Sunday, November 8, 2009

Core Contemplation

The trainer gave me these core exercises. I worked on them for six weeks and noticed a slow reshaping of my abdomen. I mentioned to her that they didn’t seem to be stressful; that is, I don’t strain to do them. She said that was right. Therein lies the contemplation. Doing the exercises slowly and mindfully, concentrating on working only certain muscles, the stomach develops the desired definition and strength.

The exercises are a combination of subtle moves (move only this, a little and slowly), and stillness (keep that flat, still). Awareness, concentration, discipline and ambivalence are required skills. The ego gets nothing from these exercises. You cannot do these exercises without doing them slowly.

LSD, Long Slow Distance, is another point of contemplation. I ran 7+ laps around a park this morning; 20 miles at a little over 10 minutes per mile. I was going nowhere slowly. I thought about my spiritual lesson for today and my mantra became the one line which stuck: His (God’s) answer is the only one I want. This sentence went around and around my head and I barely thought beyond it. The girl running slowly through the park, just doing time, at last questioned, “Why am I out here?” I had no reason to be doing LSD. I had no reason to do 20 miles of LSD; especially after a strenuous race yesterday. LSD does not shape the abdomen like my core exercises. I don’t look great. I still have flabby thighs. Just exactly why? Shoot, I’ve been a distance runner for 35 years. It is the one thing that has been in my life the longest.

The answer may never be decided; but it may be contemplated. Running, above all else, is what made me uncomfortable in religious life. Running makes me uncomfortable around the sedentary who don't understand it. I'm a runner. I run. I'm an athlete. I eat only this and I lift weights and I run. This is my main interest in life. It still freaks me out that some many people dis me for it.

A guy in the gym asked me why anyone would give their life to God. Why not? Contemplation is about integrating the spiritual into everything. Yes, I weave silence and endorphins into my God quest. I have been cursed with an unquenchable thirst for the Almighty. I see that many people have not and they look askance at me. Like running, I am often dis-ed for my contemplative life. I guess I just have to accept this.

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