly tough, but it was the training that was really changing my brain. I liked to train alone and occasionally with a partner, but it was the combination of fresh air, aesthetics of nature, beauty of wildlife, physical excursion, and the open space that began to make me see the world differently and helped me to change my perspective on many things. I did not change, I gradually uncovered my true self, and I allowed my true self to emerge. That is Soul Navigation. It is my belief that whatever we do in our spare time should be aimed at self-development and improvement.
Enter IRONMAN. I was bike fit, light, and just needed to get back into running (I had always dabbled a bit) and swimming (not since PT class at school). I entered Ironman. What a stellar event!
There is a serious amount of training that goes into an Ironman and I have done it year in and year out for eight years. As I have already mentioned I do the vast majority of my training alone and that is a vast amount of time to spend with one’s self. Perhaps some people are really comfortable with themselves and know exactly who they are, but for some of us we have hidden or suppressed our authentic self for whatever reason. We might not be consciously aware that we have been doing it and it may even be out of our control because we are influenced by so many external factors. Some of us might think that we know ourselves very well but it could be that our level of comfort is keeping us from exploring outside of our comfort zone. We often have attachments that do not fit with our true selves and letting go is just too scary. When you get in touch with what really matters to you, you may find yourself wanting to be free of the clutter in your life.
Take out the junk, remove the clutter, and what is really important you keep. Things, possessions are not important so you should only own what you need to do what you do, and stop buying and accumulating junk. We all know how we came into this world and how we will leave it (hopefully clutter free). This life is short and we should live for the joy of living and not for monuments or possessions. There is no time for cluttering up our lives, not if we choose to make the most of our lives. Soul navigation is a lot about introspection but ultimately when we uncover our true self it will benefit everyone in our lives, we become more empathetic, authentic people, and then we bring our good energy to others and become a positive influence in the lives of others, setting an example for others while planting the seeds of awakening. Soul Navigation leads to waking up!
Finding your true nature and living your best life is what’s important and to do that you cannot be distracted by outside influences such as consumerism, chasing money (greed), or other meaningless and mindless distractions. TV is a big one. As Roger Waters sang on The Wall album, I’ve got thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from (only 13 back then? Wow!). When I listened to that song as a kid I thought, thirteen channels, Wow! We only had two or three back then, now it is out of control. Very few of them will help you grow.
I don’t care what religious beliefs people have, but in Christianity the Bible tells us to turn away from things of the world which are evil and turn towards God, our true nature, in Buddhism followers follow a path of enlightenment that leads away from materialism. Jesus and Buddha led their followers by this example. Finding your true nature, being one with your creator, being one with nature, spiritual enlightenment, or whichever path you choose to follow in that respect, is surely going to lead to a more fulfilled life than simply accepting what is dished up on a plate in our modern world. Sometimes I ponder that people who still live ancient or primitive lifestyles, despite all of the hardships, are happier than those living in the fast paced technological age. The more stuff you have the more there is to worry about. I am not suggesting that we go back to being primitive but rather that we use technology for the good and work with nature to live in harmony with it. It is either that or damnation quite frankly. Some people like to believe that damnation is inevitable. I would prefer that we strive to make this miracle planet heaven on earth. Destroying the planet for greed is nonsensical and yet the dumbed down masses accept what is happening to our world. If more people stop consuming excessively and adopt a minimalistic lifestyle we will turn this world around. Hearts and minds need to be awakened to this reality and this will only happen if we stop allowing ourselves to be so easily distracted. I mean, should we care what the gossip columns say? We are teetering on the brink and there is a tipping point.
There are a lot of people doing good work to try and save our planet and if everyone (or at least a lot of people) awakens to what is going on and intentionally changes the way they live, we have a chance.
Am I saying that I think this way because of IRONMAN? Is this the Marvel Superhero IRONMAN who is going to save the world?
No, but people waking up is the only thing that is going to save it. Spending a lot of time outside and pushing yourself physically will heighten your senses, and you may find that things become clearer. Here are some of the things you can do to make a significant difference.
- Stop buying junk and recycle some of your old junk
De-clutter your living space by getting rid of what you don’t need and make a conscious effort not to accumulate stuff.
- Stop supporting industries that do harm to the environment
I know, there are a lot of them. From animal agriculture, or rather the meat production industry, to anyone who produces plastic. Start with meat free Mondays and then gradually work your way through the week.
- Minimise or stop your use of plastic bags and products
Plastic is non-biodegradable and it end up in landfills, in our oceans, or in the intestines of wildlife and domestic animals.
- Drive less and walk or cycle more
Baby steps, every bit helps
- Minimise your use of electricity or go completely off grid
Again, baby steps, every bit helps. Switch to solar energy or energy efficient globes for example. No TV would also lead to less consumption. Read books or play board games instead.
- Purify tap water rather than buy bottled water
Minimise plastic packaging consumption
- Don’t waste water
This is the most precious resource on the planet and we need to use sparingly. So much of it is wasted on meat production already.
Some do, some don’t, and in some areas it requires a bit more effort but it is an absolute no brainer.
- Make compost and grow your own organic vegetables
Herbicides, pesticides, packaging, GMO are a few good reasons to dig the veggie garden. If you don’t have space source from a local organic farmer
- Be Healthy
Know your food source. Organically grown or raised is best. Get fit or keep fit, take time out to relax, spend quality time with loved ones, work on yourself constantly and find ways to give back, look after the animals, the environment and each other.
Find your true grit. Stop looking at what is superficial and look for what is real. Find your true self. Be part of the cure and not part of the disease.
Good luck to everyone who has challenged themselves to complete the IRONMAN AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIP this coming weekend. May you all find what you’re looking for.