Volume 3, Issue 12, 11/24/09
Early this morning I was at the gym, going around the running
track really slow. Nobody seemed to notice. By really slow I
mean slower than a stroll. It's a pace that probably looks like
Buddhist meditation walking.
It's slow enough that once somebody asked me if I was okay, as
he passed me. Not sure what he was thinking - maybe I look like
my battery's dying.
Years ago I studied tai chi. There was a period when I'd go out
into my neighborhood doing an even slower walk. I quit that
because I was afraid somebody really would turn me in for
looking too strange.
Recently I got a note from an Introvert Energizer reader
describing her slower pace (than her extrovert husband's). She
said she finds it hard to get going in the morning. One thing
she does about it is to sleep till she wakes up with no alarm
and have breakfast before she showers.
I share her experience with getting going in the morning. One
thing that helps me is to start the day by doing nothing. I lie
in bed for a few minutes after I wake up, clueless (on purpose)
about what I'm going to do next.
When I get up I follow my body around for a few minutes, letting
it putter. Before long I seem to get my bearing, without trying
much. It feels comfortable even when I have to be somewhere at
a specific time. Starting the day not in a hurry.
Introvert bodies are designed for a slower pace. Maybe it's
because, as brain researchers explain, our longer brain pathway
requires more processing time than extroverts'. (But the reward
is that it integrates complex intellectual and emotional
information more easily.)
It's actually harder for introverts to move our bodies because
we predominate on the side of the autonomic nervous system (the
parasympathetic) that requires conscious thought. We have to
decide to move. Evidently extroverts "just do it" :-).
And the key neurotransmitter in our brains (acetylcholine) works
along the same lines - it says, "Let's think about it." No need
to rush into something. (Versus the extrovert neurotransmitter,
dopamine, which goes, essentially, "If it feels good, do it.")
I started my Buddhist walking workouts a few years ago as an
introvert experiment. I think I was tired of decades of gearing
myself up for aerobic exercise and curious about how slow
I'd go if I wasn't pushing myself. It turned out to be pretty
The experiment has turned into a habit. I feel a little guilty
about my lack of aerobic exercise. (I notice the exercise
experts aren't in agreement about it these days, though, so who
knows what to think.) I don't really know what it's doing for
my body to meander around the track. But I love going to the
gym to slow down.
End of food for thought, onto a practical idea:
A Practical Idea for Introverts and Extroverts
Take yourself on a slow walk. See what you notice.