the real enlightenment is to give

“The real pleasure, the real peace,  the real enlightenment is to give. The more you give the more you get. If you give 10, you get 100.” – Bikram Choudhury

I love it. I think it encompasses all the emotions I am feeling with the holiday season coming up and other things going on in my life. 

I started a 30 day Bikram  challenge a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a formal agreement with the studio, just something I wanted to try on my own. One of my 2011 resolutions was to complete this challenge, and since we are reaching the final end of this year, I knew it was then or never. I started the first day mid-November, going back and forth deciding whether I wanted to commit. But then when I hurt my knee at the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving, I knew it was something I needed to do for my body — I spent all of 2011 training for half-marathons, and I never took the time to really rest.

So as I approach Day 24 this evening, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned so far:

Most of the obstacles you face are mental. I wish I could come up with some statistic, but I come across this in any activity I do. “I can’t” is such an easy thing to say. “I can’t” run 20 miles, or “I can’t” stand on one-leg and bring my head to my knee. Of course you might not be able to your first time at it, but it takes practice. It takes dedication. I tell people all the time just because you think “you can’t” run a mile today doesn’t mean you can’t do it one day.

Over the last 23 days, I definitely have not been able to balance on one leg. I try to kick out in standing leg to knee posture, but I think the running has impacted my ability to keep my standing leg locked. That doesn’t mean I give up! If I keep trying, I hope one day I’ll be able to look like this:

Falling into a routine is not only boring but IMPOSSIBLE. Some people are good about keeping a routine. I feel like life would be so much easier if I could do the same thing every day, but unfortunately this isn’t the case for me. Factors working against me: a) I work in finance, b) I’m indecisive, and c) I take on too many tasks. Reason a) is the main drivers, on a good day I’m out by 6, but practically speaking, 7 or 8. This means on the days I know I’m working late, I can plan my runs in the morning, but then if something goes wrong and I had decided to hold off, I have to somehow fit it into my lunch or late after work, which isn’t too bad. Running is much easier to work into your schedule.

On the other hand, Bikram is not that easy as it’s almost a 2 hour committment. You try to get to class a little early so you can put your mat in a good spot, and then you have the usual 90 minutes, but, depending how long you lay in your savasana, and whether or not you decide to shower at the studio or at home, you’re looking at 2 hours. One of the studios I go to doesn’t give me too many options, it’s either the 6:30 AM or the 8:15 PM class (there’s a 6:30PM class but that’s unrealistic with rush hour subway commute). For my final week of the challenge, I joined another studio that has a class almost every hour. I feel less stressed out and able to plan slightly better.

Change allows you to appreciate the things you already have. My running went on hiatus when I started the challenge, sprinkling a few jogs into my schedule. Fortunately my timing was perfect, I end the challenge the day before my formal training starts on December 12th. When I went for a run last week, I realized I haven’t felt that great in a while. I usually enjoy my runs, but it was just that much more refreshing since I had given my body a break. What’s even better though, is that because I’m used to being in a hot room for 90 minutes, I feel like I could run for hours. Or well, at least an hour and a half ;)

Giving comes in all shapes and sizes. I think this is important as we approach the holidays. You don’t need to give a physical gift to be giving something. Sometimes, all you want is the person’s time (perhaps grabbing a coffee or bite to eat), his or her support, or sincere gratitude. I love Christmas, not because of the presents under the tree, but because I know I’ll be spending time with my family.

Try do something new this holiday season. There are sneaker drives or holiday runs with the proceeds going to a local charity. Perhaps you can volunteer at a shelter. Just remember how fortunate you are :)

All in all, I can’t wait to start my training. I will be doing spinning and bikram as my cross-training. The mix-up will keep me busy and happy. Now to get through the next 7 classes…

Have you done a 30 day challenge, not just in Bikram, but in something you wanted to try out? What’s your favorite “giving” activity?


One response to “the real enlightenment is to give

  1. I love that you did the 30 day challenge – I really wanted to do it, but with class I wouldn’t have been able to…maybe next year when I am done with school :) There are so many bucket goals I am hoping to accomplish – the marathon being one! You will get the locked knee pose some day I have a feeling!! I agree that doing something for a charity always makes me feel good around the holidays!!

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