Day 13: Zen and the Art of Running in the Zone

From what little I’ve read, there are all kinds of postures for meditation. You can be sitting, standing, walking and lying down. But what about running? I think there’s a case for meditation with a kick… Who’s with me on this?

2015-03-11 18.20.07-1I ran five miles yesterday, focused on the sound of my breath. Just like you should in meditation. Inhale. Exhale. With a little extra huff thanks (or no thanks) to the cold I underestimated. Running in this Farmcoast, as they call it, there is way too much beauty to ignore. So my eyes may’ve wandered a bit. But overall, my attention stayed close, one foot, one breath–following the other.

If noticing what’s only in the now and what you’re feeling in the moment is meditative, I’d say running fits that mold. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Sometimes in forced staccato. I could hear the wind and the whizz of the cars. And I was all too aware of the way my head felt without my running cap (having failed to judge what 36 degrees was like since the warmup not a day before.) I also tuned into that slight pain that tends to happen in my knees. Now that (ahem) age and years of wear and tear are taking their toll. I felt my right hamstring tighten like it does lately. And knew when to change my stride to shake it out. I was right there–in every step, as I heel-toed the asphalt, aligned in body, mind and spirit…

Kind of a lot of heft to put on a pair of sneakers, no?

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Day 8: I Need A Buddha Break

Screen shot 2015-03-08 at 11.49.24 PMI’ve just been reading my 3rd book by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, called Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. (Granted, I did have a glass of red wine and a coffee with Bailey’s and Frangelico beforehand.)

Why do I feel like I need martini after a lesson on how to meditate? I’m not kidding, this stuff is dense. I’m open to it. I’m trying to process the logic of leaning into pain and casting away pleasure. Of accepting the good with the bad and appreciating the now. All very elementary distillations of a bunch of maxims (59 in total, I think?) that I’m having a hard time digesting.

I grew up Catholic, for god’s sake. (Note: little “g”.) I have memorized many a prayer and creed which, I daresay, I actually understood as I recited out loud in seemingly blind unison. Just sayin’. I’m capable of parsing parable and practical application. Not to offend anyone on the Buddhist bench, but if you want to persuade the masses, could you make it like, 5th grade reading level?

I digress.

There are a lot of things I agree with in the Buddhist lessons Chodron writes about. I agree with idea that nothing in life is certain and the only way to live without struggle is to embrace that uncertainty and act as you would without fear of consequence. Put simply, “Just do it.” (That Nike is really onto something.) Continue reading