I started taking barre classes (specifically, Pure Barre) the day after my last marathon. Some good friends, also runners, were dedicated and I knew it would be good for me and different.
Now I go to class 4–5 days each week. The classes follow a usual format, and when we begin, we are doing our warm-up while looking in the mirror. As it turns out, this helps me with my practice of this exercise. Each morning, I tell myself three things: 1) You will not always be able to do this, so savor the opportunity; 2) Many people have made this moment possible, so honor them and this moment by doing your best; 3) This class is not inexpensive. You owe it to yourself to get your money’s worth.
Whether we always feel it or not, this one moment is special. It holds all the potential to make or break our life.
I have always felt it’s the accidents and unplanned events that wake us up from going through the motions. I remember once when a priest at our church stumbled as he prepared for communion and perhaps this helped us have a better sense of what we were doing. Another time Meb Keflezighi fell as he completed the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trails and he used the occasion to do a few push-ups which gave everyone a smile. And there’s a reason why videos of things that go wrong at a wedding go viral.
We really shouldn’t need mishaps to make us appreciate this moment, but we are certainly human and it seems that taking things for granted is part of our humanity. I work at a company known for its lavish benefits, a small one of which is free M&Ms. When something happens and the M&Ms aren’t present, there are complaints. It is pitiful that these complaints occur but not inconsistent with the way of the world.
We would all benefit from rituals designed to help us remember to be mindful of the gift of this present moment. There are elaborate mindfulness exercises, valuable no doubt, but things need not be this complicated.
We can develop our own cues (like my morning view into the mirror at the beginning of Pure Barre) which prompt us to honor the moment. Maybe you stay quiet on the first part of your morning commute. Maybe you come to associate a physical action like brushing your teeth with bringing mindfulness. Or maybe you take your time to eat a snack each day and use that as an opportunity to remember where you are and what you’re doing.
While mindfulness for its own sake is worthwhile, mindfulness for the sake of gratitude makes the practice even more valuable. You will never have this moment again. Honor it for the gift it is.