“I can’t run without my iPod.” This was a statement I was guilty of uttering, multiple times, on multiple occasions. What exactly did I hate? I explained (without ever being questioned) that I hated hearing myself breath and hearing my feet hit whatever terrain that was underneath them. It’s strange reading that statement; I’m known as an avid runner, but those words seem to claim that I hate everything that is running. I’m proud to say, I have finally unplugged. I made the decision to unplug (not just from my iPod, but my gps as well) when technology became more of a setback than a source of motivation. I couldn’t get my gps to work properly half the time and I noticed that I spent more time searching for that “right song” while running than enjoying my time out. I was unaware of what I was in for as I set my gps on my desk and left my iPod sitting next to it. I was loathing stepping out the front door as I imagined my heavy breathing and the sound of my footsteps on the pavement; little did I know that from that moment on I would be running to a new, self- composed, beat.
As I progressed up the hill out of my neighborhood, my breathing became more pronounced and I began to count my exhales to ten. I was never one for meditation (sitting still in silence makes me giggle) but I was advised by a college instructor that I could meditate while in motion and this was as good a time as any to try. I noticed that although sometimes my count exceeded ten as I forgot to restart, the pace of my counting remained the same. Just as I previously ran to the beat of a song, here I ran to the beat of my lungs. Now I confess that this is not the first time that I attempted to count exhales, but it was my first time being fully committed to what had earlier seemed as a tedious, useless task and I always quit, choosing to concentrate on my music instead. This time around I had no choice; before I was counting exhales just on the knowledge that I was exhaling, but now I felt and heard my lungs fill with air. I imagined what they looked like; I couldn’t escape my body if I tried.
I found that as I racked up the miles, my breathing remained constant and the sound of my feet seemed to follow the trend. As I tried to organize my thoughts on this new experience, I found that the counting of my breaths never diminished. I would zone out of the counting when deep in thought, but as one thought passed, its absence was replaced with a number. I questioned at first, whether this new experience was a division between body in mind, or a connection. At first I claimed division; my body was going and I didn’t have my mind slowing me down, analyzing the tunes streaming into my ears or the time ticking on my wrist. But once I realized that in the transition from thought to count, my count was always present, I concluded that there was actually an extremely strong connection between my mind and my body. This mind-body connection existed on a subconscious level, one present even when the rest of my mind was running in analytical circles.
My newly found mind-body connection became the source of my pace. As long as my breathing persisted, my legs kept up. It was as if my lungs were telling my legs, “It’s ok, keep going” and so they did. I finally reached my door, and for once, I didn’t have a watch to press stop on. I concluded my run with a walk around the neighborhood, during which I found myself still counting exhales, completely unintentionally. As my breaths slowed down the counting finally diminished. The run ended with no numbers and no concrete miles. I didn’t have an ending time by which I could analyze whether this was a great run, a mediocre run, or one that I should claim never even happened. But the idea of judging my run solely by numbers has now become ridiculous. I felt faster and my determination was stronger; this was a great a run even it lacked the proof of numbers.
Unplug. Don’t try to escape you body, listen to it instead. You may find that you are stronger and faster than any tune, or any watch was allowing you to be.
“We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way WE are.” - Talmud.