If we really want to get rid of suffering, completely and totally, then clinging has to go. The spiritual path is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go. The more we let go, the more there is empty and open space for us to see reality. Because what we let go of is no longer there, there is the possibility of just moving without clinging to the results of the movement. As long as we cling to the results of what we do, as long as we cling to the results of what we think, we are bound, we are hemmed in. Meditating on No-Self: A Dhamma Talk (Edited for Bodhi Leaves), by Sister Khema(1994)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unwholesome yet productive some how

Tuesday was the rest day again this week.  Ran yesterday, jut out the door and going, 12k, very easy but the mind of a monkey.  Today, ran 12k again, but other issues creating the land of unwholesomeness.

Yesterday was a very easy run, intentionally.  My intention was to focus on the breath and just run, but I ended up just running and looking around and smiling a lot, not in the least bit mindful of my breath but at the same time not having unwholesome issues to deal with and in fact thinking of wholesome things.

Today was a disaster.  Started a work and went from there.  The first three days of work have been pretty good but today I was unable to muster the appropriate compassion and kindness and it got the best of me, thus I was annoyed when i got hom to run.  Making matters even more fun was about 2:48 (minutes that is) in to the run a group of three women basically looked at me and step right in front of me and one of them stuck their foot out and I tried to jump over it and I ended up taking a fall.

To say that I was off my game from there is an understatement, thus began a terrible slide involving all the unwholesomeness of the entire day.  Just a lot of anger that I tried to get out of but it just kept coming back, over and over and over.

On the other hand it is the fastest I've run in about three weeks.  But, that is just no good because that wasn't the point, the pint is to continue to try to make steps in both running and living.

I guess I'll just have to take 1 out of 2 today.  Disappointing though.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Okay, not opium

12k today, a light rain for part of it.  Rain is of course impermanent and thus the enjoyment of it is in general going to go away, and for some people the irritant of it afterward is suffering.  For me, its good stuff.  Still 5k+ into a strong headwind and then about the same with the wind at my back made for an interesting type of run.  Basic into the wind, felt like I was an Olympian with the wind at my back.

Two things for certain.  Some of the running is very smooth and easy, some of it, especially when I pick up the pace feels like I am as graceful as an elephant.  With mindfulness it seems to be fairly nice.  If I lose it and move off into the streets of random thought I can tell that the running itself is not as fluid as it should be.

If I think back on all the year where I ran at a very quick pace in every workout, even 20+ miles were done at around 7:30 a mile, I think I can remember that there was a lot of involuntarily following the breath because I was working so hard.  Just thinking of the 5k I ran in Monticello in June I was focused on the breath because I was having to work so hard.  That is interesting to think about.

I didn't to the 5 bases today.  I tried to just follow the breath all the way around.  I would say I was mindful and concentrated for much of the run.  I used right/skillful effort to follow the breath and return to the breath when I got off track.  The one added element today was if the thought was unwholesome I went for a wholesome thought before I went for returning to the breath.

All this really shows is that its not opium for the mind.  But it requires daily practice and effort.

P.S.  Work went okay.  Mindful.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Is it all just opium for the mind?  Went 12k today, a good mindful run, very mindful, close to 99% mindful.  How you ask?  Following something called the "five bases of the breath".  I took this from Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo (Phra Suddhidhammaransi Gambhiramedhacariya) and his work on Sammadhi, which is also concentration.

It kind of goes like this, these five bases are the tip of the nose, the middle of the forehead, the very top center of the skull the middle of the brain and the middle of the chest near the sternum.  A series of trips back and for forth starting at the nose and going to the forehead, and back to the nose for a specific number of times, then from the forehead to the top of the head, and on and on.

I did this the entire run, I think i broke the concentration twice the whole run.  That is quite nice to me.  If I consider what Friday and Saturday were like, this run was really very different.  No unwholesome thoughts, thus keeping the various ugliness/fear/greed/craving, long list to follow.... where it was not arising.

The run itself was a good workout but I really feel tired after CELTA then yesterdays hard mental work and sun and then I didn't sleep well do to bad food choices last night, so really feeling lethargic but at the same time, not feeling anything, or trying to.

