by Louis Cinquino
I did not want to. But I had no choice.
I set the alarm for 5:15 am.
My mind knew all the reasons I should—in fact, I would be presenting them later that day, to my fellow Certificate in Positive Psychology (CiPP) students.
But still. My body was not convinced.
Yet there I was in the pitch black, wearing what looked like a hunter’s blaze orange jacket, a coal miner’s headlamp, and an exotic dancer’s tights.
I was going for a run.
I had promised my friend Stephen that I would meet him, and I was not about to break a promise. Moreover, I didn’t want to break a vow I had made to myself, and to the bigger story that my research into running had revealed to me. Running, when pursued in light of the discoveries of the positive psychology movement, can make me (and you) happier and more successful, and promote flourishing.
That part I did want.
So off we went. Just catching up with Stephen, an attorney, PhD, and former Army Ranger, was worth setting my alarm for.
Yet this was about so much more.
Running offers a simple, timeless way to re-establish connection with my body. I could feel the P in my SPIRE chart rising with every step.
Physical, yet more than Physical. Running connects me to all the letters represented in the SPIRE methodology, the aspects of myself that were being pinged and prodded and stretched and transformed at every turn on this week in the Berkshires.
This morning, running was boosting my Relational value, as I shared my thoughts and hopes with my partner, a Boston Marathon qualifier. Later in the week, running helped me connect with other students, including one who had just finished her first marathon and another who had only been running for three days.
The runs gave us time to discuss each other’s work, boosting my Intellectual capacity, and share empathy for family situations, applying much-needed salve to my Emotional state. And seeing (really seeing) the sun rise on a snow-covered mountainside in 14-degree weather is as close to Spiritual awakening as I’ve experienced in a long time.
For those of you keeping score, that’s five for five.
I also think these freezing runs qualify as the kind of hardship that breeds resilience. It might seem like an oxymoron, but it was nothing if not a “crucible of cold” that we endured, and immediately felt stronger for having endured.
Running wasn’t the only physical practice that unlocked the elements of SPIRE for me during the week of the CiPP immersion. Let Your Yoga Dance® with Megha Nancy Buttenheim was like chugging pure “SPIRE-ade.” Also, in different dosages, were the yoga classes and walks with fellow CiPPsters.
I would love to meditate more. I would love to pray more. Journal more. Write more gratitude letters. But it doesn’t always happen.
Yet, on this week, I was reminded that there is a wide range of gifts available to us through the portal of the Physical. With the right awareness and appreciation, we can re-establish connection with our whole being simply by engaging our physical self.
As I got ready to put my practice to the test of a busy life back home, I conjured up a silly, joyful image as a reminder: I see a SPIRE chart with colorful flags representing the theories that describe our well-being in each of the five elements of our lives. I see the S for the spiritual awareness of my purpose in life, the I for the intellectual curiosity of learning, the R for the deeper connections I seek by knowing and being known, and the E for the Emotional fulfillment I dream of to put my loving heart at peace.
And I see a happy, playful puppy P-ing all over them.
Louis Cinquino, a graduate of CiPP4, is a writer, editor, runner, Dad, channeler of bad poetry, itinerant pick-up basketball player, and direct-response advertising writer whose work has been sent unsolicited to tens of millions of mailboxes worldwide. His personal observations, discoveries, and training plan as he prepared for the Fifth Avenue mile race were featured in “The Mulligan Mile,” (Runners World, September 2013). The article forms the basis of his memoir-in-the-works, Running Back The Clock. You can read more about Louis’ adventures on his blog, TakingMulligans.com, where he keeps asking the same question: What if we ran like there was no tomorrow and lived today like there was no yesterday?
