Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

One of the really uplifting messages that comes out frequently on these tri blogs are the amazing things that an “average” person can accomplish if she puts her mind to it and perseveres (with the emphasis on perseveres). All of the stories of weight loss and of personal transformation are truly inspiring.

I’ve been thinking about all of this as it relates to another area of my life, one that is at least as important to me as my athletic/triathlon endeavors are. That area is my own personal spiritual development. I’m not a church-going guy, never have been, and organized religion is not right for me (no offense to anyone, just sharing my true feelings), although I respect that it is for millions of others. I practice my own personal brand of spirituality, which I would describe as “mystic Christianity” or “cosmic Christianity”. My spirituality incorporates aspects of both Eastern and Western faiths and mysteries. Those whose works have guided me include Rudolf Steiner, Ken Wilber, Yogananda Paramahansa, Mahatma Gandhi, MLK, Edgar Cayce and Eckhart Tolle.

My daily early morning time of practicing my spirituality was focused for many years mostly around prayer. However, that all shifted about two years ago to be more of a focus on meditation (although the prayer was very “meditative” in nature). One of the earliest types of meditation that I worked with was the Zen practice of “awareness”. More recently, my meditation sessions go through a series of different aspects, one of which is “awareness”. I have come to the conclusion that the mental discipline required in meditation, and especially in “awareness,” is the most difficult thing that I’ve ever tried to do. (If you want to see what I mean, just try to hold a single thought or concept, uninterrupted by any other thought, for 60 seconds.) I fail about twice as often as I succeed in having what I would consider a “high quality” meditation session, but that makes the good ones even more sweet.

I’ve learned from my athletic activities what years of dedicated, disciplined hard work can yield. It is absolutely amazing what you can train your body to do over such a period of time. Things that were once unthinkable, such as 60 mile training rides or 15 mile training runs, become routine and almost easy. I know that this same logic applies to spiritual work as well. That’s what drives me each morning to go down in my basement and sit on my cushion for 20 minutes! I eagerly await the fruit of this work (although my eagerness reflects my spiritual immaturity). I’ve recently had a real breakthrough in my efforts, and I know that more will come.

I’ll be sharing some thoughts in the future about how to carry meditation into athletic training. I’d be interested in comments from others who share an interest in this important aspect of life.

Rudolf Steiner-------------------Yogananda Paramahansa--------------Ken Wilber

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