Daily Archives: April 8, 2012

Day of Rest: Building my Base

Eric and I (and the dogs, of course the dogs) went hiking and running this morning. He remarked again how much better shape I am in, that we were doing something I wasn’t always able to.

He’s completely right. I have gone through various periods of fitness and then weakness in the nineteen years we’ve been together, circled around and around wellness, momentarily maintaining it but never able to persist, coming together and falling apart. But something about this time is different. I’ve had a breakthrough, a realization, what my friend calls a “come to Jesus moment”–you cannot get healthy with diet and exercise if you hate, loathe, abuse yourself. The only way to health and well-being is through self-love.

I want to make sure you get that, because it’s so important: the only way to health and well-being is through self-love.

It is through this devotion to yourself, self-care, a sense of yourself as precious, worthy, and enough that you become well, regain sanity, connect to your innate wisdom and compassion. It’s from this base of health and well-being that you also find the strength, the courage and stamina, the fearlessness, wisdom and compassion to help others, to serve them. It’s like Evita Ramparte said in the documentary Hungry for Change:

Something miraculous happens when you take care of yourself. You realize that you are precious…You become in love with yourself basically, and it shines, it overflows to others, becomes contagious. You give others the permission to be in love with themselves, with life.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has a new book coming out, Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind. Chapter Two of the book is called “Building Your Base” and in it, he says that when you start running, you need to build your base. You can’t run a marathon on your first day. You start off slowly, but continually challenge your body so that it builds the structures you will need, the endurance and the strength necessary, to be a stable and smart runner. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche explains it this way:

The base, as it turned out, was simply doing enough running, without overdoing it, to build the integrity of the bones and the strength of the tendons and muscles. This would slowly power up my basic physiology so it could handle the running. It was very similar to the first stages of meditation, in which we focus on building strength.

I have applied this wisdom directly to my running. Every time I walk the dogs, I run as much as I can, not pushing myself too far, but certainly touching my edge. I know that the more I run, the stronger my foundation becomes, and the easier running becomes.

I also am realizing how this wisdom applies to just about anything you are attempting to accomplish or change. In his book, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche relates it directly to the practice of meditation, saying:

This process of taking the inherent structure of the body and strengthening it through regular and repeated runs is very similar to training and developing the mind in meditation…The Tibetan word for meditation is gom. It essentially means “getting used to, familiarizing.” Meditation, then, is the act of familiarizing your mind with what you want it to do. That process of familiarity is just taking qualities and abilities that the mind naturally has, focusing on them in a methodical way, and thus building your base.

Learning self-love and self-care, moving towards health and well-being, undergoing this year of retreat, this life-rehab is building my base.

I am starting to be able to see what’s on the horizon, catch glimpses of what is possible, and it’s beautiful. It makes me weep sometimes, it is so amazing.

But so is the process, the path leading me there. And I have such good company.

What base are you building, dear reader? On this day of rest, may you have time to day dream about what’s on the horizon, and may it be beautiful.

E is for Easter

When I think of Easter, my first thought is the flowers, tulips and daffodils especially. I was telling you the other day about the flower beds by the south entrance to the CSU campus, by the parking garage, a tiny universe of blooms in miniature.

I am amazed by them, because they are small, so tiny, but their effort and their impact is so bighearted. They remind me that you don’t have to be big, loud, or important to touch someone, to be noticed and adored, to make a difference in someone else’s life. Small is beautiful, too.

The tiny but kind gesture, the gentle act, the soft gaze, the loving whisper, your silence and stillness, fierce but tender compassion–these are considerable.

And Easter isn’t about the candy, or the fancy dress, or even going to church or having a big family dinner (or maybe I’m just saying that because I won’t have any of those things today), it’s about something much bigger–or actually, maybe Easter is about something much smaller and more precious, something we are usually too busy or distracted to notice.

Easter is about new beginnings, a fresh start, the chance to begin again, and the call to service and to love. Easter asks us to slow down, be quiet and still, be humble and small, but to also open our hearts, be brave, and love with all our effort and gentleness.

We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa

Kind and gentle reader, I wish you an Easter day filled with small things and great love. Remember that you are precious, and gentleness is your superpower.