Friday, August 17, 2007

this is what a good day's work looks like

Saving Yourself - Saving the World - Planting Seeds

I've been reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.

Campbell puts forth, among other things, that one of the values of myths is their ability to illuminate truth and help us understand ourselves and our place in the world. They are not about the search for meaning, but about the experience of meaning.

For Campbell, changing the world requires changing ourselves. He imparts that we must save ourselves first.

"The influence of a vital person vitalizes...the world without spirit is a wasteland. People have a notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules and so forth...The thing to do is to bring life to become alive yourself."

For Campbell, by bringing life to ourselves and "following our bliss," we bring life to the world.
As I conquer new challenges, I reaffirm the necessity and power of change.

When I realize that I need to sleep differently, eat differently, drink differently, schedule things differently, exercise differently, think differently, interact with the world differently, I confirm the power of positive change to lead me along the Good Long Road. Changing myself is absolutely necessary if I am to bring vitality and energy to the world -- and if I am to save myself.

Plant some seeds of your own. Follow your bliss. Now is the time. 

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Conquering The Beast (A Running Meditation)

They call this trail “The Beast.” It is uphill the whole way, 4.86 miles to the top. When I first read about it, I was skeptical. Could it really be uphill for almost five miles? One Wednesday morning, as part of my training, I decided to find out.
As I struggled up the first three-quarters of a mile, which are considered the most difficult, I had already decided that its name and reputation were warranted. An absolutely unrelenting climb, it is a beast.
Yet worth all of the effort, I discovered, continuing upward. Further away from the traffic below, winding around different curves, I found view after breathtaking view. Beautiful canyon walls stood high on either side of the trail, gorgeous mountains rising up in the distance.

I stopped--simply to take in the view. Surprised not to find myself fatigued or cramping, I breathed deeply. Inhaling, I took in the clear beauty of the world around me. The magnificence of Mother Nature overwhelmed me. Being devoured by the Beast was nothing like I had imagined. I felt myself moving inside it, its unfettered beauty all around me.
My mind traveled to a place I had visited once in Thailand. I stumbled upon an inviting temple in Bangkok and ventured inside, looking to meditate. Seeing my attempt was not going so well, an observant nun invited me to join her for a “walking meditation.” She taught me to concentrate on my breathing, to be mindful of my body, to be present to the meditation as a process I was experiencing.
Returning my attention to the Beast, I drew on my experience in Thailand and sought to complete the run with a meditative focus--a “running meditation,” if you will . . .
right, left, right – breathe in
left, right – breathe out
left, right, left – breathe in
right, left – breathe out
right, left, right – focus in
left, right – breathe out (exhaling stress)
left, right, left – focus in (there is tension in my right shoulder)
right, left – release the tension
right, left, right – focus in
left, right – tension out
Repeat. Repeat. Climb.