The interesting thing was when I worked the area from mid brain to chest/sternum, after the run I felt like my chest was on fire and that I had burned the inside of my lungs.  Still as I write this, it feels the same.  Really and interesting sign.

But, is all of this just opium for the mind?  Or is it helping? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Embracing Fear?

Finished the CELTA course Friday, back to work on Monday, hence the title.  More on that later.  Ran all week, except Tuesday of course.  Got the mileage I wanted for the week.  Thursday and Friday were 'runs' and today went out mid day with minimal turnaround today. 

It got hot and I seemed to be pretty tired today.  Also I had world class monkey mind.  Just full of unwholesomeness and this was the second day in a row.  My run on Thursday was a good mindful piece of work but over the last two days I have really felt the unwholesomeness of my thoughts.

Luckily I have seen these and returned back to mindfulness, but I am noticing that in both of these days it felt like I was in that state of unwholesomeness for some period of time.  I probably wasn't but that is what it felt like. 

After the run sat down and worked it through and its just the second noble truth.  The cause of suffering is craving.  In this case its craving to avoid fear and the fear is the hard work that I wish I could control, but know that I won't control there is greed which is related to my compensation and of course that is all just suffering.  This is hard business.

I'll spend the day trying to embrace that fear and work with it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Ran Monday, didn't get to run yesterday because of the CELTA assessment, so that was my rest day.  Ran today as well.  Monday's run was very mindful.  Tonight's was not so much, but interesting in a different way.

The sun is setting quicker these days so about 3/4 of this run was in the dark.  That means getting used to worrying about the footing.  Of course worrying.  That was the interesting part about this.  I managed to work my way through the fact that in fact I have no control over the footing whatsoever.  It is what it is and as result there is no need to attach, aver, delude or crave (good footing).  It is what it is.  Nice to renounce an opinion on something else in this phase of my training.

After working through that part I relaxed well and just ran.  At the same time I wasn't very good at keeping my mind on breathing.  I switched over to working with skillful or right view and working through the four noble truths which was a very useful approach and the run finished itself off nicely.  The pace wasn't quick but the leg turnover was nice for the last half.

Can't really check things off, because that would be grasping, but it certainly would be a bit of renouncing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Unwholesome, Impatient, Learning

Ran Thursday, Friday and Saturday the usual mileage.  Just trying to run.  The pace of the runs has improved and some of that could be related to just running and not getting ahead of myself on each run or the day after.  Also, staying mindful following the breath on those three days was fairly good.  Some unwholesome thinking on each of the runs but noticing that and returning to the breath was very 'efficient' for lack of a better word.  All in all those three days were quite good.

But, nothing is permanent and all is impermanent.  Today I went 12k as planned.  Followed the breath nicely for about 12 minutes.  My mind just exploded for almost the entirety of the rest of the run. Of course you have no control of the mind and all things come up but on some days I have a much better ability to return to the breath and to wholesome thoughts.  Today was not one of those days, I had all kinds of epically bad thoughts, constantly.  These things would last for however long, I would see them, I would return and it wouldn't be one minute before my mind was back to just ridiculous thoughts.  Some involved fear, some involved anger, some involved ego, they just went on and on. 

I was really nasty in my head, lots of  ego and anger in the way.  I've been done for about 2 hours now and have had time to meditate on it some more and I seem to have worked through various things.  One thing I can say is all those thoughts made me want to even practice more.  They just didn't feel good and half of them weren't even real, just made them up.  Learning again that the mind does what it wants and you don't own or control it, but you can just work on the breath and go through the truths.  One of those truths is that craving, ego, hate, anger, delusion cause suffering within, that is true.

I feel better now.  It turns out the run was more than just a run.  Every second is new.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In the middle of the week

Its Thursday.  Rest day yesterday.  In the third week of teaching this CELTA.  I'm please with the change in diet and mindfulness.  I haven't eaten meat in three weeks now.  Plenty of fruit and veg and my new favorit, the chick pea :)  All in all feeling quite good with that.

Nice run on Tuesday and nice run today.  Both runs were accentuated by some mindfulness that started out the runs nice and smooth.  At the same time they both had monkey mind in the same place both times, right at about 32 minutes, today I actually looked at the watch, on Tuesday I just knew based on pace and where I was.  Interesting.

