The Breath

I finally started reading Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham.  I’m only on chapter 5, so the jury is still out on what I think about the whole book.  But I wanted to blog about what I did last night.  The book apparently will teach you the basics of meditation and relate them to running somehow.

One of the earlier chapters focuses on the first steps of meditation, which focus on The Breath (i.e. your breathing).  The rationale is apparently that you have to strengthen your mind, in order to meditate successfully.  We, as a society, are so busy busy busy that our minds are racing from one thought to the next, constantly.  And so it takes WORK and mindfulness to think about nothing.  On this, I definitely agree.  My mind is ALWAYS racing – with work and kid and life stuff zipping through it faster than I can keep up.

So, on some levels, the thought of meditating and slowing down my mind and concentrating on nothing but The Breath sounded appealing to me.  It sounds relaxing and Lord knows that I could use some relaxing!

But then my logical, type-A mind started in, as I was reading about how to meditate, and it was saying “This sounds so stupid to sit still for 10 or 20 or more minutes and just breathe.  I have things I could be doing!  I have emails to return.  A house to clean.  Calls to make.  Things to DO.  Sitting still for an extended period of time would be such a waste of time!”

So I tried it.  The book suggested setting a timer and just starting out with 10 minutes for your first session.  And so I did.  I sat there, upright, relaxed, eyes closed (I found if I kept them open, I was too distracted), and trying to just focus on my breathing.  And it was initially very hard to focus – I kept thinking about emails and texts and my to-do list and crap that had upset me during the day.  But the author had said it was ok to be distracted when you are trying to figure out how to meditate – because it is hard – and so the author suggested that every time you got distracted, to return your thinking to The Breath.  So I kept doing that.  And I really did start to relax.  And push THINKING out of my mind.  And it wasn’t horrible to just sit there for 10 minutes.

I will admit that I don’t entirely get it yet.  But I could see myself doing at least what I did last night – 10 minutes of focusing on nothing but The Breath – right before bed, because it did help to calm me down a bit after a crazy day.

Not quite sure yet how the author is going to relate all of this to running, because to me it seems like meditation is the opposite of why I run.  When I run I use it as my time to think and process and figure stuff out, not to veg out and NOT think.  Stay tuned for a full book report later.

******

In running news, Meg did not end up running the mile yesterday.  She got hurt just before and during the 4×800 – something with her back, so that she could barely walk and the trainer ended up telling her not to run the mile.  So bummed that she worked so hard all season long and then couldn’t compete in the last meet!

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