Zdravstvuyte! How are you doing on this zany Thursday? Is everyone feeling zippy?
I cant believe I haven’t posted anything since my abecedarian attempts to explain the neuroscience of meditation last Friday. Have you missed me, gentle readers? I have certainly missed you. I hope you can forgive my stochastic schedule, consider this post my personal penance.
Life has, as always, been chaotic in my marathonsam world. I know that as an academic I should not blindly accept unscientific astrology, but, good GOLLY Tuesday’s Harvest Supermoon kicked my ass, chewed me up, and spit me out like a Chuck Norris crossed with a grain thresher.
I’m so glad that I selected September to make time for meditation every day.Initially I incorporated five minutes of a body-scanning based meditation practice into my morning running warm-up. I have recently started sitting for 5-10 minutes of transcendental-style mantra meditation each afternoon. These brief breaks to quiet my mind have been an invaluable bastion against the blitzkrieg of business that my PhD program piles upon me.
I recently read a great New York Times interview with Sam Harris about mindfulness, consciousness, and the concept of self. Harris argues that the very concept of consciousness doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, and uses this to make a case FOR spirituality. He likens consciousness to a classic optical illusion: more defined by its absence than by what is actually present.
I love Sam Harris’ point about self-examination, in the style of mindfulness meditation:
“If you turn consciousness upon itself in this moment, you will discover that your mind tends to wander into thought. If you look closely at thoughts themselves, you will notice that they continually arise and pass away. If you look for the thinker of these thoughts, you will not find one. And the sense that you have — “What the hell is Harris talking about? I’m the thinker!”— is just another thought, arising in consciousness.
If you repeatedly turn consciousness upon itself in this way, you will discover that the feeling of being a self disappears.“
I was reminded about my own musings on the default mode network (that part of our brain that, for better but often for worse, is responsible for our own self image). Meditation diverts blood flow away from this region: there’s a physiological reason for the phenomenon that Harris describes.
I shouldn’t complain about having too much on my plate- I would always rather be busy than bored. I have found time for some fun these past few weeks. I fit in a fabulous fifteen mile run last weekend.
Alli and I took Porter out to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park this past Sunday for a wonderful walk in the woods.
We’re beginning to detect some signs that the seasons are changing here in Seattle.
It’s not full-on tights weather quite yet, but I’m starting to see less of the sun and more of my breath during my morning runs. Yesterday’s hill-repeat workout was particularly chilly and challenging.
In other, more exciting news: I’m racing this weekend! I’ve signed up for the Cedar River Trail Half Marathon, put on by Northwest Trail Runs. The website describes the course as “not relentless, but always changing, creating a playful trail running course.”
Apparently there are “some steep sections, but no major climbs,” which sounds perfect to this total-trail-running neophyte. I have been wanting to get into trail running for quite some time (I’ve been inspired by reading “Born to Run,” watching Sage Canaday’s Instagram feed, and seeing the awesome blogger stuftmama totally conquer a crazy race called “Stairway to Heaven“). This little event is definitely the kiddy-pool version of true trail- and ultra-running, but I’m excited to strap on my water wings and splash around in the shallow end for my first foray into the sport.
Maybe someday I’ll find my inner MUT (Mountain Ultra Trail)-running mountain, but for now I’d need a miracle and WAY more training to be able to run UP a fourteener.
Finally, before I put this post to press, I’m excited to announce that, as of next Monday, I’m officially in training for the Seattle Marathon. I wrote myself a training plan, and I’m hoping to substantially improve upon my time from Tacoma.
I’ll be blogging about my training (as well as whatever else interests me) in the coming months. I ran the Tacoma City Marathon to support the Seattle Humane Society. I still am affiliated as a charity athlete with this wonderful organization. Myself, and the animals of King County, would be eternally grateful for your support again this time around. I’m stoked to start ramping up my milage again: stay tuned to this space, there will be rain-soaked running-gear selfies aplenty.
What’s going on with y’all?
What are you excited about right now?