I live my life waiting for the sky to fall. I awake each morning wondering what of yesterday’s transgressions I’ll need to make amends for today. I wait with bated breath to see what kind of mood my lovely wife is in, my barometer that tells me how bad life is. I check my email to see what has failed at work, what I’ve forgotten to do, what I’ve messed up. I begin every day with the sense that all is not right with the world and it shows up as knots in my stomach. Breakfast has to wait everyday.
I’ve read a couple of Eckhart Tolle books in my time. While a lot of the concepts he discusses are a bit too flighty for my tastes, one that I continually come back to is focusing on the present moment. I’ve probably misconstrued some of his meaning with my interpretation, but regardless it helps me pull my head out of my constructed worry and somewhat successfully turn my days around. The practice is just as it sounds. Our worries are about things in the future or the past, not the present. My A.M. concerns are exactly that; they deal with thoughts of what might happen, or what has happened. Granted we all need to deal with those things at some point in our lives, they have no bearing on the very, precise moment we’re living in at any given moment. In that sense, these worries are completely external to us, they are not “us”. When we focus on the present moment, we free ourselves of these external concerns and become impervious to them.
When I run, after panting through my warm up, all things just drift away from me. I become my breathing, the monotony of my soles touching the trail, nerve endings within my skin sensing a breeze. Running opens up this opportunity to connect with the present moment, in fact it forces the present upon me. I’ve no choice but to pay attention. Every once in a while if I’m very lucky – and this is absolute bliss – I run so deeply into myself, into that present moment, that my body begins to tingle. It isn’t at all subtle, and it elevates my movement and makes the effort non-existent. If I could live every moment like that I would gladly do so, but for now it requires running shoes and a lot of sweat and heavy breathing.