31 January 2006

Benchin' For The Buddha


You're not gonna believe this. Back in October, when I started working out in earnest, I could only bench 80 pounds and do 14 push-ups. Check it out: I bench pressed 225 pounds this morning. That's three reps on a ten-Mississippi count, too.

No, I do not lie. And get that disbelieving smirk off your face. I crap you not. It was me. I benched two hunnert and a quarter. That's, like, thirteen stone, five ounces, six quid and tuppence. That's fifteen pounds more than I weigh. And if you want an idea of how slow my reps were, count to 10 Mississippi up and 10 Mississippi back while pretending to bench. Yeah, like tai chi slow.

"But Thaddeus," you sputter in disbelief, "you've always been a weenie-arm of the smallest magnitude. You even got knocked out by a girl once. And not even a very big girl. Plus, you represent the most effete of all God's creatures: The Middle-Aged Man. How did someone of your extreme weinertasticity develop such Herculean strength?" Short answer: the dharma.

Okay, so, you ever seen those guys who do feats of strength for Jesus? They bust baseball bats over their necks and break bricks and blow up douchebags like party balloons and all sorts of other meathead stunts to show people how ossum it is to be Christian? Okay, so, you've gotta be pretty well aware that I'm not a Christian. Twenty or so years of being a Christian pretty much cured me of Christianity. But I was reading an article in Shambhala Sun a while back about Buddhist athletes that really fascinated me. What was particulary fascinating was an interview with Jet Li. To say that Li is an accomplished martial artist would be putting it lightly. He's been studying Wu Shu since he was eight. He's also a hardcore Buddhist. And he's kicked enough ass to fill Wisner Stadium. So when they asked him if meditating improved his martial abilities, he told them that it was 't'other way 'round. He said he became an expert martial artist so he could meditate better. I don't know if you'd call that Kicking Ass for Inner Peace, but it was an interesting idea.

So then I was thinking, hey, what if I turned my workout into a meditation? Couldn't hurt. And it'd probably save me some time, 'cuz gawd knows that what ya really wanna do is hurry that meditation stuff up and get it the hell overwith. (I told you I was a bad Buddhist!) So what I did was to slow my movements waaaay down, tai chi-style, and to focus on my breath instead of the effort of moving the weight. I also decided to not get emotionally involved with the weight any more than I get involved with my thoughts when I meditate - just observe what is happening. And guess what? Boo yah, I'm Hercules.

Granted, part of what made my arms so weak was the fact that I had loose rotator cuffs. Both of my shoulders have been dislocated a number of times during the past thirty or so years. I did a whole lotta work to get those bad boys put back together, and I'm sure that helped a lot. But still, the meditation trick - pretty cool, huh?

Now for my next feat of strength, I'm going to go bench the Internet.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.


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