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Lions Roar : May 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2012 20 Just as in running, in meditation we leave behind our daily concerns—the daydreaming, stress, and planning. We become very present. We enter into the now. By doing that, our mind builds strength. Our nervous system begins to relax. We develop appreciation and awareness. Our intelligence and memory become sharper. We are able to see the world from multiple perspectives. We are no longer imprisoned by emotional highs and lows. Love, compassion, and other positive qualities become more easily accessible. Just like running, when we finish meditat- ing, we feel refreshed, and much for the same reason: meditation is a natural, healthy activity. Developing a relationship with the breath is a key to medi- tation—and to running. If we develop a relationship with our breathing, we do not have to struggle with it as much. Intuitively, runners know this—we are essentially developing a relationship with the most elemental aspects of being alive. In meditation, placing our attention on the breathing takes the mind from day- dreaming, worrying, thinking, and fantasizing. It gives our mind something healthy to do. In running and in meditation, one of the biggest obstacles is laziness. One kind of laziness is basic slothfulness, in which we are unable to extract ourselves from the television or couch. In this case, just a little bit of exercise can send a message to the body that it is time to move forward. Even putting on workout clothes and beginning to stretch helps bring us out of our sloth. By the same token, sitting down to follow the breath for even five minutes has the power to move us out of laziness. Although the process of meditating is different from run- ning, the tools are the same: we need to be determined and exert ourselves. Obviously we will have challenges throughout our journey, but discipline, perspective, and perseverance lead to big rewards. People sometimes say, “Running is my meditation.” Even though I know what they mean, in reality, running is running and meditation is meditation. That’s why they have different names. It would be just as inaccurate to say, “Meditation is my exercise.” I have known some advanced meditators who have been able to bring their meditative mind—that strength and relaxation—into their body with its channels, nervous system, and muscles. They become strong, radiant, and resilient. In Tibet there is even a type of practice called heat meditation, in which yogis who are able to use their mind to control their body heat meditate in subzero conditions for months, wearing only a cot- ton shawl. However, it is unlikely that they would be able to run a marathon. I believe that with pure intention, you can bring almost any activity onto your spiritual path. My intention in running is to benefit others.