Just Keep Breathing

My body is still recovering from the SMART Ride, a 165-mile fund raising bike ride from Miami to Key West. With the support of an extensive and dedicated volunteer crew, more than 450 riders raised over a million dollars last weekend for South Florida HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention organizations. I’m deeply grateful to those of you who supported the effort by sponsoring me. Thank you!

I learned a few things from the effort. For one thing, I did much better than I anticipated and my body was not nearly in as much pain as I was expecting after the fact. I suppose I still had memories of the last time I undertook a similar challenge, from SF to LA, 15 years ago.

Steady does it. The way I managed to make it down there with insufficient training was by getting myself into somewhat of a Zen zone or trance and just pedaling. I practiced meditative mental self-discipline during the inevitable “WTF was I thinking” moments, intentionally bringing up instead emotionally-charged images of successfully completing the ride. Some riders took off like bats out of hell and then got exhausted early on. I took my time and followed the sage advice of that famous philosopher Dori: “Just keep swimming!” These are practices that we can take on in our lives as we advance — one step at a time — toward our dreams and goals.

Fueled by the breath. Whenever I stated to falter or feel pain, I used the breath, pulling it in a circular fashion 10-20 times, as many of you have learned to do in retreats and workshops. This practice is something we can always use right before a difficult discussion or important meeting, or to boost our energy in the mid-afternoon slumps, before reaching for the caffeine or sugar. Just keep breathing!

Enjoy the process. Though I was pretty focused and didn’t dilly-dally at the pit stops, I thoroughly enjoyed the natural beauty and the opportunity to be alone on the road. Even in the rough moments I felt gratitude for the opportunity to test my limits, for the beautiful connections I made with other riders, for the sense of freedom experienced on the road, for the gentle weather conditions, for the beauty of creation, for the volunteer massage therapists at the end of each day, etc. We can always use the practice of conscious gratitude to reframe things and pop us out of a funk. Enjoy the entire ride–even the hard parts are full of opportunities for healing and growth.

Remain aware. A wake-up call crossing an intersection in the early morning of the first day when I was still half-asleep helped as a reminder to stay aware of my surroundings — not in a stressed out, fear driven sense, but consciously extending my sensory perceptions in a relaxed and expansive way. Similarly, in life we stay open to the signs from the Universe. After noticing, for example, that by far most people I passed with flat tires seemed to be on bridges, I became hyperaware of nails and glass on the side of the road going over every bridge. In the same way, in life we remain vigilant and interact with the many messages we receive, making the necessary adjustments as we proceed on our path.

The first step to handling obstacles is to become aware of them. Then we can make the necessary adjustments and course corrections.

What obstacles are you allowing to hold you back in life? How have you perhaps shied away from fully giving expression to your life purpose? What beliefs and misunderstandings from your past are still impacting your ability to have relationships that work, to become a clear channel for giving and receiving love? In what situations do you tend to play small and hide your light under a bushel, stepping back from your authentic expression of personal power?

One of our retreats will not only help you to get clarity and bring consciousness to these blocks, but actually begin the work of effectively dissolving them, often in one weekend!

As we enter the hecticness of the holiday season, may you be blessed with personal freedom and be enveloped in love.


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