Last weekend I was on a quiet retreat in Northumberland. After spending a while participating in a discussion I went for a run before night prayers. It was one of those moments when everything flowed and came together. Everything outside was totally and absolutely silent and still. It seemed like all my senses were heightened. I could smell the freshly cut hedges. The only thing I could hear was my own footsteps. I could feel my breath as it filled my lungs and it seemed that I was tasting the air even within my lungs. It seemed more nourishing than normal. As I ran i quickly became able to relax deeper and deeper into a state of joy. I even raised up my arms for a moment out of happiness. Then I just relaxed more, finding balance with my posture line and enjoyed the journey.
I was pleased that I stayed pretty much mentally focused and present in my own body for the entirety of the run. Just 1 mile. I'd say it felt like a 2 out of 10 for effort. When I checked my watch it was a 6 minute 41 second mile. I can tell you for sure that a mile that fast does not normally feel like a 2 out of 10! Furthermore I just don't get into a flow state like that very often, especially not straight away at the start of a run. Wouldn't it be great if you could just put yourself 'in the zone?' Chi Running is about creating the conditions for energy to flow. It does have some techniques to use your mind to help you find 'the zone.' Importantly finding balance and relaxation in your body are at the very centre of what we do as Chi Runners.
So what happened this time to allow me to find flow, find a deeper and more connected moment in my life? Well I'd spent the evening listening to someone very inspiring who had really helped me understand the purpose of my life for the next few years. I came to my run peaceful in myself, relaxed, and with a deep sense of knowing my purpose.
So for me that night my run really was just a physical expression or extension of what was going on in my mind. My run was a mediation, a prayer. Speed was allowed to happen, as we say in Chi Running.
Something else interesting. I wrote this blog on the London tube, and became totally unaware of about 5 consecutive stops on the journey. So even recalling and describing the moment and my lovely run seemed to bring me back partially into that state of flow. Maybe finding flow is not as elusive as it first appears. Maybe it's nearer than we think.