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)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday, Impermanence, and Footsteps

Mid day, 15km, woke late, read the news, had a cup of coffee, went for a run.

This cold is working me over pretty good, but I feel really good after I finish the runs, it has always been this way for me, running makes me feel better physically.

It rained pretty hard last night and it rained today in the a.m. (I was sleeping) and there were light sprinkles a couple of times during the run.  The last mile however was in hard rain and of course something to enjoy.  But also remember that it doesn't last and if you are still running when the rain stops there is a goo chance there will be some suffering.  Nothing is permanent.

Worked hard on managing the foot plant and again felt like it was pretty good.  No real view, just assessment that I was mindful of my foot plant, especially the left foot, the entirety of the run.  The other part of today's mindfulness was on impermanence.  It is fall now, the leaves are turning, the different colors remind me that 30 days ago everything was very green as a result of rain; now everything is turning colors as a result of changes in the temperature.  Nothing stays the same, thinking that it will only causes suffering.  It seems so brutal, but so truthful, some say negative, however, I'm coming to believe that it is neither negative or brutal, it just is.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Almost, but not a disaster

15k on Saturday mid day.  Nothing on Friday.  Unfortunately I developed a case of the week kneed namby pamby on Friday.  Thursday night I felt myself starting to get a stuffy nose and definitely felt not great during my 10 a.m. class on Friday.  I intended to go back to the hours, rest for a bit and then run, instead I slept 3 hours.  Not sure if it is tiredness, or illness, or being rundown.  Who knows.  No views, lets try that.

Today I went 15k.  Not bad, pleasant around the usual new course.  Focused pretty good on my foot plant but it really is noticeable how quickly you can get out of good foot work in just one step, especially if you change stride pattern to turn or go over a curb or move left or right.  This form of meditation has been quite helpful over the last few weeks.  Unfortunately, I did not stay in the now and decided to wonder how long it would be like this before it was automatic, I got my answer, not now, because I was running like a duck within two seconds of having the thought.  Always nice to be reminded of the importance of right mindfulness in the eightfold path.

Sunday tomorrow, I'm writing these two reports from China this weekend, so it will be good to run tomorrow.  Stay in the now.

Not a bad week, 15k 5 times.  Wanted 6 times but that is craving and grasping.  Can only try again next week.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day to Day

got in 15k today.  What a long day.  Up early to teach a one to one class at 8:00 a.m., meeting at 11, meeting at 12, finished at 1, tried to get home and run, managed to do so.  Back to the school for a 4 p.m. meeting, teaching from 7 p.m. to 9:15 pm.  Long day.

Ran mid afternoon, obviously, the weather was very nice.  Three days ago, Monday, I had to wear a long sleeve shirt to run.  The last three days has been short sleeve weather and today it was about 24 C while running. 

The modified 15k course, without the huge hill, seems to have done the trick for my back, for now.  In addition, maintaining a lot of mindfulness on foot strike and posture also helps.   I am however, beginning to feel tired, and with a long day like today, who know what tomorrow will bring.  I teach at 10 then hope to come home and run around 1 p.m. 

Regarding yesterday, just can only take it day to day, stay mindful.  Renounce ego, views, opinions.  Day to day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting Used to Disappointment

Mid morning 15k again today.  Rained hard last night for most of the night.  Woke to a very foggy humid day.  It certainly was very wet out there.  The run itself was time on my feet, mileage posture, feet not bad.  everything else was a mess.

I had a horrific day at work yesterday.  As a result I had a great deal of anger and that anger never went away.  Very unwholesome thoughts all the way around.  I kept trying to bring it to the foot plant or anything wholesome, did loving kindness metta before the run.  Just a really bad mental experience.  Yesterday's experience at work was just the kind of thing where you know that you are seriously suffering inside from what you may perceive to be a very wrong thing happening to you.  Some of this was ego, some of it was feelings, so of it was perception.  I need to meditate a lot on all of this because it is only causing me suffering, at least I can identify the suffering though.  If I stay mindful...

In addition as part of that conversation I was told that the Ukrainian government was doing everything possible to make it so foreigners wouldn't work in Ukraine.  I was also told that certainly the people who have taken a certain course (DELTA) could handle most of the work that I do in my job and that of course for the third year in a row I would need to take a pay cut to stay at the school.

