How Rich Roll uses meditation to run and run and run
It’s easy to be calm and mindful when you’re in a cave. But how do you do it in the world and how do you do it under extreme duress? That’s what reveals character. As a kid I was really sort of naturally insecure until I discovered drugs and alcohol and that was like the miracle salve that solved every problem that up to that point I didn’t know that I had. I was a pretty broken guy. It was a pretty dire dark scenario. I woke up one day hung over and decided I’m finally ready to do something about this. And went off to rehab. And I was able to actually grab onto that rope and start doing that interior work. That was my first introduction to meditation. I had this moment walking up these steps late one night where I had to pause and I had tightness in my chest and sweat on my brow and really fear in my heart that I was on the precipice of a very serious heart issue and it scared me. And that began the process of me once again reconfiguring my life. I became amazed at how resilient the human body is because for so many years I had beaten myself up with drugs and alcohol and fast food and workaholism and you name it. And I realized that if my body could bounce back this quickly from all the terrible treatment that I’ve given it for most of my life like what is it really capable of? That’s what introduced me to Ultra Man. For people that don’t know it’s a double Iron Man distance triathlon. Three hundred twenty miles that over a three day period circumnavigates the entire Big Island of Hawaii. It’s insane. It’s very easy to get freaked out and think oh my gosh I can’t do this. Who am I kidding or this is too painful I want to just stop. So in a race like Ultra Man it’s crucial to be able to anchor yourself in the present moment. You have to be able to let go of what just happened and what is in your near future and focus on what is happening right now. And the more you can do that then all of that fear kind of evaporates. Your thinking mind is that pesky guy on your shoulder he’s trying to talk you out of everything. And so the trick becomes learning how to tap into a higher state of awareness so that you can be mindful and you can be present. And that’s the place you want to be in as an athlete because that’s when you’re completely centered and focused. And I will say in all honesty that Headspace has been really great for helping me have a consistent approach to my practice because it is right on my phone and I put it down in the dock at the bottom. It’s a constant reminder and it’s so easily accessible. To be able to do it wherever you find yourself for somebody who’s beginning to meditate five minutes might seem like an eternity. And that’s what I experienced during this training like I can get to a place where a seven hour ride didn’t feel like that long. And that’s really a mental practice. Yes there is physical discomfort and the training is athletic and physical. But truly a race like Ultra Man all comes down to your mental emotional and spiritual state and that is really the defining characteristic that would define any any champion in that regard.