How to Be Present

I did this workout twice and modified it to suit the lane and mood. It worked really well with a larger than normal group of noobs and with a bunch of tired folk. The routine was a great way to introduce people to the lane and get them accustomed to our pace and the structure of a formal swim workout. And, selfishly, it had the benefit of filtering the slower swimmers back into their lane. My crew was light this week and when the lane is not full, there is slower lane leakage into ours! I missed my mates.

I exchanged a very mushy text with the crew this week, telling them that they were “my daily boost of motivation and that I love hanging out with them”, accompanied by a heart-eyed smiley. It is so true. Even when, or especially when I have a long day at work, the highlight of my entire day is seeing my crew and swimming with them. They motivate me to swim hard and leave it all behind, if only for an hour.

Swimming, I am also forced to be present. The rhythm of counting my breath or, if I am leading, counting the laps, creates a present mentality that I am not often able to replicate. On my bike or running, my mind often wanders back into my troubles. And, while it happens in the lane, you have to count and stop so often that your reveries are broken.

There is something magical about swimming in the lane that anchors me into the moment. Swimming outside, where I am not counting and adding and tracking, I drift into my daily troubles. You would think I could enjoy the scenery and let the lake wash over my thoughts, but it does not help me in the same way. It must be the busy-ness of the accounting that steadies my thoughts.

The only other times I experience this while working out are in power yoga with energetic music, but not all the time do I find the flow, because, sometimes, it feels too slow and I drift away.

How do you stay present when you are working out? What kind of activities help you stay present?


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