I am not a fast runner. I am not a dedicated runner. I’ve never even done a real race. But I have still found this: that Running is an ecstasy pill.
Or at least some mystery pill that will catalyze whatever I need to transmute and process so that I can clear any negative energy running around in my head or body. You don’t necessarily have to run these ultra long distances to achieve benefits of the famed “runner’s high.” Sometimes I head out with a set intention to work through whatever is bringing me down. Other times it just happens naturally without me having to even think about it. But the difference is undeniable by the end of my run and often times I can even notice this shift as it happens. And that makes the process all that much more reliable and trustworthy for me. It tells me that I’m not just bullshitting myself into some kind of false idea. It tells me that the chemicals triggered in my brain from running actually help me think more clearly and freely. It relaxes me into a state of gratefulness and feels like pure magic.
It is comparable to some of the early drug experiences I had that helped me free up blocked energy. I think at those times in my life I couldn’t consciously work through my shadowy emotions (whether that be a dark secret of guilt or feeling low self-esteem from an authority figure publicly shaming me) because my attention was too split between holding a public image of myself, becoming aware of my own inner story, becoming aware of the effect of my actions on others, and needing to meet expectations of my job and school, feeling pressure to think about my future, not knowing what to make of my past… a lot of heavy stuff to place your attention on at one time. You can’t be present with any one of those things when your ego gets locked up with a fear/anxiety as your motivation.
Drugs can offer a very abrupt interruption to your ego’s grip over those needs. And so can other things. A lot of people end up using the drugs to escape the negative feelings, but I think they can be used to help you be present to those feelings. Ego keeps you from really having a pure understanding of what you want, how you affect others, and to what degree you are letting outside experiences affect you. I’m not endorsing the use of drugs here, but only acknowledging testimonies of many people including myself who have experienced sorts of “ego death” due to use of medicines and substances. That is a controversial topic that I should go more in depth with in another post- but not here. I am not the only one who can relate these worlds though.
I mention the ego death experience with drugs because it took awhile for me to clear a similar “ego death pathway” with running. You can absolutely learn to curb your ego through other practices like meditation and running, and a bajillion other means. But despite hating running most of my life, it has become a very trusted friend for this reason and more.
I use to associate “ego death” with really harsh cathartic tough love, but now I don’t really have to push myself into unbearable discomfort to feel like I could break through the limits of my perceptions. Sure those big mountain-top/depths-of-hell experiences are still going to have a place in my life, but the short runs aren’t diminished in their importance or value simply because I’m not going to have as intense of a climax and epiphany. I just notice that the running (especially when I keep my body clear of foods and lifestyle patterns that clog it up and weight it down or don’t give it the nourishment it needs) allows something to shift in my psyche and emotions. Effortlessly. The things that might have been running wild in my mind seem to just play themselves out and I no longer feel threatened or intimidated by them. Energy is restored where I felt hopeless, empowerment is fostered where I felt weak, and my heart is reconnected to desire.
What was nervous becomes calmed.
What better solution than using the tools that come built into our human machine to solve the kinks that occur? Often times the outside chemicals we take to change our state and perspective are actually already being produced by our body, and we can do things to free up whatever is inhibiting those chemicals’ production or amplify their presence and effects. I’m not trying to promote a blitzed out experience of life though that can be fun at times, to just be wild in the high and high in the wild. I am trying to promote a more sane and simple way to consciousness and peace. There is a time for everything though…
Let running be your meditation in that you can simply allow yourself to be with whatever is with you.
Your human organism is designed for freedom and can rewire itself with this practice.