January 2019. The event was of Mumbai Marathon. Full of enthusiastic participants, who come from all over India and abroad. A lovely international event, which is one of the best in the world. Early morning of Marathon day. We all gathered at around 5 am, at BKC, Mumbai. In the pool of runners, we often go in a group, but eventually separate apart and get mixed in the crowd. I was one of them. Running this event and had lot of enthusiasm and was looking ahead to the Flag off. Music was in the air.. the sun was yet to rise.. it was dusky and dark. Big lights were making the place look bright and the face of every runner was glowing with eager, energy and curiosity. Everybody was going to run with her/him self and it was going to be fun..!
I was also well prepared for this event and while getting ready with my head band, tightening of shoes and checking the headphones, I saw a young lady next to me. She said Hi, and I reciprocated. We started talking and she told me that she has just completed Delhi Marathon and was here in Mumbai yesterday for this run. She looked very well prepared and was kind-of cool. I shared my experiences of earlier runs of mine and said that mostly, I get breathless in first 4-5 kms and later, I do it well, after that phase gets over. She said, exactly the same. But her next sentence was interesting. She said “I feel spiritual after 5 kms. I run as if I am doing meditation, and then I can run any distance even without realizing”!! I was stunned. How can one compare meditation with a Marathon Run?
The flag off took place and in chirpy music, enthusiastic and cheerful atmosphere, we all started our run journey.. It goes through Flora Fountain, Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Haji Ali, Mahim Church, and the Bandra–Worli Sea Link. Wonderful route, awesome Mumbai crowd and music-drums all over. I started my journey.. 21 Kms I had to cover and we all were together .. yet alone… an interesting combination.. just like life.. The sentence of this lady again came in my mind. How can meditation be compared with run?
What is meditation? Wikipedia says “Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state”. Well, in a run, as the event starts, your mind is full of thoughts of making a good run. The thoughts are wandering. As the body gears up for the long run, it initially resists and the lungs demand more oxygen. As few kms are done, the thoughts come and go.. the music and drums around seem to fade and legs start to slightly slow down and breathlessness is felt. This is exactly the time when a technique of focusing of mind comes in. Now, mindfulness starts working and the random thoughts, which come-and-go, disappear. The mid gets trained for the job we have come for… to run.. and enjoy the run. Mentally, as this gets clear, the pain in the legs cease (or legs become numb), lungs start working with optimum capacity and operate in a rhythm and you seem to be in a quiet environment..amidst the commotion of the photographers, spectators and fellow runners. This is of course Meditation state…!! You come to a stable state, in which, you can run for ever..!! Vow..!! What a thought..
While I was thinking of all this, cool breeze passed over me.. on the lovely Sea Link… and the sunrise lit up the entire ambiance, and it also illuminated my thought process… Marathon Runs are similar to Meditation…!!!
This would be true for any activity we do, I am sure, which is done with passion and ambition.. Where mind and soul are together… no need to learn meditation… differently..