Friday evenings have become my time for jogging and meditation. I enjoyed another 5K run tonight while listening to a podcast by Tara Brach, a leading Buddhist teacher. Last time I posted on jogging, I wrote about my fear of pain being the primary obstacle to jogging. Tonight I practiced a mindful awareness of my bodily sensations instead of fearing or avoiding them.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, especially to an avoidant type like myself, the simple act of acknowledging what is and naming it reduces its power over us and often causes an immediate change. Instead of being overwhelmed with unpleasant sensation, I become a detached observer noticing specific sensations. And once I notice them, it often allows me to make small changes that bring relief.
Tonight I spent the last mile observing and naming my sensations: My right knee hurts, my stomach is in a knot, my head is hot, my breathing is shallow, my spine is compressed. In each case, I found that I could ease my suffering. I realized for the first time that I was turning my right foot out a bit, causing knee pain, so I turned it in. When I ran more erect, the knot in my stomach uncoiled and the pressure on my spine was relieved. When I focused on my breathing, it deepened and my head felt less hot. This was an important practice that reminded me experiencially of the value of awareness and investigation of what is rather than avoiding what is unpleasant.
These Friday night jogs at the park have become a spiritually renewing discipline for me, giving me a reflective space to evaluate how I am living my values and to practice them with greater intention.