Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Year Without Music

I have not listened to music during a workout in a year and a half.

A lot of people may read that and think, "So?  I never listen to music, big deal."

I always had music when I ran or hiked.  The only time I didn't have music was if I was hiking with friends so I could talk.

I liked listening to my music.  I could tune out the world and just get lost in the music.  Kept me from thinking too much as well.

But I made a conscious decision to stop listening to music on my hikes.  When I was in the last year of my Masters degree program I decided I was going to hike at least once a week no matter what.  That would be my self care for the week in order to not go insane.  I decided to take it one step further and be totally unplugged when I was hiking.  No big deal when I had people with me.  Very different when I was alone.

No music, no noise, nothing but me.

Being alone with my own thoughts for hours at a time is more difficult than I thought it would be.  It sounds silly but time alone without distractions means there is a lot of thinking time happening.  I couldn't distract myself and get lost in the music.

Being in my own thoughts was very uncomfortable at first.

Because I would think of all the negative stuff first.

Not a good path to go down.

Except that it was.

Not only did I think about the negative stuff, I was able to take the time to really take out the negative stuff and look at it closely.  Why do I think that way?  How does it affect me?  How can I make changes in my life or my thinking to challenge that negative stuff?

I discovered that having that quiet time really helped me work on a lot of my "stuff."  You know what I'm talking about.  We all have "stuff" in our life that gets in our way or slows us down.  Burdens we pick up or things we can't let go of.  I realized that with all the things that I was busy with was actually kept me from taking the time (or having to take the time) to deal with things.

I was taking classes about counseling, encouraged to take time for self care and in that time I took I was actually able to work on some things that helped me be a better person.  Kind of like my own private counseling time.  Certainly a lot cheaper than going to therapy.

The bonus part was that on many of the hikes, once the thinking took a rest I was able to appreciate more than just how beautiful it was.  I was able to hear the beauty as well.

The sounds of the birds.

How the wind moved through the trees.

The grass rustling in the meadows.

The jingle of my puppy's collar as she ran on the trails with me.

Rain.  Rain has so many different sounds depending on how it is coming down.  Hard splats, soft pitter patters, drizzles that collect on the leaves and then fall to the ground.

How quiet it gets on a foggy morning, everything is so still.

This year I started training for triathlons and continued working out with no music.  Most triathlons won't let you have headphones in during the bike ride and sometimes the run as well.  Can't wear them in the water either so I figured I should just keep working out without the music.  The only exception has been when I'm on the stationary bike or the treadmill at the YMCA.  Then I watch TV shows while I people watch.  Keeps things interesting while I'm working hard and not going anywhere.

Swimming has become where I don't think.  Mostly because I am too busy thinking about all the things I am supposed to be doing.  You know, so I don't drown.  :-)

Biking is just getting funner and funner!  I loved riding my bike when I was a kid and that love is coming back the more confident I become.  I still have to work hard to go fast or get up hills but I get better all the time.

Right now I'm pushing myself with running.  Trying to get faster so that takes concentration as well.  I find myself listening to my body more.  How my breathing sounds and how my footfalls sound.  It's pretty amazing hearing my body working hard.

Working out without music has taught me a lot.  I have learned to be more comfortable with myself and my own thoughts.  I have learned to be still and really listen, not just to my thoughts but to the world around me.  God created an incredible place for us, it's good to take away some of the noise and distractions in order to really appreciate it.

I'm four weeks away from my Olympic triathlon.  Lots of work to do yet.  But I'm going to keep working!  :-)

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