Still sitting even in the snow, or maybe especially in the snow. Sitting requires more rigor and devotion when it is cold and windy.
There are days when I do not want to do the work, when I feel that it will take too much from me, or that I do not have enough to give to it. The work could be anything: the writing, the riding, the dancing.
I went to the barn early today to ride because a snowstorm was coming. For me, riding is sitting. Riding is practice. Riding is that combination of rigor and devotion. Today was one of those days when I did not think I had enough to give. My body felt sore and stiff after several days of riding the big, powerful Friesian, Sanne.
At one point in the ride, I wanted to stop and say, “Wait, this is too hard, I cannot do it, I do not know how.” In fact, I think I did stop and say something like that. I could feel how the muscles in my arms were braced, how the pieces of my riding were not flowing together, felt I was coming apart, both mentally and physically.
Here is the thing. It was less my body than my mind. It was that old doubting, questioning, fearful part of my noisy mind, the part that has gotten up and left the meditation hall even when my body is still sitting there (in the saddle, holding the reins.)
Somehow I did recover myself. Here is what I did. I stopped trying the same old thing, and began to improvise my ride. A circle here, a softening there, a change of direction: change, change, change. I shifted my attention to the stiff, unyielding parts of my body and invited suppleness there.
I think this is what it means to be a spiritual athlete. Nurturing an athleticism that is not about big muscles or marathon sitting, but the kind of athleticism that is about endurance and steadfastness. About finding a way in, every day. Offering the best, every day.