August 12, 2015

Your Morning Run is Not a Meditation Practice.


We live in a world that calls almost anything meditation these days.

Running, yoga, cooking, eating, reading, dancing…even sitting on the toilet is now referred to as opportunities to be meditating.

We are told that there are so many ways to meditate that basically we can take anything we are already doing and label it meditation and presto we have multi-tasked and become a better person without even having to change our personal schedule or choices at all.

Well, I am here to say that this is hogwash, in my opinion.

But the way I know this is kind of embarrassing.

This is where I need to confess.

I know this because I’ve barely meditated this summer.

My meditation pillow is presently crammed into a Rubbermaid container somewhere in the spare room while all my yoga mats are rolled up tight under my bed and my hips haven’t been folded into a crossed legged position in months.

This isn’t unusual for me, though.

I often don’t practice meditation in the summer. Maybe it is the long days and short nights and the pull of so many things to do and I know when the nights get cold and the darkness returns I will go running to my pillow, closing my eyes before I’ve hardly sat down, longing for the deepness of being in meditation.

I also know a lot of the reason I don’t meditate in the summer is laziness. I let myself off the hook and just don’t get to it.

And that is perfectly fine.

But I also know the other activities I’m doing such as gardening, kayaking, reading, dancing and cuddling my children also don’t replace formal meditation practice.

I can use what I’ve learned in my meditation practice to enhance these experiences and I do use it and everyone should. That is the point of meditating. To bring the mindfulness we gain by developing focus and attention to everything in our lives.

But doing so is not the same thing as meditating itself.

The only way to understand this is direct experience.

You see there have been times this summer that I have sat quietly wherever I happen to be and closed my eyes and followed my breath and dropped into another space and time I am familiar with and each time I have I’m reminded of the real life experience of being in meditation and I’m reminded that it looks and feels nothing like moving my paddle through water or tickling my daughter under the armpits.

And I’m not a runner but it isn’t a big jump of faith to say that being in a deep state of meditation is also not the same as running.

Are they both valuable?

Absolutely, running and meditating and all these other activities are valuable.

But they are not the same.

And it is really important we don’t confuse them.

We can all too swiftly dilute the power of our own knowledge of meditating by starting to confuse it with all the other activities we do on a day.

Yes, we can always notice our breath.

Yes, we can always keep our attention on the concrete sensual experiences happening in the moment.

These are things we learn how to do through meditating.

But we can’t always be meditating.

Sometimes we just have to do what we have to do and that could be dusting off our meditation pillow or finding a comfortable chair or signing up for a meditation class or retreat for support. And we need to sit down and follow our breath and stay within ourselves as we become familiar with all our little inner idiosyncrasies while we stay quiet and just be there. Just like that. Nothing more. No running. No cooking. No nothing. Just meditating.


Relephant Read:

100 Days of Daily Meditation.


Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Travis May

Photo: elephant journal


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