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Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Months ago, my friend Hannah made a comment along these lines: we were talking about the meditative qualities of running, and the fact that we both (mostly) like to do it alone. It got me thinking about the ways running is and is not like traditional meditation. I haven’t tried Headspace or any of the other meditation apps floating around the internet, but I can see how running bears some similarities to them.

When I run, I listen to music, but it’s usually stuff I know really well, or music that can fade comfortably into the background. Unless I’m actively singing along to Hamilton or other music, I want space for my thoughts to tumble and churn and slide as I go along. I don’t often go out on a run with the intent of solving a particular problem, but I naturally think about whatever’s taking up my attention that week, as well as the weather and the light and the signs of seasonal change (right now, all the gorgeous leaves) that I see.

Running is movement-based, of course, while many forms of meditation involve sitting still. I find it easier to let my attention relax when I’m moving through a landscape, easier to let my thoughts pinwheel around without having to move in a linear fashion. Sometimes I’ll get stuck on one thing for a bit, but more often the physical motion helps keep my thoughts in motion, too. A lot of yoga teachers talk about noticing your thoughts rather than getting attached to them – sometimes tough to do when lying on a yoga mat, but I find it a bit easier on a run.

Especially when I’m working – when my days involve emails, meetings, writing projects, chats with coworkers – I also relish the chance to step back from all that on a run. As I move through physical space, sometimes my thoughts come unstuck and drift away, creating space inside my head for new thoughts or simply a bit of breathing room. It’s physically challenging and mentally restorative. Not quite the same effect as a yoga class – and I need both – but a way to create and enjoy headspace, all the same.

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What I know

red journal chai darwins

I’m not much on New Year’s resolutions, these days, though I do love choosing a word for the year. But I recently read Lindsey’s lovely, thought-provoking take on starting the New Year: musing on what she knows. (She wrote a similar post back in November about starting with what we know.)

As we go deeper into January, I thought I’d share a few things I know (but often need to remember):

I know that I need eight hours of sleep. It’s so hard to close the book/turn off the computer/put down my phone and go to bed, but so necessary.

I know that I feel more clearheaded if I start the day with a little writing: a journal entry, a blog post, a work-related project when I get to the office. I also know that I feel much more centered if I scribble in my journal nearly every day.

I know that too much time online makes me feel scattered and vaguely uneasy. But I also know that deep connections exist online, and I am grateful for them.

I know that planning ahead for the week – even in broad outlines – often saves me from feeling crazed later in the week.

I know that I need to move my body on purpose: taking lunchtime walks, doing yoga when I can, getting up from my desk a few times a day. I also know that I need to get outside, every single day, even when it’s frigid.

I know that I need to drink a lot of water, especially during these dry, cold winter days.

daffodils book desk

I know that fresh flowers make me unbelievably happy. They feel like a small extravagance, but are so worth the money. (The weekly chats with my florist are also nice.)

I know that I’m a happier person if I spend some time immersed in a book every day.

I know that the copious cups of tea I drink serve several functions: warmth, caffeine, pleasant taste, beloved ritual. I also know that chai lattes are both a frequent treat and a lifesaver. (It is the small things that save my life over and over.)

I know that so many of these practices – taking walks, reading, writing, buying flowers, making tea – help me to pay attention to my life, which is so vitally important.

 

What do you know? How is 2016 treating you so far?

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Hello, everyone. How were your holidays?

Mine were very strange.

That is to say, they involved a couple of long plane flights, a lot of driving around the Metroplex, a totally different set of Christmas traditions from my family’s, a snowstorm that had us worried and half hoping we’d be delayed (but we weren’t), and a very quiet New Year’s. And for the first time ever, they did not involve my parents and my sister. We flew to Texas, but spent Christmas with my in-laws, and then drove to Abilene for a couple of days. And while being with family and friends was a much-needed breath of fresh air, and I knew all along we weren’t going to make it to Midland, I couldn’t help wishing we were there.

I so missed being with my parents, drinking eggnog with my dad around the fire on Christmas Eve, going to the candlelight service at FBC, hearing my mom read Luke 2 from her old Bible, digging into presents and stockings, helping my mom cook all the holiday dishes. Sitting in Jon’s living room, eating Christmas cookies and talking, and spending time with my sister and brother-in-law. We didn’t get any of that. And while I know this is part of being grown-up, and living far away and having both limited time and money, it still hurt. We had fun with my in-laws and loved our time in Abilene – but it all felt very bittersweet.

Dani wrote a beautiful post about this very thing, about realizing she had missed the true point of Christmas in the midst of homesickness. And I guess I missed it too – that the real point of Christmas isn’t being with your loved ones, as vital as that is for me. It’s about the love of a God who cared enough about us to separate himself from his greatest loved One – who came down into a dirty stable with no fanfare, or even a midwife, and then had to flee to Egypt before he was really old enough to understand who he was.

Jesus spent much of his life on the move, with “no place to lay His head” and friends who adored or deserted him, depending on their moods. And yet he stuck all that out for us, for the sake of making us part of God’s family. And that makes me realize that, in the grand scheme of things, missing my family is so not even the point.

I do still wish we’d gotten to see them. And I will try with everything in me to make it to Midland next Christmas. But I hope I’ll carry with me the realization that being with my loves is just the icing on the cake. The real deal, as Linus reminds us every year, is that “unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

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