Thanks to a book called Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham, running has become more meaningful to me. Not that preparing and training to run the marathon wasn’t meaningful already. When I was thinking about my grandmother, how this run will honor her life, how it will raise money for LUNGevity to support lung cancer research, and hopefully help others, running has meaning. But this incredible book also helped bring to light the concept of how running, like meditation, requires good form, posture, and even part ceremony to really be meaningful as well – and to get better at it, you have to keep doing it the right way.
It started with breathing the right way. In the past, when I ran, I just moved my legs faster than I did when I was walking, swung my arms, and hoped at some point I would catch my breath. I struggled, huffing and puffing, and felt miserable during most of it. That was my experience of running, so I took it at face value. It was hard and exhausting. But in the book, the author talks about deep and mindful breathing while running, so inhaling for as many steps as you comfortably can, and then exhaling the same way. Once I tried it, I found longer inhales and exhales helped immensely. Previously, “finding my breathing” meant an inhale would take two steps followed by an exhale of two steps, inhale – one, two, exhale – one, two, and so on. When I started inhaling deeply with multiples steps, then exhaling fully through several steps, I was less tired and less winded. Running became – dare I say – pleasurable.
Today was hot. My car thermostat said 100 degrees fahrenheit when I left work. It dropped a few degrees by the time I got to the trailhead, but it was full sun and steamy. I had some water with me but I knew the run was going to be exhausting. And it was, but I ran it better. I breathed through the heat and pain, stayed present, and all was right with the world. And this run, with my focus on my breath, became meaningful in a different way. I can’t really explain it yet, but I felt like I could endure, even in the 97-98 degree weather, more. What’s even scarier is I found pleasure in it. What’s happening to me?
So I’d like to gratefully thank Sakyong Mipham for opening my mind to the concept of focused, but gentle running. While I’m in the phase of the tiger, I can feel the seeds of each phase expectant in me waiting to be unleashed. And I’m running.
There will be a lot of media coverage, analysis, speculation, and chatter as we start to understand who, what, why, and how it all happened in Boston. Detonating two bombs at the finish line of a marathon is an insane act. When senseless tragedies like this happen, I have to wonder if some people just happened to be born without a soul.
In the book Journey of Souls, author Michael Newton talks about the process of a soul entering a human being’s body in utero. He says, “the soul will touch and join… with the impressionable, developing brain of a baby.” (p.266) So what if the soul changes his mind and decides he doesn’t want to be joined after all and abandons the baby? Or if it’s possible for it simply not to take and that soul returns to heaven or finds another baby thereby leaving the original baby human of course, but soulless. If that’s the case, it would explain some of this and help me understand that some humans among us are simply soulless, and they cause the rest of us to search for meaning on earth.
Ah, but that would be the easy way out. The harsher, and more likely, reality requires us to understand why someone with a soul, a higher self, a purpose, finds himself carrying out such heinous acts of hate and violence. That’s where I get lost. It makes me angry and sad, but soon I realize I’m no better if I give in to those feelings. Instead I let them go and wonder how we as a society, as a human race, have failed him. With so much still to ponder, I take a deep breath, sit down and close my eyes. I begin to watch my breathing and meditation sets in. That’s when I know that everything is going to be okay. Eventually.
Prayers, love, and healing to all those in Boston and affected by this tragedy.