‘Why?’ Series: Training, Meditation, and Volunteering
By Adam Woolard
As I experience my life’s normal progression and mature as a human being, I find myself contemplating my actions more consistently and living fully with introspection. I question Why I do certain things, say certain things, and take certain actions, and try to make sure that all of these questions are answered in alignment with my overarching value system. This process will never be set in stone as I am always growing, reading, changing and developing, thus creating a constant need to reevaluate my intentions as I go about my day. I will attempt to answer the questions that I have posed to myself throughout the past couple of years. Most of these questions were also posed by other people and not always readily understood, which is perfectly fine and welcomed! I don’t expect everyone to understand my Whys at first glance…I feel that this is the beauty of individuality. The following are My Whys – or the reasons for doing what I do.
Why #1 – Why do I wake up so early?
My day typically starts at 3:40am and begins with a protein shake, hot cup of coffee, and my Kindle. This is my favorite part of the day, hands down. The mind is completely clear after a night of restful sleep, and with the world still dark and quiet, it is much easier to read, comprehend, and fully internalize all of the information coming off of the pages of every book that I have the privilege of reading.
I typically read for about an hour before my morning workout, which averages around 1 book per week depending on the length and depth of the book. Non-fiction is always on the menu, as I find fiction to be a waste of time. I understand that fiction is great for the imagination, creativity, and empathy, but I find it much more satisfying to read about and learn from real life characters and experiences that preceded my existence. My voracious reading style is one of the most rewarding habits that I have developed and one that has significantly expedited my mental growth.
After reading, I either head to the gym for a workout or a lace up my shoes for a long run around the city. I am now much better about listening to my body to determine exactly what it needs than I was a couple of years ago. Some days I can feel my body starting to shut down due to exhaustion and I will typically take a day off to recharge. However, I feel that some form of physical activity is necessary every single day (more to come on this topic) and that one should work to improve both mentally and physically early in the morning. I have found that this helps put your mind and body in an optimal state to conquer the day ahead.
Why #2 – Why do I exercise every day?
I have always been very active, but until recently, I’ve never asked myself Why? Why do you feel the need to exercise every day of your life? I came up with several satisfactory answers, but the answers came from two opposing mental states – Fear and Love.
I am fearful that one day I may lose the ability to exercise. Whether this is a constructive way to look at exercise or not, this fear is constantly in the forefront of my mind. Freedom of movement is something that I will never take for granted and an ability of which I will always take advantage.
I am also fearful that I will look back in regret. We only have the ability to exercise for so long before that little thing called Time takes over. Why not push your body to discover its ultimate potential while you still can? Why not go to bed with immense satisfaction and think, “Man, I could not have given one more ounce of energy today?”
I love the euphoric feeling of an intense workout…the feeling of flowing endorphins coupled with accomplishment. I don’t need to get into the scientific benefits of exercise as there are plenty and most of them are well-known by the general public.
I enjoy the fact that my exercise habits can motivate others. In the past few years, I have had several people reach out to me about my workout routines and the internal factors that motivate me to exercise every day. This is something that I thoroughly enjoy explaining and I am flattered that people take the time to ask.
I know that to love others properly, I must first take care of and love myself. If I am in an unhealthy state, then how can I ever be in a place to help someone else?
Although my reasons come from both fear and love, I accept both viewpoints as useful to my overall well-being.
Why #3 – Why do I meditate 30 minutes every day?
Meditation has been one of the most beneficial rituals that I have ever adopted in my life. In the past, I would always wonder if there was a deeper sense of well-being to experience in life. It seemed as if I was endlessly chasing pleasurable experiences – tasty foods, alcohol and drugs, exciting activities on the weekends, etc., and that I was never satisfied with my so called “ordinary existence.” I didn’t feel truly happy unless I was completely engrossed in one of the aforementioned experiences.
Could happiness really just be the constant yearning for those pleasurable experiences coupled with the avoidance of painful experiences?
I just could not accept this as fact, so I started reading anything and everything centered on this question.
The most profound answer was meditation and the awakened state of mind. Meditation is the root cause of my underlying happiness.
Meditation is often misunderstood as an act of doing – concentrating on the breath, imagining peaceful experiences, etc. While these are methods used to calm the mind, they are not meditation. Meditation is more a state of thoughtless awareness. Regardless of what we are doing in the present moment, we are either in this state or we are not.
Studies have shown meditation to have many benefits. The most significant benefit that I have discovered is stress reduction. With about a year of meditation under my belt, I have since experienced a state of flow in my life. I seem to just go from one experience to the next while focusing on the present moment, rather than dwelling on what happened yesterday or what might happen in the future. Living in the present moment removes all stress and allows you to sit back, relax and let your life unfold before your eyes without conceding alertness, effectiveness, or control. It is an amazing way to live and one that produces true happiness.
Why #4 – Why do I give back?
I give back because I have been given so much. I always had more than enough in terms of material things. More importantly, however, I have always been given an abundance of love, attention, and mentorship – things that are so easy to give, yet so readily overlooked.
I feel that the easiest thing to give another human being is your attention. Giving someone your undivided attention, no matter the length of time, is the easiest way to have a positive and profound effect on another person’s life. Human beings thrive off of social connection, and if deprived, we tend to develop a less-than-desirable mental state.
Give others your time and attention, and you give them life!
My ‘Whys’ will not resonate with everyone and they seem to change as my life changes. The wonderful realization that life is in a constant state of change and that our Whys will not always remain the same as years pass is what makes this world so exciting. My ultimate goal is to leave this world in a better state after I am gone and to positively affect as many people as possible – that is my ultimate Why.
Adam Woolard is a personal trainer and boxing trainer at Title Boxing. He serves on the Board of Directors with Big Brothers of Big Sisters (BBBS) of Middle Tennessee (and is also a Big Brother in the program) and serves as a Committee Member on the Homeowner Selection Committee at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. Adam Woolard maintains a blog via his Facebook page, where he writes on topics ranging from self-awareness and training, to meditation and personal anecdotes. A version of this article, “I talk to myself,” can be found there. If you are looking to acquire tools to make yourself stronger, get to know Adam.
Other articles by Adam Woolard
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