Photo: Miss Menighan
It brings the peace I crave, says this runner.
Yoga soothes the body when the body gives all to honor the soul, for athletes of all levels and motivations.
BY MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR CYGNUS JONES
I am a runner.
I am not one of those speedy runners you see out there who zip by so fast you weren’t sure you actually saw them. No, you definitely know it’s me coming down the road. In fact, you have plenty of time to not only recognize me, as you drive by, but also to think to yourself, “Huh, I didn’t know she ran. She looks tired. Maybe I should stop and offer her a ride.”
I run and I do a little biking (when my knees hurt too much to run) and I do a little yoga (when everything hurts and I am reminded that there are other parts of my body that need some love, too). Over the last few years since I have taken up this trio of activities I’ve managed to build up enough strength and endurance that I have become drawn to running longer and longer distances. When I share this with non-runners they all ask me the same thing; “Isn’t that boring?” It is hard to explain why I love the time I spend running.
What on earth do you think about for fifteen miles in a row?
The true answer to the question is that I don’t think about much of anything at all.
The running itself requires so much of me that I am incapable, really, of thinking, too. The brain shuts down, the lungs power the heart and the feet and the body just follows along. The senses kick in and I am able to truly enjoy my surroundings in a way I cannot otherwise. I am absorbed by the sound of birds, screeching squirrels, the almost hypnotic smell of honeysuckle on back country roads, and the crunching of gravel under my feet.
For mile after mile I am aware of these things and of the sound of my breath and my mind, which, usually a blender of activity, is totally quiet. Herein lies the source of the attraction for me.
I have not mastered the art of calming my mind.
Yet, I continue to try, with a menu of attempts at meditation, silent retreats, and counseling. I truly recognize not only the necessity but also the benefit of practice, still like so many of us, I am my own worst enemy.
I find myself latching onto thoughts about things all day long that may or may not even be true and spinning them into fodder for doubt and worry. Before my feet even hit the ground in the morning I can convince myself that something may or may not happen that day and have already processed a Plan B in the event that it does.
The cycle of hyper thought is more exhausting to me than any of the miles I have ever run.
Last weekend our route took us past a small church. The title of the sermon was posted on a sign in the parking lot, “Saved from Ourselves,” it read. I suddenly knew exactly what they meant.
Running is my salvation from the thoughts that otherwise drive me to complete distraction giving me the peace I so desperately need and crave and cannot access any other way.
Each successive step keeps another thought at bay and I feel sometimes that I could just run on forever. It’s as if I leave my self parked back with my car and run away for an hour or two with the blissful, quiet and thoughtless divine. It is not about the destination, or the pace, it is truly about the escape.
Tempting though it may be, if you see me out there, please resist the urge to pick me up. Trust me, I’m exactly where I need to be.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.