The Running Meditation


The Running Meditation


Your Upstairs and Downstairs Self

About forty years ago I was asked to lead a group in personal exploration. I was given no information about what the activity should deal with, so I decided to make it an exploration of one’s neglected abilities.

Having witnessed the explosion of new abilities in several people I felt I has something to offer.

The group when they arrived were all strangers to me and there were about eight of them, evenly mixed group of women and men. In particular two of them remain in my memory – a female nurse and a businessman.

It was a long time ago but I believe I started the group moving to music, not the frantic dance movements we see enacted in films, I asked them to try to express in their body whatever the slow music led them to feel.

They enjoyed that and it loosened them up a little. Sometimes I get crazy new ideas, and on that day, I had an idea to try something new. The first part I had tried before with completely different results. In Japan I was teaching a very large group and wanted them to try using their voices by making animal or odd noises. I had the impression that the Japanese were a rather controlled people, but this group went wild and in the end after several minutes I had to shout to stop them. Arriving back in the UK I tried the same exercise with another large group. I was mortified when the whole group stopped within a few seconds and I had to shout to keep them going, without much success. I felt that the British were much more reserved in exposing themselves than the Japanese.

So, the new idea was to get the group to jog or run in a circle. It was a large hall and so they ran easily and when I asked them to make any crazy noises, they did it easily. I am not sure if running in a circle reminded them of schooldays or if running makes it difficult to stay in the upstairs everyday reasoning state of mind. Maybe a bit of both because the next step was the ‘master class’ of the method.

I asked them to stop running and see if there were any problems they needed answers to. The two people I remembered easily was the businessman and the young nurse. The businessman said he was facing a difficult question regrading his busines; the nurse said that she was almost ready to leave nursing. She said that she faced death nearly every day; babies died, children, teenagers, mature individuals, and the elderly – everywhere she felt overwhelmed by the emotions of experiencing it all.

Everyone had such a question, so set them running again making noises. Then when they were in full flow, I shouted for them to now asked the question they sought an answer to. I said for them to allow any words, thoughts or feeling to arise as the answer.

I left them running and said when they had arrived at whatever they experienced they could sit and relax. When they had all finished, they sat in a circle and told their experience. I was actually astonished that every one of them had received an answer.

The nurses experience was one I recalled easily. She said that her difficulty about death was resolved and she was ready to continue with enthusiasm. I cannot remember her exact words, but it was about the essence of being a nurse. For nursing was not simply handing out medicines or dealing with wounds, nursing was to be a companion during the journey of life from birth to death. As a nurse we walk with the mystery of Life all the time, through the dark moments and light, and our companionship in that long walk give enormous amounts to the others making that journey. That young nurse was ready to continue walking with others making the journey.

It reminded me of when I was nursing on a geriatric ward. A bedridden patient, a lovely old man who had no relatives to visit him, called me and asked to sit and hold his hand. I sat for some time with his hand in mine, but the sister in charge of that ward was like a sergeant major and insisted we kept moving. I explained that to the patient and left him. That night he died.

What or How?

Running or making silly noises has the effect of making it difficult to carry on thinking in and orderly way. This opens up the possibility for another aspect of level of your mind to express. This is often called intuition but giving it such a name may limit our understanding if it.

The limitation occurs because we are still locked in our thinking that sees only one thing at a time and I always judging or trying to fix a meaning on what it experiences. Our thinking mind in a way often acts like a judge, jury, and executioner for what we perceive. This other aspect of our mind opens when that side of us is quietened. It is similar to walking out of a small dimly lit room onto an immense sunlight meadow. You can see animals trees the sky, the earth, people, and rivers all at once.

Ire reminds me of a scene I was trying to sum up. I was standing on a beach, but when I tried to define or sum up what a beach was, at first it seemed subtle and unreachable as ever. Then I imagined being the beach to define what I was – a meeting place for water, earth, air and sun – earth, air, fire and water. But the beach is not any one of them. It changes with the seasons and with the action of storms, of erosion and temperature. It isn’t the air, or the sea or the earth. It changes yet stays the same – the beach. Suddenly I felt this in myself, saying, “I am not anything. I change yet am unchanged. I am all things but nothing.” This gave me a very powerful sense of my own eternal spirit underlying all the changes of my body and personality.

Therefore, I cannot say I am this body or this mind; I cannot even claim to be this person. None of them separately is what I am. So, I am the indefinable amalgam of them all. In just that way I am the indefinable everything that underlies the particulars of my life. To be aware of that is amazing experience.

A man experiencing this said, “I recognise myself as existing without body, without family ties. I am still living the life of a man in this century. Without love I am nothing. Love is the key, and most people’s life is like a prison. But here I have access to everyone’s life. I can enter into your being D, or into that of your children. You are all wonderful. Your struggle is unique, and I love you and take you into my being. I exist out of each of you. I do not have an existence outside of you. I came into being out of countless lives that were lost, giving. I am the fire of life in its many forms. I do not organise life. I am totally out of control. I have no security, only an awareness of each moment, life living and dying each moment, constantly, forever.”

How can I enter this state of being; well the frustrating thing about being able to experience this state is that the harder one tries to grasp it, the further away from it one gets. The more effort one makes in trying to achieve it, the less one finds of it.

It is the ever present, self-existent core of yourself that remains when all else drops away.

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