This is the typical 10k that I do clockwise and counter clockwise alternating days.  Nothing special other than the rain has stopped after four consecutive days and now we are left with crumbling asphalt and cement.  Too bad. 

Part of the run goes down a nice road with tall trees lining both sides.  Well, these leaves are turning already and with the wind from the rain, many of these are now on the ground, Tuesday really looked  like fall.  Today when I went through it was dark 8:30 ish, but I could fell them still there.

Mid week, mindful, ...understanding, thinking, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rain, good rain

It rained hard and long in Kyiv today.  At the time of writing it is done, but it is supposed to on and off for the next three days.  As you've read, we could use it.  So we got it, but like all things it has its unsatisfactory side.  In this instance it is roads breaking apart, sidewalks breaking apart, car accident, the usual things that happen when change is about.

Got in a nice 10k again.  Not as quick, but just as smooth as yesterday.  I kept stepping off the gas because I kept feeling random twinges in my back.  Still I seem to have come through unscathed, though who knows about tomorrow.

Mindfulness was appropriate, though today was of course not like yesterday, as strange thoughts came flying in, I found myself thinking about a trial I did 8 years ago at one point during the run.  Strange.  I think it came in there because I was thinking about the lack of tort law in Ukraine which was the result of seeing two cars attached to each other in a nice kiss involving about 5,000 UAH worth of personal property damage.

Anyway, as you can see, not nearly as mindful as yesterday, but still working with it.  This is five days in a row.  Slowly but surely.

I hope it rains tomorrow, a good rain run, you can't beat it with a stick, but if it doesn't, I've got no control over it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pondering comparisons

Another Sunday.  I ran 18 seconds slower today than yesterday for the same distance.  The come back 10km distance.  Another week and then a slow progression toward something.  I've just about decided between a 50 miler in Cardiff Wales or running Conemarra again, but that can wait. 

The differences between the two runs was staggering.  You'll recall that monkey mind ruled the day yesterday and at one point I just felt exhausted.  Even taking in to account that each day is different and who knows what guy will be running in the shoes I put on in any given day; today's run was quite a phenomena.

Mindfulness came from the beginning as I started following the breath from the elevator and was well on my way by the time I pressed the button on the watch. 

The run was just a run, but the following of the breath and mindfulness of working with wholesome and unwholesome, see unwholesome arise and immediatley workign with it, and it going away and following the breath some more, it was over before it started.  I felt refreshed, not tired and relaxed as well.

Now, not all days are like this, but in comparison to monkey mind Saturday, it is once again an indicator of what happens when you have mindfulness and right concentration.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

6 out 7

I have to say that I am pleasantly satisfied with this week.  After three very frustrating weeks of waiting for the back to come around, being scared to run even though thinking I might could, trying three step jogs around the office, ran 6 out of 7 days this week.

Of course I must take it easy, very easy in fact.  7.3km, 8, 8.5, rest, 10, 10, 10 for the week.  Not much of a mileage but certainly a good start back.  Nice and easy.

Of course something always comes up and today was no exception, after having what can only be described as two days of monkey mind about 3km from the finish today I snapped out of monkey mind to discover that I was really tired.  almost instantly mindfulness informed me that jumping around with all these negative thoughts while running basically made me tired, making me tired makes me think that the next run will be the same, thinking the next run will be same makes me have to work hard to get out the door the next time (my own version of dependent arising).

The thing is it was almost instant, from 'I'm tired' to an instant recognition of why?  Mindfulness, interesting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Name one impermanent thing...

Kyiv streets!!!!  Ran 10k today and thought I might trip and fall several times.  We are in the middle of a heat wave with no water on the ground or anywhere, dust and sand are accumulating at a remarkable rate.  Add to this the fact that the infrastructure is well past its prime and now we are in the opposite of winter.  They aren't moon craters like winter, but they are kind  of like running on washboard dirt roads in some places. 

