Among the many reasons why I need running in my life (as opposed to strictly yoga, yoga, and more yoga) is the space it allows me to think. Some runners call it “meditation,” but, to be fair, this is inaccurate—partly because thinking can involve so many f-bombs while running.
When I meditate on a zafu cushion or yoga mat, my goal is to observe my thoughts, remain in the present moment, and just be. If brooding, speculating, or daydreaming occurs, I practice detachment and the patient, sometimes painstaking, skill of staying focused on the moment as it’s unfolding. When I run, I do the opposite. I let my mind go there. I brood. I speculate. I daydream. I visualize. I talk to myself. I talk to other people (in my head). I write blog posts that may or may not ever see the light of day, which means—in a way—I talk to you. Sometimes, I sing (be thankful you’re not around to hear this). Occasionally, I feel like I discover some huge secret of the universe. It usually happens somewhere around the Mass Ave. bridge at sunset, and it’s not so much a big secret as the assured, faith-filled feeling that there are no secrets, that the answers I need have been with me all along, like Dorothy and her ruby slippers and the ability to go home whenever she wanted.
Instead of red ruby slippers, I have neon Nike frees, and I’m not clicking the heels together as much as I’m kicking them up behind me to propel myself forward (and faster). I’m not meditating on the present moment as much as I am thinking about what’s next. Both are essential: observing what is and planning what you want—out of life or for dinner. For me, these are embodied in complementary mindsets cultivated through yoga and running, meditating and thinking. I like the way they go together—like the two sneakers on my feet, one for the left, one for the right; together, the perfect pair.