Saturday, May 23, 2015

Going the Distance

By Jon Dunnemann

At least three times a week, for the last month, I have begun my day with a mixed meditative walk and jog. I remain deeply inspired by my father-in-law who ran up into his eighties, before he was sadly stricken with cancer, and could no longer muster the physical strength required while at the same time undergoing his very draining treatment protocol. Dad, as I called him, was a highly disciplined man and a retired Army Command Sergeant Major.

The ability to see any task through to its completion is one of the personal attributes that I admired most about Dad. It bolstered important, positive and lasting results not only throughout his life but continues to produce a powerful ripple effect in the lives of the rest of his family members and a number of his closest friends.

This quintessential element of his life practice is a constant reminder for me that whenever we set our minds to doing something really well that forward progress does not begin until we take appropriate and purposeful action. In other words, nothing ever really gets accomplished without our making the necessary physical, mental or spiritual effort. This as it turns out, is rarely an easy task. Nevertheless, if your plan is to actually go the full distance then you must be capable of pushing yourself to the point of taking that all important first step that sets all other subsequent things in motion.

For example, yesterday morning, I felt particularly encumbered by the pain that I was experiencing in my hips, knees and ankles at the outset of my exercise routine. Because it was my third time out for the week, I felt as though I might have to actually limit my exercise to only walking the nearly 2 mile course. At age 60, I have learned well to listen more attentively to what my body is trying to tell me. The prospect of my coming near to performance success is largely contingent upon how I feel after an initial brief walk which is then followed by significantly stretching all of my major leg, back and arm muscles. 

My very first attempt at running usually feels and probably looks much like a sack of stones having been haphazardly tossed along the roadside. It generally does hurt, there is nothing nimble about it, and very little ground gets covered. But it usually gets better over time. The next span of my walking is followed by additional stretching which seemingly reduces my prior apprehension, clumsiness and rigidity.

Entering into the next phase of my running always feels less painful and more unconstrained. It is at this stage, that a rising sense of gratitude, joy and hopefulness emerges. Still, I have a great distance to go before I can completely let go of all attention to my physical self and merge inner spirit with wind, sky and the song of life being played out in nature on that day. Both gradually and longingly, I begin to feel my energy connect with the broadband energy of my complete surroundings.

At times, as was the case yesterday, I feel as ready and able to take flight as any winged creature, or as agile or swift as the most gifted four-legged animal. I know that this is merely an illusion in my mind, still it gives great cause to my heart to soar onward. It is then that I feel enormously blessed with the experience of immutable belief, liberation, and a keen sense of oneness which then makes it possible for me to inevitably go the distance.

The more that I repeat this meditative walk and run practice the greater my intuitive understanding that one need not walk to or run toward or escape from any particular circumstance in an effort to readily enter into this sacred place, space, and frame of knowing. For the time being, this remains the spiritual practice that best opens me up to the superbly sweet fragrance of spiritual illumination.