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Running and buddhism

November 11, 2010

(Trail) Running is more than an object. It’s a source. A well. It’s a place where you can fly and fall. It’s a place for you – not only for your thoughts but also for your non-thoughts. A place for un-thinking. It’s a place where you can practise being present, the opposite of the unconscious stream of thoughts, feelings and images. It’s a place where you can be without words. Just look at the things the way they are, without any mental labeling, without judging. Also your own running.

Where are you when you are running? Are you making any choices? Are you being free? Are you being present?

“The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuosly unfolds within and around you. In this way, cleverness may be gained, but wisdom is lost, and so are joy, love, creativity, and aliveness.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Being free from words and mental labeling isn’t all that easy, because we are used to listen to our egos, the voices that tells us what we should feel. But we can watch our egos, and we can watch our stream of thoughts. We do have a choice. We don’t have to be prisoners of our habitual thinking. There are ways to change that. You can actually chose your approach to things. To running. I don’t say that thinking is wrong when you are running. I’m just saying that as long as you are thinking you are also unaware, un-present. Being present while running will transform your running into beauty.

Recently I read an interview with actor Jeff Bridges in Tricycle, a magazine about Buddhism. Bridges, who has been living with buddhism a decade or so, said he had great use of it in his daily life. Practically, what he suggests resemble what I’m trying to say here on my blog, applied to running:

1. “Approach all situations with a joyful mind. Let’s have a good time! Let’s have fun!”

2. “Get the beauty of the way it is!”

3. “Things that we have labeled negatively are real opportunities for us to wake up. The very things you avoid, those are the blessings.” (uphills, puddles, rocky, slippery trails…)

4. “The habitual tendency when things get tough is that we protect ourselves, we get hard, we get rigid … but that’s the time to soften and see how we might play or dance with the situation. Then everything is workable.”

5. Enjoy being there. Relax! Don’t try to force your thing onto the thing.

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