Chi va piano va sano e va lontano!

23 Jul 2018

When I started this blog, I had two motivations. First I wanted to create some product on my own, my own simple website powered by my own little piece of software. Then I wanted to start writing. I had nothing in particular I wanted to write, I just had a lot of thoughts and I felt like I wanted to write them down. The funny thing is that having a lot of ideas is not enough to actually generate a lot of writing. If you look at the dates of my publications on this blog you will notice that I have actually been struggling with that. I would say that my two main blockers are confidence and lack of focus. I lack the confidence that what I have to say is interesting enough and I cannot always find the patience and focus to sit down and just write down the things I wanted to. For the first issue I think my blog is just the perfect space, I just need to remind myself that this is my blog and I shall be the only judge of whether or not this is good enough. The second issue is actually the reason I am writing this post right now. I was reading a book about meditation on the plane. Not any book: "Meditation for fidgety skeptics" by Dan Harris (find his books here), it is doing a great job of promoting meditation and helping people starting with meditation. It also got me thinking: meditation is about taking some time to concentrate on yourself for a bit. Taking the time.... I had some idea about it recently didn't I? This is what this blog post is about, taking the time.

There is a particular area of my life where taking things slowly and not rushing was a huge help in improving myself: physical activity. I started exercising more or less seriously in about April 2017, I hadn't really exercised much in my life before and it was about time. It took a lot of motivation for me to start hitting the gym. I had convinced myself that this was not something for me but I knew something had to be done about my health. So I started going, slowly. I really did take my time, I started going twice week on evenings. Then I started going three times a week, still on evenings. One day, my gym pal and I decided to try going in the morning, before work: it was amazing. Once you managed to get up, the gym session was actually very nice and I felt better for the rest of the day. I am not going to lie: there are some days when getting up is hard, the gym hurts and afterwards I feel really tired, but most days it feels great. And then I realized than waking up earlier everyday was easier for my sleep schedule so I started going everyday and before I knew it I started seeing results. I build a habit by starting slowly and only adding more when I felt comfortable with adding more.

When speaking of physical activity, I would never forget the first time I ran 10 km in less than an hour, it was this summer. By some miracle I just managed to power through and crossed that line in 57 minutes and 13 seconds. That was brilliant, I had never been able to do anything even remotely close to this and there I was, I had done it. It is during one of the subsequent 10 km runs that I had the idea of this article: it was by taking my time and running at my own pace that I managed to accomplish such a run. I took it slow, and as the Italians say "Chi va piano va sano e va lontano." Who goes slowly, goes safely and goes for a long time. I keep this thought in mind when I start a race and people are running faster than me, outpacing me. Because I do not need to beat them, I just need to beat myself and I am only going to do this if I go my own pace. This is true of running, this is true for many other physical activities, but I guess it is also true of building new habits.

In the end, this is something that I had to learn by myself despite people saying it to me all along: rushing matters does not help, everything should be done at its own pace, I am slowly learning this in my everyday life. I should let things evolve as fast as they can but not faster, even if I care a lot about them they won't happen faster. In fact, trying to get to the end too quickly might actually prevent anything from happening at all.
If I circle back to my struggles with focus, I think I am going to take it slow and keep up with my attempts at meditation, building a new beneficial habit in my life. I did it with my running, I did it with my physical activity I can do it for meditation. And then... Who knows? One positive change at a time is the only way I found I could do it. And I would encourage anybody reading this to try: change one thing, keep up with it, you'll thank yourself later.