YTP EP#15 Part II: Alex Buell, Plant-Based Athlete on the Power of Getting Still and Practicing Neutrality in Sport and Life

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This week Alex and I pick up where we left off in Part I with the will he or won’t he be attending medical school question left on the table. Lucky for the future of the world, he’s already started classes at the Frank H. Netter MD Medical School through Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. He explains that this massive undertaking originally made it feel like the other things he loves, like teaching yoga would have to fall away and that feeling was putting everything into question. The fact is, the decisions that we make in life to follow dreams and pursue big goals may tip the scales to one side for a while but it doesn’t mean we have to give up what we love. Making time everyday, even if its feeding a thought about what you love, can keep it alive in all senses. It’s important to remember that everything counts, every thought indulged, every action, every direction we shift, it all counts. Nothing goes unaccounted for in this life.

Like a true YogiTriathlete, Alex finds his answers by getting quiet but it’s not just getting quiet, he explains, it’s getting still that allows him the view into his mind and thought processes. From this he is able to pull his truth and answers to his life’s burning questions. This was his process to clarity in making the final decision to move forward and take on the beast of making his aspirations in the field of medicine come true.

As athletes who meditate we’ve heard many times from many people that their sport is their meditation, that getting active is what clears their mind and helps them find peace. We agree that it can be an effective means to wash off the day and feel better, endorphins alone will brighten up any day, but it can also be a way to hide behind our sport while pushing away things for another time. This unfortunately only invites that energy to fester and when it resurfaces it will surely be greater. I share a training experience that perfectly encapsulates this theme of pushing down for another time.

Moving meditation or sitting meditation? The question remains which is going to help us more when our sport is taken away. Will we still be able to engage in that mind clearing, peace inducing meditation when the activity is no longer? Or will our world fall apart because we relied too heavily on our sport to help us find peace.

We go on to chat about the ever so convincing mind, the voice upstairs that most people spend their entire life answering and acting on its beckon call. These folks don’t see the tendencies of the mind because they are always in their thinking mind but when we are in the witness state, at Alex describes it, we are able to see the craziness of the thoughts. I love how Eckhart Tolle describes the craziness of the mind. He says that the only difference between us and the crazy person on the street yelling out a million different things that don’t make any sense is that they are verbalizing it and we are not. The monkey mind makes servants out of their hosts and without training the mind, without taking time out to see the tendencies of the mind we will inevitably become the servant. As athletes if we are the servants to our minds then we will have no defenses in the face of adversity during our training, racing and life in general. Learning how to sit in sensation either mental or physical while finding neutrality is the ultimate athletic training and what will allow us to rise above when all else falls around us.

Alex shares his working definition of meditation as a way to break the constant thought cycle. From his practice he has started to see the classic attachment and aversion practices of the mind. The incessant need to put labels on every thing and every thought. This includes the labels of our ourselves and our roles in this life – what we like and dislike, we we are, what we do and how we move through life. All this does is put us in a box of constraint and attachment. It feeds unwillingness to let go of patterns and automatic behaviors, it roots us in our ways and limits the possibilities of life. The nature of yoga, requires us to inquire and question ourselves, our lives, our behaviors. This idea of being curious, in my experience, is the key to living free.

I could go on an on because frankly, there are many moments of gold in this conversation. I hope you enjoy it, please let us know and don’t forget to get to iTunes and leave a review this month to get entered into our August OOFOS giveaway.


Episode #14 Show Notes:

OOFOS Recovery Footwear

OOFOS August Giveaway

Rhode Island Power Yoga

Center for Nutrition Studies

Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine

Quinnipiac University



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