Yesterday I led a very hard workout with my indoor cycling students, three hard intervals of six, five, and four minutes, pretty much all out. With those long times, the brain really has to get involved in the effort, acknowledging that yes, it is hard, yes, the legs are tired, yes, I want to stop, and yes, I am going to keep moving my legs in circles. It’s an approach to and embracing of the intensity of sensation Molly Bloom greets with, “yes I said yes I will Yes.”
This is the mental shift that Matt Fitzgerald describes so well in his article “Man Up” (it’s in the October issue of Triathlete, but not available online except to subscribers). It’s something yoga teaches, too. Acknowledge what is going on—I am distracted; I am thinking about dinner, not my breath; I am afraid to try a handstand—say yes to it, then keep going. Practice nonattachment; don’t get wrapped up in those thoughts.
Saying yes—accepting what is happening right now—keeps us in the present. It also works as a mantra. Thich Nhat Hanh recommends this as a walking meditation:
“Oui, oui, oui,” as [you] breathe in, and, “Merci, merci, merci,” as [you] breathe out. “Yes, yes, yes. Thanks, thanks, thanks.”