Last Sunday, I ran in a 10km fun run around Sydney Olympic Park, the home of the 2000 Sydney Olympics (yes, we Sydneysiders still cling onto that fainting good memory). The thing that I enjoyed as much as the actual race itself was the quiet moment after it, sitting there by myself with icy cold drinks nursing my sticky hot sweats.
To me, very few moments in life rival those just after a run (casual or race) in terms of the zen-like serenity that washes over me. In those moments, I find I am completely at one with myself, as well as with the present – a rather unique feeling for a mind that normally wonders off in thousand different directions. As anyone who is taking up meditation for the first time would appreciate, sitting still and focusing solely on one’s breathing is a surprisingly difficult exercise. The sudden silence is deafening and all sorts of random jibbering thoughts begin doing their best to pierce that uncomfortable silence. In addition, after only few minutes, the mind (and the body) starts to exhibit withdrawal symptoms from not having checked email, voicemail, text or Facebook, increasingly anxious about what earth-shattering news it is missing out on.
However, after a run, sitting still and focusing solely on my breathing come very naturally to me. It helps that my legs are burning from the run so I have no choice but to sit still. It also helps that my heart rate is elevated and, therefore, I cannot help but focus on my heavy breathing and listen to its gradual recovery. Whatever the driving factors are, I get easily lulled into a meditative state of mind after a run, with the zen-like peacefulness further enhanced from having a cold drink in hand to quench the thirst, and a warm feeling in heart to appease the soul.
So, there I was after the fun run last Sunday, mellowing in this calmness that some people may call “runners’ high”. I must have sat there for more than an hour, enjoying the feeling of tranquility to which my amateurish writing can never hope to do justice in describing. Then I turned on my phone, checked my email, voicemail, text and Facebook, only to find that, no, I did not miss out on any earth-shattering news while I was offline and disconnected to everything except me and myself.
Keep on pounding.
PS: My sincere commiserations to all those NYC Marathon runners who never got to run last Sunday due to its cancellation. If I was in your situation, I would be devastated too, given the heart and soul I would have put into training for the event. However, I take my hat off to all those who set aside the disappointment and provided a helping hand in the clean-up effort post Hurricane Sandy. You people are simply ALL CLASS!