five thirty in the morning. The week before Carnival. A woman runs round
the Savannah, again and again and again and again and again and again and
again. Eight times. A man on a day off watches and approaches her, runs
alongside her on her seventh round.
me, what are you doing?”
training for the marathon.”
heard something about people like you.”
woman keeps running, thinking I just want to run and run and run till I
make my 18 miles and not talk.
hear that everyone who runs marathons is crazy.”
know this woman well. I’ve run with her. Up to 13 miles. But after that
she leaves me way behind, hobbling on my hurt feet, because she runs up
Chancellor and down again. Twice. Superwoman I call her. How she juggles
two children a six day workweek, a home, husband, family, friends?
understand the addiction. I ran my first marathon last year and wanted to
do a decent time this year.
short breaths in, two short breaths out, one minute more, two minutes
more. The lungs protested. The feet hurt. No more. No more. I stop,
sometimes after six, eight or ten miles. My foot injury won’t let me.
All year long I’ve pored over running and nutrition books for athletes,
woken up at 5 am to run around the Savannah or time my run up Lady
Chancellor Hill. I’ve taken my running shoes to Boston, Venezuela, Miami
and London. Gone to bed clutching a dream. Woken up clutching it.
talk to people you read books and the papers, and everybody’s got their
own demons to wrestle with. Even you, reading this. Money, illness,
misunderstandings, loneliness, loss, regret whatever.
two breaths in, two breaths out, is not madness, it’s prayer. I
discovered that when I went to a meditation workshop this week with my
usual bag of cynicism. Sri Vasudev of Blue Star was speaking. I went for
the same reasons people read self-help books, practise religions and
rituals, smoke, drink, take drugs, travel to the Himalayas or join groups.
Looking for something.
met him a few times and finally I have to say this man is the real deal.
(No I’m not going soft on you). On this evening, he traced his path to
spirituality by evoking his younger 18, 19-year-old questioning self.
Asking “Why are we here?” “Why be born with longings of immortality
only to age and die?”
question he asked that really interested me was this. “Wouldn’t you
like to control your mind?” You mean, not be pushed about by emotions
like anger, be glad one minute, sad the next? Yes. He described thoughts
in a way that would appeal to everyone who’s used a computer. There is
the observer (your core, the spirit that never ages) and the thought. You
can observe, the thought, be amused by it, or angered, even but you are
not the thought. You are not controlled by it. You have the power simply
to delete it, and type in another one, something more positive.
he asked us to meditate. To concentrate on our breathing, on one thought,
and someone we loved.
20 minutes in a community centre in St Augustine, this cynic was amazed.
Running and control of the mind coincided. In my head I was running on a
sun dappled leafy path with someone I loved. Two breaths in, two out. We
ran together weaving in and out of this forest. The meditation was over.
he talked about the power of everyday choices—to live automatically or
in a perpetual state of meditation, at the complexity of human cells as
you eat, at the suns in stars at night, at the revolving earth beneath
your feet as you walk.
the runner and the guru discovered a way to beat up the demons. It’s not
so separate. Controlling the mind, seeing its power, banishing despair,
holding on to wonder, a breath at a time.