Today's run had good mindfulness for most of it.  Still I find myself regularly going to monkey mind, but at least I see it and take it back.  The last 3km felt very difficult to me, yet, that feeling always ends, like all feelings.  Impermanent, duh.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A new route with a new person

Went 8.5km today.  Nice and easy at about 8 pm at nite.  It was pretty hot in Kyiv today.  Luckily for me I spent the majority of the day inside doing CELTA training.  The walk from Lukyanivska Metro to the flat though was fairly sticky though.

A lot of good breath meditation tonight that flowed into no self mediation.  I ran a route I have never run tonight.  Since I am working toward this as slow as my patience will allow I decided to go back out on the streets and get away from the Death Match stadium (Start Stadium).  I google mapped a route that basically started and ended near the flat that totaled 8.5. 

This all carried over from yesterdays run and how nothing stays the same from day to day.  So extrapolating, probably wrongly, but maybe one day someone will educate me, if there is no self in that context, really the person running the route today would be different every step of the way and therefore may not have any idea where or what we running.

This gets me to thinking, if an arahant were to start running, couldn't he just keep running?  If there is no self, the only thing that stops him/her is the body shutting down and since he/she would only notice that as a pleasant, neutral or unpleasant feeling.

Too much I think, but I wonder if it is a correct application of no self?

Now for a little craving, I wish I was an arahant, I'd do a Forest Gump.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Oh the Impermanence of it All!

A nice 8km there and back to Start Stadium.  Dead legs, not too bad on the back.  A following the breath run until I turned it into loving kindness meditation over the last 2km. 

Although I have to say there wasn't much following of the breath between 2km and 6km, there was a lot of pondering the phenomena of impermanence.  Yesterday's run was merely a test whereas today I managed to let craving get in the way and hope that all would go well, when in fact I've gotten myself out of shape about 3 dozens times in my life, you would think I would remember that the 2nd run back after a long break like this (3 weeks) is going to be a struggle. 

However, I quickly got in to a two lap session on impermanence that swiftly moved on to craving for it to be better, which then moved on to trying to stay concentrate on right now and not planning the future, I found myself doing a silly 200 meters of thinking about how many km's I might run this week, and then snapped back to the breath.  in general a nice run out there.  Right now is the best teaching moment.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Trying Again, and Again, and Again

Ran 7 days ago.  That run was quite pleasant, but it was not pleasant the next day or the day after.  As a result I have not run since last Sunday.  Over the course of those days I also stopped doing core and any of the stretching  had been doing, with the exception of some stretching for my hips in a continuing effort to try and move toward at least an appropriate half lotus if not one day full meditation position.

I almost went out the door yesterday but at the last second decided it was better to rest another day and see what happened over the course of Sunday.  I slept in and then watched the womens' marathon for the Olympics.  What a miserable course!  It isn't polite, but there seem to be a lot better ways to get in 42 km in London than a 2.2 loop and then 3 8 mile loops with turn around of all things.  Well, ....

Over the last week I've had the opportunity to really work with impermanence on the metro meditations and in my reading.  While not extolling the virtues of anything, all I can say it is pleasant for me.

Last night, however, I failed in any sort of ability to maintain an even view of things.  The 10,000 km mens race in London was really just amazing to watch.  Not only that I saw the entire thing since I am watching the games on an HDMI connection from Eurosport Player to my television.

The way the race unfolded and the way the Africans had not planned for what can only be described as a change toward African training methods by the Salazar group was fun to watch.  The build up to the last 400 was special.  so much work by so many people and so crammed together with 400 to go.

The final 200 was something to watch, both Farah and Rupp seemed to explode out of the turn like they had run in this very pain this very 100 1,000 times before Saturday night.  Made want to put on shoes and run.

And so I did today.  I managed to talk myself out of something stupid and ran over to the track. Before starting I settled the breath and followed it through the majority of the run.  I did however monitor the back and found that it didn't hurt at all, but my left hip did.  In considering this phenomena I moved toward whether it was my pain or just pain.  I got there in the end.  I ran at Start Stadium (the match of death stadium), there an back plus 3 miles on the track for a 7.3 km total. 

Some light stretching tonight.  and tomorrow hopefully will be able to do a second day of something light easy and not very long tomorrow.  If I can't I'll try again the next day and the day after.