When I began, there was no thought about making it beyond the first 100 days. However, the more I carried on, the more inevitable it became. Each milestone made it easier to continue, and each played its part in carrying me to where I am now, five years later. I have recorded my progress on two previous occasions. (See ‘300 Days’ and ‘One Thousand Days’.) What follows are my latest observations of what I have gained from doing a 25-minute exercise routine every day for 1,829 days.
The discipline is the obvious place to start. I know from my attempts in the past that it can be difficult to keep a run going. (See ‘A Break In The Routine’). These days, there is no question that the exercises will be done. Any internal dialogue has disappeared. In fact, it feels a little hollow writing anything about it. I thought there would be great insight, but instead I find myself describing a routine event. Something which happens every day. Nothing special. Maybe that’s the main insight: after a while there is nothing special about doing a few exercises every day.
The workout itself is not a tough one, so the changes in my physique have been slow and steady; and all the more enduring because of that. My body used to feel a little fragile, out of balance, sometimes even broken. Nowadays it’s stronger, more solid, and more flexible. There are still tough days when my back really aches, but they occur occasionally rather than regularly. It can also take a while to get going in the mornings, although it’s often only a matter of minutes, and is never as bad as I think it might be. More significantly, there are times in the middle of the routine when I’m astonished at how far I have come, how strong I feel, and how straightforward and uncomplicated it has been. Do a little something every day, and look what happens.
The exercises act as an emergency procedure whenever I’m struggling. A simple way to get out of my head and into my body. Fortunately, I haven’t needed to call upon them in that way for a while now. Instead, their regularity is a constant source of stability and mental strength. Knowing that I do them every day; that I have done them daily for so long; and that I will easily continue to do them, is an achievement in itself. It has a soothing, grounding effect on my mind, balancing out the peaks and troughs. No matter how well things are going, I still do my exercises. And no matter how bad things get, I still do my exercises.
The same is true of my emotions, (although I think the silent retreat in August also had a huge effect on those). It’s as if the physical strength translates into emotional strength. I am less likely to be lifted out of my calmness, or pushed towards darker places. There is a greater resilience. The mind still does what it does, and can easily trigger emotional responses to imagined scenarios. But the emptiness, about which I have written recently, arises more readily these days. In that infinite space emotions have no power.
I no longer count the days, nor record the exercises on a chart as I used to. They are motivational tools I no longer need. There will undoubtedly come a time when I don’t do them for a day or two… or more. However, I feel I will always return to them because they are a source of strength and balance. They ground me in their foundation. And they are proof that the simplest effort, repeated daily over many years, can have a profound and lasting effect on every aspect of being.