Topping this off I was attacked on my run today.  Ukrainians, disappointment.  At least I didn't get hurt, three guys tried to jump on me as I was running by and then they chased me for about 50 meters, but of course they were mildly moronic Svoboda types (they are the hard core nationalist that believe only Ukrainians should live in Ukraine, apparently they didn't get the memo about their being a whole big world out there).  Ukraine, disappointment, get used to it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Up early, but not to run, but then...

Up about 6:45 because I had a one to one student to teach from 8 to 9:30.  Got back to the flat about 10:30, hit the road by 10:45.  15k for the day.

Really tired on the way back from work, did a light loving kindness meditation on the marshrutka back to the house.  That seemed helpful and perked me up a bit which led to some nice mindfulness on the walk from the marshrutka stop to the flat.  Still I could feel yesterday's easy run on my legs.

However, this run was just the joy of running.  I endeavored to keep mindful of the foot plant the whole way, which I did for probably 99% of the run.  I also worked a bit on unsatisfactoriness and impermanence in the last half of the run as I noticed I sped up in some places but then eased back off just because I want to run tomorrow. 

This new 15k route requires staying in the now also.  Running it clockwise is "easier" on staying in the now than counter clockwise.  The counter clockwise route is 3.5 miles of straight road to finish so looking ahead is of no use.  That is a good phenomena to contemplate.

So fortunate to just be able to go out there and do it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kyiv and Impermanence

Back in Kyiv up early, for me, to run.  Couldn't sleep past about 7:30 am. today.  Slept a lot on the flight back from Beijing, the whole 8 hours in fact.  Took a nap during the day sunday for 2.5 hours and then from about 11:00 to 7:30.  But I feel pretty good.

Up and out the door about 8:15 and went 15k.  Fairly pleasant, I just ran, nothing quick just getting back to running in Kyiv.  Trying to stay mindful of foot plant which seems to be easing along nicely.  But also trying to say mindful of wholesomeness.  I did not do very well with this.  I kept jumping to unwholesome thoughts, but at least I was mindful that it was happening and kept returning to concentration.

On the other hand, running in China the streets and sidewalks were great, returning to Kyiv I felt like I was running through an area that had just had a war.  The streets are really messed up compared to my last runs.  This was something I tried to stay with and remember that there was no control over that and this is the reason to be mindful of what is happening with the feet so as not to lose concentration.

Run done, off to work and then back to getting my schedule to where I can try and take care of each mileage each day, taking it day by day.  Each run is different, nor is it MY run, impermanent.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

7 days in China, or how the Censor didn't let me blog

The Reason:

My parent company, International House World Organization, asked me to inspect two schools in China, IH Xi'an and IH Hangzhou.  They paid, I went.

The Travel:

Back again, its 23.09.12.  I've been in China.  I left on the 15th after a very nice 15k run in the morning.  I flew from Kyiv to Beijing, arriving Sunday, 16.09.12 at 4:45 a.m. (there is a 5 hour time difference).  I then flew at 8:00 a.m. to Xi'an, China where I spent Sunday through late Wednesday 19.09.12.  Late that evening I flew to Hangzhou, China and arrived after midnight on 20.09.12 and left Saturday at 8:50 p.m., arriving in Beijing at midnight, and spending 5:30  hours in the airport in Beijing waiting for the return flight to Kyiv, arriving in Kyiv at 10:15 a.m. Kyiv time on Sunday 23.09.12.

The running:

Really bizarre unfortunately.  I didn't run Sunday due to the jetlag that I thought I would have, I was right not, to as I wasn't taken to my hotel until almost 7 hours after I arrived.  After arriving in Xi'an I was taken to see the terra cotta warriors which was amazing.  But there was certainly no running.  I intended to run every day of the week about 15k.  Didn't happen.

The first run was probably the most fascinating, though in each way all the runs were interesting and enlightening in so many different areas.  I had used my Google Earth, which you can use, mostly, in China to map out from my hotel to the "city" which is guarded by the oldest intact wall in China.  This wall is about 16km in total circumference and makes a perfect square.  While Xi'an is a city of 8 million people this inner area is considered the city.

Woke up at 6:00 a.m., had a cup of coffee, and started running at 6:30 a.m.   It was daylight and about 19 C outside.  There wasn't much traffic but there was some, the first 6 minutes was uneventful but then I turned onto a street that was full of people cooking food outside, various people cooking various foods all of it cultural of course.  I then went down another street and this one was almost empty except for the people setting up their sections to provide the fresh food for the day for people.  These people, when I ran back would spent most of the morning selling various regional food, that had yet to be cooked (interestingly, no raw meat, which is different from Kyiv street sellers, because certainly they eat a lot meat in this city) and then I turned on to a major road which was tree lined.

