The best thing that happened to my running last year was that I learned to focus less on the destination, and more on the journey. I became less preoccupied with race times and PRs and more focused on the big picture. Priority was given to things like developing a strong and sustainable technique, and running in great company.
I’ve found that most of my success with running doesn’t come from racing itself, but in the effectiveness of my mental preparation beforehand. Meditation also requires preparation and a strong mind. And running meditatively, an amazing combination, never happens by accident. I’ve asked Alan to share about how we can help accomplish this before ever setting foot outside.
The goal of this journey is what one author has called “optimal experience.” Think of it as a feeling of spontaneous joy you get while doing something really, really well. In this case, the “something” is running, and the way to get to optimal is meditation.
Each of us is capable of optimal experience. A good starting point is to know that it’s achievable, and to work steadily towards it. Remember not to take the journey – or yourself – too seriously. Remember that meditation is, in a sense, the very highest form of play.
But meditation is also hard work. Lying on a hillside watching the clouds float by is not meditation. Thinking kind thoughts about other people is not meditation. Meditation requires discipline. You need to have a clear mind and you need to focus your attention. You need to practice often, and for sustained periods of time. Meditation, like old age, is not for wimps.
Meditation is very personal. You’ll have to find your own way. Test what you read here against your own experience. You are, to a very large extent, the author of your own reality, and what you explore, how you play, and what you learn will depend on you. Your meditation journey will be an ongoing “experiment of one.”
Meditation requires a certain mindset. That goes for each separate meditation exercise as well for as the long haul. Be cheerful, be optimistic, have faith in yourself and what you experience, and all will be well.
The basic dynamic in meditation is to go from body to mind and then to a sense of oneness. A yoga adept goes through a long period of training her body to behave before she learns to find mental stillness. An elite athlete often spends more time mentally preparing for a game or an event that he actually spends in the event itself.
The body and mind are not separate and discrete, as we’ve been taught to believe. There are, though, all sorts of barriers between the two before they merge in meditation. The most basic of those barriers are biochemical, and, if we can change the way our bodies work, we can then effect changes in our minds.
Next Tuesday’s post: Running tips for the journey.