I’m told the ocean is an unforgiving place.
When the waves pummel my boat and shake me to the core, and I’m thousands of miles from land and feel I’m losing control, what will I call upon to endure?
When I was younger, I equated strength to brute force. To fight. Push. Hold. Grip.
But I’ve learned strength has many forms. And the most potent? It may actually be letting go.
Letting go of beliefs that don’t serve us. Letting go of worrying what others might think. Letting go of the need to show progress. Letting go of ego.
These are strengths I wish to build now. That’s why on this equinox marking 3 seasons until I begin my Atlantic row, I’m embarking on a week-long silent and solo meditation retreat. My aims?
To bring stillness to my mind, to watch what surfaces and stirs up ripples on the stillness, and let it go.
To release self judgements. To accept that all the things I should be doing instead, all the things I should have done yesterday, should have accomplished long ago, are past. Let them go.
To look into my eyes and heart – to really look, no buzzing or beeping or typing to turn to. To be still, breathing, and if I’m lucky, maybe dissolve a bit of the boundary between me and the air-that-becomes me, letting go of the “me” I’m attached to…. Or, if such grace eludes me, let go of the goal instead.
I first learned to meditate ten years ago through endurance sports. Now, as I prepare for the hardest endurance race on the planet, I’m learning to meditate through sitting. As I often say, the greatest strengths you develop as an athlete don’t come from the gym.
It’s with a calmness of mind, awareness of body, and presence in the moment that I will humbly rise to meet the ocean.
So for the coming week, I will meditate, write, and read Tao Te Ching so I may learn to let go. Because it’s by letting go that I will manage, stroke by stroke, to row solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.
Thank you for reading,