To be honest, I thought meditation was all fluff. I had this preconception that it was all flowery ju-ju about pretending to be a flower, opening your petals and letting in bees to help pollinate the eco-system.
Bleh. You couldn't force me to touch that stuff with a ten-foot pole. I didn’t believe in it. That is, until I saw a video of Andy Puddicombe speaking about how meditation wasn’t about sitting in lotus position, but rather about being present and aware of your surroundings without having to rely on your imagination. I downloaded the Headspace app and after ten minutes I was hooked. For me, Headspace became yoga for the mind. It immediately started to strip away layers and layers of preconception which eventually turned into misconception because I began to believe that this stuff truly worked. I've always felt as if meditation was about searching, traveling, journeying toward something—always moving toward a state of being calm or good—when it is really about being present with yourself and your environment.
If I'm starting to sound a little ju-ju myself, let me try putting that in a more relatable way. So Headspace has what it calls Singles, which are one-off meditations that are meant to help you concentrate on certain activities or environments. And in it, I found a Single that was devoted to running and it even had a guided running meditation exercise that I could use while hitting the pavement on my long-runs over the weekend. It's kept me company when I started to feel the physical pain at Mile 15 or 16—and it's what's kept me going when all I wanted to do was give the F up! I've been running marathons for the past three years and I realized, after listening to my first Single meditation on running, that I was doing this all wrong. Instead of concentrating on the end goal—26.2 miles or even 5 miles—I needed to concentrate on my current mile and listen to my feet hitting the pavement in rhythm, giving high-fives to strangers cheering me on during a race, and feeling the wind cool me down as my body temperature starts to spike. Headspace helps me to be aware, always aware. (When running in Los Angeles, you have to be vigilant otherwise you'll get hit by a car or chased down the street by a yapping chihuahua.) Now, when I run a marathon, I don't worry about the finish line because I know that it will always be there.