Outer change always begins with inner work.
Way back in the 1990's, I was a wildman. I worked too hard, I played too hard, barely slept and I rarely slowed down long enough to reflect deeply on anything. I shifted off center and out of balance. Then Allergic Asthma reared its ugly head. The natural process of breathing in and breathing out, without great effort and concentration, fell beyond my ability. I finally reached a point about two years in, where I knew something had to change. I pulled away, for a time, from friends and family to re-evaluate my own health and wellness. I rediscovered the deep contemplative practices and mindfulness meditation I had been exposed to many years earlier.
We are more often than not, victims of our own bad decisions
I broke down my lifestyle into small manageable bits, assessed them, replaced negative habits with positive skillful action, and introduced balance and moderation into an otherwise extreme existence. I began to study and practice the teachings of both ancient and contemporary healers, meditators, yogis, poets and preachers. I later merged deep reflection, prayer and meditation with physical activity, as a "Rolling" Standing Cyclist, riding for hours and days at a time without coasting and without a seat. I became deeply aware of my thoughts, breath and movements with each pedal rotation, with every mile.
Today, I (strive to) bring the practice of mindfulness into every personal and professional aspect of my life. Full, clear, focused, non-judgmental attention to the present moment. Moments filled with emotions, movements, interactions with people, or perhaps just sitting. In addition to my daily morning practice, usually a walking and standing meditation out in the natural world, I do highly aerobic Rolling meditations in the evening especially when training for Standing Cyclist trips.
For me, my practice allows me to see things as they really are, without the melodramatic ego-spin we tend to put on everything. It allows me to be more skillful in my decisions and improves everything in my life, from physical well-being to personal relationships to spiritual practice to business dealings. The equanimity that results, gives me the insight and strength to "sit and walk well through both storm and celebration," prepared for whatever life lessons may be found along the path.
I still do much of the same things I've always done, but now I do it fully conscious and in moderation. I still love hard work, a good live band, a great beer and amazing friends. Now, even more so, with full attention and deep appreciation in every moment.