I went to the gym and didn't exercise and felt fantasticÂ
I spent an hour at the gym and didn't hit the treadmill or the free weights. I left feeling better than I have in weeks.
On those days when I have plenty of energy and the office is a hive of activity, I relish the lunchtime gym session; it's the perfect time to work up a sweat and return to work revitalised and ready to finish off the day.
But today I chose a different path. There was no workout at all. I was feeling exhausted already when I arrived at the gym and a little anxious, to tell you the truth. I just wasn't feeling myself. Low energy. Unhappy. A general sense of doom and definitely not in the mood to start stacking a bunch of weights onto a barbell or sweating through a spin class.
Luckily, my gym has a relaxation room; a dark corner with a few sun loungers, a fish tank, no clock and no exercise equipment whatsoever.
I gingerly crept towards the door, checking to see if anyone was inside. It was empty.
Once inside, I made myself comfortable and stretched out on my back, closing my eyes as the dull thud of a dropped medicine ball somewhere in the building gave me a pang of guilt â€“ am I about to take a nap at the gym?
The first 10 to 15 minutes were spent in silence as my mind meandered along this sort of introspective tangent: was I simply being lazy? What if someone comes in and tries to sell me a personal training session? How long have I been in here?
This is the first time in my life that I have attempted an unguided meditation. Usually, I use an app or background music.
Intruding thoughts are part of the process. It is in there among that flow between my breathing and the intruding thoughts that I find serenity.
After about 20 minutes lying in the darkness, my negative thinking, anxieties and self-criticism gradually lifted and I was simply a man relaxing in a room. There was an acceptance that had been achieved in less than half an hour. Not just an acceptance of my current situation but a gentler, more caring attitude towards myself. The negative self-talk had gone.
I stayed in this state for another 15 minutes or so and then slowly got up and went for a cold shower. This woke me up and left me feeling invigorated yet still very much at peace with myself and my surroundings.
Walking out of the gym into the sunlight, I had a completely different attitude to the day. I was happy. I had energy. I wasn't dreading the work to be completed or regretting the deadlines unmet. I was, in a word, present.
It has never occurred to me to spend close to an hour laying down in a dark room resting. Particularly during my lunch break. Doing so at a gym seems like the absolute antithesis of what gyms are all about: reps, sets, work, resistance.
My workout involved none of this. There was no work and no resistance at all. And I feel healthier because of it.
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