Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

This morning, my brother picked up the rest of his Neolithic food. He told me we could keep it, said he worried we weren’t eating enough, etc. And I assured him last night that we were just fine, thank you and that he needed food more than we. I was glad he thought of us, but we don’t eat canned soup, creamed corn or sugar and flour any more, and he does, so…

I was glad to see it go.

(om mani padme hum)
(letting go)

Way back in April Lama Jigme suggested I change my diet. At the time I topped out at 237 pounds, and had trouble getting from one room to another. I couldn’t do one single solitary prostration.

I have chronic asthma, could walk short distances but it hurt my feet and didn’t do it too much. And after trying a multitude of diets I had come to the conclusion that nothing would work and I’d be fat forever. And fat was delighted.

I put the kibosh on that. Quick. Fast. And inna hurry.

But back to the entry.

That is until Lama Jigme coaxed me into trying the paleo diet. I rolled my eyes, thinking, oh great. This is the last thing I need. Another diet that doesn’t work. I was concerned after all, about the lack of grains or dairy in the diet plan and figured it was just another fad diet. And again, worried that my blood sugar would tank and I’d end up in the ER…again…

None of those things happened. What did happen was the discovery that I was hugely lactose intolerant and whole grains interfere not only with my blood sugar, but also with my asthma.

And after a few weeks of gentle persuasion, I agreed, told JW who rolled his eyes and said that he wasn’t giving up meat and I told him that wouldn’t be a problem.

So, we changed our eating habits. We passed by the pasta aisles. We exchanged wheat and rice for lean meat, fish (when we can afford it) fresh fruits and veggies. We stopped (for the most part) ingesting sugar. That is the last obstacle.

We worried at first that this diet plan wouldn’t fit into our food budget but found out quickly that by exchanging the refined things for the raw things the budget didn’t change much. We found also, that we ate pretty much this way anyway, all we did was strip out the excess refined foods and useless carbs and fats. We still have to make an occasional trip to the food pantry but that was no different than before. This month, however, we didn’t have to and I’m glad for that.

Now, after five months, I can say that my health has vastly improved. Not only can I walk, but as you know I’m running. Every time I lace up my shoes and go outside in the mornings I can’t believe it. I’m running. I’m not only doing that, but contemplating my first 5k.

(thank you my kind teacher)

My outlook on life is changing as well. Now that I’m properly nourished, getting sunshine and exercise (all as Lama suggested) I find myself more optimistic, hopeful and far more cheerful. More importantly, my daily meditation practice has significantly improved—a side effect I wasn’t expecting. I no longer zone out or get bored and let my mind wander. I no longer care that my nose itches during practice or my toosh is getting numb.

. Now, I find myself meditating spontaneously, free from the confines of perceptions and self imposed constructs. I find serene awareness, especially during those early morning runs. That is the best time in the world, I think. When the sun is just coming up over the horizon. Everything feels so fresh and clean and new. And very sacred.

Once I get my stride, my mind focuses, my breathing improves, and while I’m concentrating on form (and not running over the dog when she’s jogging alongside me) my mind settles down into a state of serene awareness. Not quite bliss, but rather a heightened state of awareness. There is no thought, no distraction, no fear. For those few moments, everything seems so clear.

I become conscious of my pulse, my lungs expanding and contracting under my ribcage. I am aware of the soft coolness of early morning; catch the scents of early autumn. The smell of damp, of decaying leaves. The aroma of burning wood. The sensation of things winding down.

And then, the burning in the calves and thighs, the slapping of the leash against my leg, Tsuki’s nearness as she jogs alongside; my breath becoming less rhythmic and more labored, sweat prickles on my brow. It’s time to let go. Slow down. Walk…Rest…then return to serene awareness.

And while walking, I perform another meditation practice. It’s brief and easy. It’s one of the first things Lama Jigme taught me. The first two exercises are done as three syllables, the last exercise as one.

What is this?
Let-ting go.

Let-ting go


Answering the questions is unimportant. What’s important is the asking, and by the asking, the subconscious files them away to mull over at its leisure.

And then the prayer:

May everyone be happy
May everyone be free from misery
May everyone never be separated from
Their happiness.
May everyone have balance
Free from greed hatred and confusion
So that all beings may benefit
Om mani padme hum.

I found that by doing ujai breathing during the walking interval while mentally reciting the above exercises works really well. The ujai breathing is most useful because it fills the lungs to capacity and aids in rhythmic breathing.

And, like the meditation practice, I have to let the entire run go. The exertion, the sweat, the feet pounding on the asphalt street. The dog padding along beside me, her head low, her mouth open, grinning, obviously delighted to be running too. The scent of fresh air, the sun peeking just above the horizon. The gold and purple tints of early morning.

I let it all go; along with the moments of serene awareness between walking intervals as well. The run, of course, like any good meditation practice, must be deconstructed, each element taken apart like a collection of tinker toys, and put away.

I could tell you how it’s done.
But I think it’d be more fun if Lama Jigme told you.
He is, after all, the instigator of all of this.



Be polite.