Running & Meditating

My fiancé bamboozled me into a half marathon.  I’ve never been much of a “runner.” Sure, I’ll go on a 25 minute jog here and there for exercise, but the thought of running long distance has always sounded as appealing as washing my face with sandpaper.

To my surprise, I’m finding the long distance running to be an extension of my meditation practice which has turned the dreaded endeavor into a journey furthering my spiritual pursuit.  Each run brings me a little closer to myself, as I’m forced to sit with my thoughts for the length of the run and hopefully return to presence.

Throwing headphones on and distracting myself with music is only a separation of body and mind.  But taking in my surroundings and being present with each stride forces me to glide along the cloud of contentment between the passing storms of hope and fear we so often distract ourselves with by engaging in our minds ability to live in the past and future.

On my journey running towards freedom, I’ve found some wonderful lessons within Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s “Running with the Mind of Meditation.”

As the fall leaves change colors, I encourage a joyful jog taking in the spectrum of colors that mirror the spectrum of experience we’re able to enjoy when we open our eyes to the present.

Farewell Fear, Welcome 2014

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My lack of blogging is in no way a reflection of the AMOUNT of thinking I did in 2013.  On the contrary…too much thinking!

The year was transformational.  I suppose with Saturn in it’s full swing in my chart, the year was inevitably going to bring necessary evils within arm’s reach.  And by “evils” I mean challenges I’m most thankful for.

No one talks about being thankful for the challenges they faced.  More often than not, challenges are the catalyst for a sh*t ton of complaining.  At least on my end.  But the truth of the matter is we’d be a less accomplished “human being” today than we were a year ago, without those challenges.  I always say I’d prefer the yoga teacher who couldn’t touch their toes during their first class vs. the ex-dancer who can flop over, palms on the ground.  The teacher who had to struggle through the poses, learn how to engage the proper muscles and relax others…THAT’S the teacher who can articulate their journey and assist others along their own journey.

As a whole, 2013 gifted me countless challenges.  But I’ll freely admit, most of those challenges were things I feared doing, had put off, ran from, and/or chose to ignore to deal with.  SO they hung over my head like a dark cloud.  Maybe because the big 3-0 birthday is approaching, OR maybe it’s true and we do get wiser with age, but this year I faced a lot of fears head on.  Instead of trying to maneuver around them, which means they STILL exist, I went through a many of them…and with that comes freedom.  The weight of fear just slows us down!  The universe kindly reminded me of this when I reached this sign on my jog…

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On Friday night, I had an alumni basketball game at my High School.  It was so much fun.  And I still have my 3-pt shot, which the obnoxious showboat in my soul, loved.  I haven’t played basketball in close to a decade.  Eek!  That’s a terrifying reminder of the aging process.  Yet, I played well, had a blast, and ALL the anxiety that surrounded “what basketball meant to me,” fell to the way side.  I couldn’t help but think how much easier playing would have been ten years earlier, if I wasn’t bogged down by fear.

And with that lesson…I look forward to taking down 2014.

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

Swing Batter Batter Swing

It seems I’ve reached a transitional time in my life.  A recent discussion about life not being black and white has sparked a whirlpool of thoughts.

Yes, life is somewhere in the grey.  I fully believe in dancing upon the grey clouds and experiencing the various colors, shades, and hues life offers.  But to fully experience something, it requires diving whole-heartedly into one particular color at a time.  As my insightful friend Noopur said, “If everything is a shade of grey, you miss the beautiful details of life and people.”

Dancing along the surface allows dabbling and it’s necessary as a means of checking off which experiences you’d like to further explore.  At some point, however, the fleeting must cease and a standstill must ensue, in order to allow room for reflection and growth.

I’ve been reading “The Journey Home” (READ).  Radhanath Swami has traveled the world and met many spiritual masters at this point in the book.  He’s come to the conclusion he’s not going to reach enlightenment by experiencing a variety of religions and practices, but needs to pick one and follow through to the end.

My teacher told me this about two years ago when I was talking about reading everything under the sun from Kabala, to Yoga, to Christianity, to the esoteric practices of turn of the century mystics.  I had a theory that if I could learn EVERYTHING, the great answer would come to me.  In reality, the great answer is there to find, but you must truck along a particular path, persevere with patience, and follow through to the end.

I went to the batting cages last night.  It’s been about 4 years since I’ve hit a softball. It was like I hadn’t skipped a beat; I still have the same habits.  When the machine threw a bad pitch, I watched it sail by without swinging.  With careful selection, I chose which balls to swing at.  When strikes came, I swung and hit.  Says a mouthful about the details we pursue and the habits we engrain.

Carefully select the details you choose to pursue, swing, and follow through.  Otherwise you’re just swinging haphazardly hoping to hit something.