Thank you for this contribution Louis, and this great look at spire. I think I need to create myself a graphic today to remind me where my answers lie. I have a sneaking suspicion, that what I need most to thrive, or what can be a doorway to my whole thriving being is physical movement. In Megha’s infinite wisdom and choice of second chakra songs, “You’ve got to move!” Urges me most. I was a hyperactive kid of the 1970’s who was constantly told to sit down and stop fidgeting. But what I needed to do most, indeed was Move. And I think in order for it not to feel like an obligation or something I HAVE to do in order to be physically healthy or well, it must be fun. And have room for adequate expression. It must hold my attention! So if running seems too serious for me, perhaps Ill skip instead. Taking loads of things to goodwill this past weekend, I came accross my old step aerobics step– I got a little sentimental. That was the kind of exercise I began when I HAD to after my kids were born. I had second thoughts about donating it and left it in the garage. I’m having fun remembering the old step moves, and those leotards we used to wear. I think the reason I got so fit back then was because it was fun, relational, physical, and kept my post partum emotions at bay. … Thanks for the inspiration. I’m going out to the garage. I’ve got to move.
Gloria, you may have really uncovered something today. We can’t get very far on any practice without involving our bodies. And you know what, when we find something physical that we enjoy, it makes EVERYTHING go so much easier. Skipping?? That would be AMAZING! I actually do that when I need to get my heart rate up quickly, like when I’m taking a break from a long drive and feel so flat and blah. So if you see a guy skipping through a parking lot, headed back to his Subaru, that could be me!
Louis Thank you for you wonderful blog and your description of how you embodied SPIRE. Wow! I remember seeing the groups of runners that week of the cipp immersion …on my walks and your writing brought those moments back to me. You gave me a gift with your post and your frame about how you use SPIRE to motivate and how you’ve created a virtuous cycle broadening and building. I could feel your passion and its very contagious. You’ve also inspired me as I continue to include the P of the SPIRE – and knowing that you’re out there as part of our wonderful WBI/CIPP community is a kind of built in virtual accountability.
Phoebe, so great to hear from you and to have you understand a little bit more about how we runners can take our sport and have it also become our “inside track” to happiness. A little P goes a long way!
Thank you for sharing your story here, the story of how you used and experienced SPIRE on this pre-dawn run. I am excited about using SPIRE and looking for ways to integrate it into my life.I loved the way you expressed this… “Physical, yet more than Physical. Running connects me to all the letters represented in the SPIRE methodology…” and I am inspired to go run right now (slowly, in the middle of the day) to try it for myself!
Jennifer, I’m glad you see the potential of how running can bring you many of the benefits of positive psychology. And with the awareness that SPIRE brings us, we can turn any run into a vivid whole being practice.
Walking in a book store makes me feel read to learn more. Reading this blog has the same effect. If I write more, will I one day write this well? Louis, Louis, oooo, this is awesome. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better writer. An unintended side effect of this blog! 🙂
Nicole, this contribution to your writing is tiny compared to all that you do for us CiPPers. You keep up your work, I’ll do mine and I look forward to having our paths meet again. Soon.
Loved your writing. The Let Your Yoga Dancer in me especially loved the line”Let Your Yoga Dance was like chugging pure “SPIRE-ade”
Elayne, isn’t it fun to be able to share physical experiences like running and Let Your Yoga Dance with others and touch all aspects of the SPIRE Whole Being model?
Louis, Thank you for this wonderful blog post. You’ve inspired me to dust off my running shoes and get them ready for spring! I was a runner for years, and in my minds eye I’m still that. I’m going to wait for the thaw and then hit the streets!
Once a runner, always a runner. I had pretty much given it for about 10 years, then found it again. And recently, running has been there for me when I needed it most. Such a timeless way back to ourselves. Good luck and keep me posted! I hope you follow my blog at TakingMulligans.com, where I talk more about the emotional elements of running.
What a wonderful post, Louis! So well-written and, despite the fact that I have only ever run to the bathroom, it really resonates on so many levels. The power of PP! Thank you!
Thank you, Alyson. It’s true– running is only one of many physical paths to connecting the dots to all facets of SPIRE living.
Brother Louis, better delayed than never, my running at Kripalu is always inSPIREd and it’s wonderful sharing the love of running meditation with good people like you. I have not found another running yogi to take your place at 5 am – even Army Rangers don’t do regular PT that early – you’re an honorary Yogi Ranger. Hopefully you’ll join us on the Cuba Retreat & we’ll do meditation runs on the beach at dawn then yoga. http://www.NomderYoga.com