I have always sensed that there is a deeper connection of body, mind and spirit, separate from divinity, especially in athletics. Athletes have to be in tune with their own body, able to push themselves to far limits, while knowing where to stop to abstain from injuries. I first became aware of this inherent connection during my years of swimming. Swimming has always had a calming affect, and after an hour or so swimming laps, my mind would be clear and my problems resolved. This was strengthened even more as I practiced bikram yoga. I was able to connect with myself on a deeper, calmer level, something I would never be able to accomplish if I was not actively engaging myself in some sort of activity.
In the midst of my realizations, a Groupon (oh Groupon, how we love you) for an Effortless Mind Meditation Course at Fern Life Center came through. Taught by yogi Ajayan, I honestly went in (alone) with some hesitations. Come on, meditation? An 8 hour meditation seminar? Expecting some extreme yogis, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the yurt (oh yes, there is a yurt set up in his backyard) and realized everyone else there was also a Groupon-er and "normal." (I say this in quotes, because although no one was completely off the ranch, there were definitely some fun and interesting characters there. But I think thats just Seattle).
Shoes off, in comfy sweats, incense burning, fireplace roaring (it was a pretty sweet yurt), everyone cozied up on the blankets and pillows on the ground. Ajayan took us through the basic steps of meditation, the goals and different ways to practice meditation. I have never even tried meditation before, so the basic foundation was perfect for what I was looking for. We practiced meditating once before lunch and twice after. On the second meditation, I stopped trying to meditate (counter-intuitive to me) and I actually started to get it. Of course, once I realized I was doing it correctly and had stopped trying, it backfired and brought me back out. But at least I know what it feels like now.
During the practice of meditation, you aim to reach pure awareness. Ajayan describes pure awareness as, "transcending the gross layers of thought that comprise ordinary mind, and experiencing the molecular and atomic nature of consciousness that lies hidden within. The rigid boundaries of the gross mind can melt into pure energy and then finally into pure, unbounded consciousness, into the Truth of our own Being, which is universal and infinite..."
In training for endurance events, you end up spending a lot of time with yourself. Especially on the bike and swim, you don't have music to help distract you, you end up spending a lot of time in your own head. My goal was to take advantage and help myself in my connection to myself and the world around me.
Today marks 5 months exactly from Lake Stevens 70.3 (but who is counting?) and as I am building the foundation for my event physically, I am now starting to build the foundation mentally as well.
Let me know if you have any specific questions, and I am sure I will have a story or two to share about the seminar. You know I love telling stories :)