In a place where the earth moves slow and meticulously, the heaviness of my breath and the quick pace of my feet seem all too intrusive. As much as I try to steady my breathing and move with grace, I find that my feet get caught up in the rocks and stumps that thrust out from the soil. I fix my pace and tell myself to breathe, to listen. I know from my yoga practice how much more I gain when I learn to quiet my mind and breathe.
For all too long running has been anything but a spiritual practice. I’ve used it simply as a tool to improve the structure of my body. It has almost always been a way for me to compete with my former self, who I was the day before. How many calories can I burn today? How many more miles can I go? And through these thoughts, I learned to love the act of running. I’ve always enjoyed that inner competition.
But not today. Today there was no need for keeping track of time, miles, or calories. Today I found myself in the presence of Grandma Cedar. She is the oldest and wisest soul on this island. I stopped upon sight of her and stood in amazement. As I sat at her roots, she said to me “Granddaughter, let your breath be still. Listen. What do you hear?” I closed my eyes and touched her bark. All of a sudden my ears began to flood with sounds. Not the sounds that I’m used to though. There were no traces of highways or cyclists. There was only the forest. As I listened closer, I could hear Grandma Cedar growing just as she has for the past 1000 years.
As I closed my eyes tighter, I could here her gently whispering to me, “Here, you are perfect. This moment and all of the moments after are perfect. Steady your breath and clear your mind. You have much to learn, my granddaughter.”