The following entries (from beginning runner to half marathon finisher) represents a continuing journey of tremendous grief and sorrow, and of transformation - largely through the therapeutic power of running. The sorrow that has broken my heart open wide has in time allowed me to experience the beauty of being in the present moment. And of course, without the support of family and friends to guide me, I would not have made it this far.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Photo by Kristy's friend Elliot
I just know there's something about running that bypasses the brain, or the inner thought pattern and links directly into the spirit, or that which is "formless" inside a person.
Many great spiritual leaders throughout time have taught breathing, or the use of one's breath as a means of enlightenment, as a way to sense inner spaciousness. So maybe this has something to do with it.
But this inner spaciousness is not something you can search for or will to happen. You must simply open yourself up to the possibility. Zen Masters would say Zen is something you know without knowing what it is you know; from this space emanates a peace that is not "of this world." (Western interpretation: A peace that passes all understanding?)
"Once you see and accept the transience of all thing and the inevitability of change, you can enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last without fear of loss of anxiety about the future. When you are detached, you gain a higher vantage point from which to view the events in your life instead of being trapped inside them. You become like an astronaut who sees the planet Earth surrounded by the vastness of space and realizes a paradoxical truth: The earth is precious and at the same time insignificant." - A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
Tolle uses this explanation to describe a feeling of spaciousness: When you look out into a starry night sky - that feeling of wonder and insignificance you experience is not because of its beauty. Its because of the unfathomable depth of space. Something within you "resonates with recognition."
So when our consciousness is no longer controlled by our thinking, some of it remains in its "formless, unconditioned, original state." This is inner space. This is where the act of breathing comes into play. By the very fact we become aware of our breathing, we take attention away from thinking and thus create space, or consciousness.
My theory about running is that it is one way of forcing us into the present moment. Spiritual teachers throughout time have been telling us that being in the present moment is the way to consciousness. What happens to me when I am running is like a state of heightened alertness and creativity. It allows one to be in the present moment and cease thinking. It stops the mind!
This doesn't seem to happen to me as much when I am running in a gym on a treadmill surrounded by lots of noise, people, and distractions. But when I am running outside in a beautiful setting like a park or a lake it allows my mind to shut off. I can still operate effectively, but it is like I am on "auto-pilot." I am free to feel and sense things which are not consciously acknowledged - things which are operating in 'the back ground' so to speak.
When I am running I am able to put "space" into my life. To shut off the constant chatter of my mind and find peace. For this I am truly thankful. I am not concerned about being a fast runner or even being a particularly good runner. Right now, at this moment, I just want some peace in my life.
Today's workout: Due to threat of rain today's 5.5 miles were run on a treadmill. Can my body still be tired from the race?