Saturday, February 04, 2017

Running Meditation

A good run and workout at the park early this morning completely rejuvenated my system. It was much needed after all the gluttony and food-induced torpor of the Chinese New Year festivities. A good exercise session is like rebooting your computer: you get to clear away all the background processes that are hogging your memory and restart again with a clean slate.

I've been running on and off at the same park here at my neighbourhood for more than a decade now. The park is located just beside the mosque about 10 minutes walk from my home. I enjoy waking up to the sound of the azan, which is the time when I usually go for my run.

As the handful of faithfuls stream to the mosque, I run my routine 6 circuits around the park. Running when it is still dark with the crisp morning air coursing through my lungs is extremely invigorating. All vestiges of the previous night's sleep are wiped away, setting myself up perfectly for a productive day ahead.

I even turn my morning runs into sort of a meditation session. You see, some people, like the author Murakami, listen to music; others let their minds wander aimlessly when they run. I prefer to "meditate".

What I do is that I embark on a session of Buddhist loving-kindness meditation in my mind as I run, mapping each phase of the meditation into a single circuit around the park. That way, I get to kill two birds with one stone: exercising both the mind and the body. The distinct phases of the meditation also helps me to 'count' the number of rounds I've completed.

I simply love this running meditation practice of mine. Meditating in close proximity to a mosque also puts one into the right reverential state of mind. After my run, I do a series of calisthenics making use of the exercise and children play stations that are available in the park.

My exercise session closes with some deep breathing, a routine involving outstretched arms, open chest and toe-touching--all these facing the minaret of the mosque. This breathing 'puja' is a great warm-down routine, allowing my tired limbs and torso to stretch and relax. Sometimes I also do some breathing meditation here: focusing on the in-breath and out-breath, allowing my body to merge with the dew-covered greenery of the park.

When I finish my session and start walking away from the park, the aunties will start trickling in for their morning walks and tai-chi sessions. Usually the sun will be rising, with the LRT rumbling in the distant, shuttling the early commuters to their workplace. Every time I get to complete a session at the park, I feel confident that my the day ahead will be harmonious and productive. I'm not a religious person, but my morning exercise is the closest thing that I have to a worship ritual. And I'm all the healthier, mentally and physically, for it.

No comments: