Today I go for a long walk and run. This is part of my new challenge 1,000,000 steps by the end of the year; so an average of over 10,000 steps every day.
Why? Well part of the reason I’m doing this, the running, the intermittent fasting, the Tai Chi, Yoga and so on is, certainly, to become more fit and to reach my ideal weight of 10 stone by Christmas. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
From late July to the first half of September I’ve been pretty good in following a routine of practice that featured long runs, cold showers and fasting. Far from perfect but overall about as good a run of practice as I’ve been able to manage at any point in my life; certainly as far as practicing on my own goes, away from ashrams, dojos and courses. For the past two weeks or so I have lost momentum and have been less diligent.
Looking back over my life I confess that I have not been a digiligent disciple of any one path or discipline but there has, equally, always been a connection to something that I could call ‘the Path’ or ‘the Way’. Whether Yoga or Aikido, or more recently Taichi, Qigong and Wing Chun, some practice has connected me to the Path. I believe that it has helped me to stay in reasonable physical health over 67 years but this may equally be down to good fortune. I have gone for long periods doing very little of any practice but returning again and again to some practice has been essential for my sense of emotional and spiritual integrity.
For me the Path is not confined by or to any particular practices nor does it require any set of beliefs. Practices connect me to the Path but they are not the Path. Neither running nor meditation is the Path but they take me, while I am engaged in them, up and away (as it were) from the concerns that keep me bogged down in the particularities of my life. Those particularities are, as it says on the tin, particular to each of us. They include our concerns about money, work, family, relationships, conflicts, health and the whole process of living and dying from birth to death. Our personal landscape of existence.
Our practices, whatever they are, however ‘well’ or ‘badly’ we do them, enable us to be in a place where, for a while, the particularities do not exist. Where, for a while we can feel connected to a purer, less conditioned sense of being. It is common enough, a cliché I suppose, for teachers to say, as we enter a meditation space or a dojo, that we should leave our worries, with our shoes, at the entrance.
Practices are not the Path but they are of the Path depending on our relationship with them, our dedication to them, our treasuring of them and our constantly returning to it through them. It is through the sense of return , welcome and rightness that we recognise the Path.
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”