Getting Close to Nowhere
I recently had the opportunity to participate in some guided meditation classes. Joining in with a group of about 15 others, we gathered in a large room that was part of a beautiful Episcopalian church and sat in a circle. Some sat on cushions, others sat on chairs. Over the course of the 75 minute class, we sat in silence, we were guided through breathwork and we walked slowly in a circle together. At the end of the class, there was the opportunity for each participant to share something with the group -- usually an anecdote about how the meditation classes had been beneficial in their lives.
I enjoyed the classes, but after I had to miss a few due to my own schedule, I never went back. Between my son’s sports schedule, summer travel and other activities, the Sunday night time slot just didn’t work for me. Well, I didn't make it work for me.
Earlier this month, I went out for a long run. The sun was shining, and the temperature was a beautiful 70 degrees. It’s been a brutally hot and humid summer which is my very least favorite weather for running. I found myself thinking that I was getting closer. But getting closer to what? Getting closer to running longer distances? Getting closer to running in good weather? Getting closer to my post-run protein shake?
I’ve always thought of running as a way for me to clear my mind. For 30 minutes or 2 hours, I can’t do anything else except put one foot in front of the other. There’s no point thinking about all the things I have to do, or worry about all the things I have to worry about, when I’m running, because, in that moment, there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to just keep running.
And all of a sudden I realized that my running is in fact my church-basement mediation class. Sometimes I run in silence, sometimes I run with others, and sometimes I run listening to music. But every time I run I am only running. If my thoughts get away from me, I focus on the music, or on my footsteps. If my breath gets away from me, I take a long deep inhale and fully exhale and I am back in my run. All the things I learned in that meditation class were things I already knew and already did.
I was getting closer to nowhere. Which was exactly where I wanted to be.