Brave, and calm in the same sentence? Until quite recently, I wouldn’t be so sure those mix. I always thought bravery was needed in situations of confrontation, when you have to react in a more extreme manner than the other person in order to win, like two seagulls with a french-fry. I think I was wrong all along. Constantly working quite hard on myself, I’ve chilled out a great deal, and I don’t really care about winning (unless it’s enough money to retire and travel for the rest of my life – yes please…!) , and I’ve discovered many lessons in simple things like gym and yoga to teach me that bravery is something other than the alpha-type things like jumping off cliffs attached to a piece of rope or shouting at someone who’s being rude, and calmness is not only something that is induced by anaesthesia. Even though I have chased after a mugger after being tossed against a pole, given the middle finger to someone accelerating their car towards me only to realise it was the Italian mechanic from across the road, flirting at me in his strange way… (That time I ran away) – I have discovered that brave works well with calm, to bring a more centred power.
It can come at strange times, in unexpected situations. One time I was brave enough to smile in Yoga. At the time, I was just simply delighted at myself, only afterwards I realised I was extremely brave (or silly) – I had smiled while doing my first Bakasana (Crow Pose). Anyone who knows this pose knows that this takes your front teeth directly parallel to the floor while your bum acts a precarious fulcrum of balance to keep teeth and floor apart. Anyone who knows this knows that smiling at this time is the height of bravery. Or an interesting anecdote for the dentist, either way…
Other times that it helps to be brave is when running on the dreadmill at gym (yes, I spelt it like that on purpose). Sometimes it gets a bit boring, you’re running while looking out of a window, and checking a few digital numbers that tell you the three hours that have elapsed is actually 48 seconds, and that by the end of your workout you would have burnt off the equivalent of one raisin. Running on the dreadmill is also almost always, definitely the time your ipod battery goes flat, at around the 47 second mark. This is why it’s good to make it exciting. Pretend you’re being chased. Chased by a huge big spider, or clown, or whatever things make you run away. As it begins to feel a bit more real (normally when delirium at having no music to run to sets in), this is when it’s good to remain calm. Remember you are in a gym with other people, maybe also being chased, but try and take it in your stride. A scream of terror as your ipod goes flat is one thing, but running screaming that a spider is chasing you in front of strangers may not go down well. Stay calm!
My personal favourite time to test my calm, when I tap into the deepest, deepest inner-zen is when I do a circuit of those leg / arm / butt / who knows what this does type machines at gym. The thing that really challenges and has taught me the biggest power of remaining calm is when I get onto or near a contraption that has just been used by someone who is clearly 7 feet tall…
So what can I say? Training in any shape, way or form is not only physical. Make it a mind-body routine to develop and hone all your super-powers in one go.
After all, just showing up and giving it a try is not only brave, but admirable too.
And don’t forget to charge your ipod.