Monday, February 19, 2018

The sound of silence (sort of)

A lot of runners, particularly runners my age, can't imagine running without listening to something - music, a podcast, a book on tape.  Some actually prefer to only ever run without anything in their ears, using it as their opportunity to escape from the endless, endless input of information coming at us at all hours these days.

I fall somewhere in between.  If I'm not putting any particular thought into it, there's always a playlist I'd like to listen to (it helps me keep my pace up) or a podcast in my endless queue to be heard.  I have to remind myself that I actually not only like to run with nothing, but it's so unbelievably good for me and necessary for my brain. 

My word for 2018, Listen, is partly because in lieu of listening to my own brain (which is quite interesting all by itself), I feel constantly compelled to listen to something.  There is so much incredible material out there for consumption, and it's so easy to just let your headphones be glued to your ears for every single commute, every errand, every chore, every time you're not interacting with another human being (and even sometimes when you are).

As a result, I have a hard time remembering the simplest things, and when I suddenly stop all this input to do something like, say, meditate, my brain jumps at the chance to have a little free space, and that's when the planning and the processing of memories and the, "Remember we're out of apples!" all comes flying at me at once.

Running unplugged is unbelievably freeing.  Having the chance for my mind to wander - and yes, it spends a big chunk of the time planning and organizing and predicting - is so valuable to sanity.  I can keep my breath in a steady rhythm, pay deep attention to my form and to any little pains that might pop up, and it also gives my brain a chance to come up with brand new mantras for myself to push me through.  It may not have the relentlessly driving beat of Eminem, but it has something so much deeper.

If you aren't a runner, try an unplugged walk.  If you live in the city, you won't be treated to the sound of silence (unless you have fancy noise canceling headphones) but you'll be treated to the sound of something so much better - total, unfiltered you.

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