When I decided to write a book about running and meditation, I knew it would have to be about more than these two disciplines. It would have to be a book about freedom, ease, and the joy of movement. It would be about mind, body, and their interrelatedness. It would speak about the power of stillness and silence and the ways in which we can use that power in our lives.
My premise is simple. I believe it’s more fulfilling to live life awake than asleep, and that meditation is the most powerful and effective way to help us do this. I’ve been practicing zazen for more than two decades, and I can attest to its power. But I also know that zazen alone will not help us to live an awakened life. As difficult as sitting still and quiet for long hours can be, it’s nothing compared to the challenge of taking that same stillness, concentration, and insight into everything that we do. So we must learn to make the transition between stillness and movement, being and doing.
First we need to learn to move into stillness to make contact with our basic clarity and wisdom. Then from that stillness, we must move out into activity, letting that clarity inform the way we live day to day. This is the functioning of compassion. And while I wouldn’t claim that jogging a few miles a day will cause us to get enlightened or become more compassionate, I do see running meditation as an excellent entry point into the deep exploration of the nature of body and mind within daily life. More importantly, running zazen—which I call still running—can show us that fundamentally there is no difference between stillness and movement, body and mind, self and other.
Still Running is based on the material I’ve used in the running retreats I developed over the last ten years. The mantras, visualizations, and other practices I’ve designed over the years help runners develop awareness of themselves, not just as physical beings, but also as emotional and spiritual creatures. To me, this is an essential component of awakening: to gain access to the full range of our being so that we can live in harmony with ourselves and with one another.
There’s no question that as a form of exercise running can help to keep our minds fresh and focused, our bodies healthy. But with a bit more effort, still running can also teach us something about who we are.
Still Running: The Art of Meditation in Motion will be published by Shambhala Publications in the summer of 2020.