Both Xi'an and Hangzhou have two sets of streets plus a sidewalk.  The sidewalks were wide and accomodating and certainly much better than the ones I run on in Kyiv in terms of how they were constructed and how they felt to run on.  The first street is the street for mopeds, bicycles and buses, and the the third street is the street for traffic.  I rarely ran on the third street.  I bet you can guess how man mopeds and bicycles were actually on the sidewalks.  But at this point in this run there were not a lot of people out, it was still only about 6:45.

My intention was to run 40 minutes out and 40 minutes back. At about 20 minutes I reached the city Wall.  I crossed over and headed around the outside of it which has a walking path around the entire thing.  Man was it busy.  Incredible amount of exercise going on.  The first thing I see when I turn the first corner is a line of about 30 ping pong tables and every one of them has a match going on. These weren't young people they were easily 20 years older than me, one match was so incredible that the women on my side of the table was 3 meters off the table in the path hitting back ripping forehands to her competitor.  It was loud and lots of people were watching and their were ping pong balls flying everywhere.  But that was just the beginning.

Around the next corner was a group of people doing exercises of their own creating but they all involved striking a part of the body hard with loud grunting.  Next area was fixed equipment, much chinese morning exercise must be to stimulate blood flow because almost every machine involved but movement and some sort of slapping on the body somewhere.

as I continue to run and have my head on a swivel, my mindfulness was not the best, but it was very interesting.  It got real quiet I turned the corner and there were literally 500 people lined up on each side of the path doing morning stretches and exercises, there was a fog here off the moat water as well, it looked like something off the discovery channel, i was struck by how fascinating it was and how lucky i was.  My run repeated like this for 40 minutes out and then i turned around and at about 59 minutes I headed back on to the street.

Small problem it was now about 7:30 a.m. and this road was packed, there were bodies everywhere.  These mopeds go against the traffic, same with the bikes, and horns everywhere, everywhere a horn.  Finally got off that road and up the road with the fresh food being sold.  Unfortunately it gets a bit hazy here.

For some reason I missed a turn and at 1:19:38 I stopped the watch and looked around and I had no idea where I was.  Really bizarre, so I started to to try to find building landmarks and started running again.  The problem was for me that there was no one who could speak any English and I had forgottena bout he hotel card which could have helped me.  I ran and I ran, felt like in circles, at one point I had to cross a major highway, I didn't feel so bad though since about 10 other people were doing it.

I found an Intercontinental Hotel!  I walked in there and found someone who could barely speak English and managed to get one of their maps.  Looked like I was about 1.5 kms from where I wanted to be after about 20 minutes of running lightly.  So I started on my way and stopped twice to ask people where to go by pointing to my hotel card.  This helped.  I managed to get home after running for close to two hours.

I called it 20km.  The running itself was wonderful.  The trisp around the outer wall was soooo cool.   the sheer humanity of the people was almost too much.

On Tuesday, I rose early again, did the same thing but I went 27 minutes out and back, but did not get lost this time.  I intended to do 10k because I had gone farther they day before.  This was a very nice run, but still alot of people.  The other thing was I was already beginning to feel real fatigued.

I think some of this was from the diet of Xi'an Chinese food which clearly I was not used to.  Also, the work was exhausting.  On Tuesday I spent a large part of the day on buses and out in the sun presenting plagues to communist party officials opening cultural centers in the name of IH Xi'an, while strange, it was all very tiring.  All also did not anticipate how the tremendous language barrier would exhaust me.

On Wednesday I just rolled over and went back to sleep.  I couldn't do it.  But I had the same thing with the outside and the cutlure presentations as well.  Also I had to fly to Hangzhou and did not get there until after 1:00 p.m. and did not go to bed till after 2:30 p.m.  As a result

No morning run on Thursday. I also was really tired by the end of the day.  But in the end I put the shoes on and run for about 45 minutes in the dark. I found a great little trail along one of the rivers and then ran in the city in some back alleys and streets and managed to work my way back.  Again, a lot of people  but I was running and that felt very good.  This run was really slow.

On Friday, nothing, even worse on Saturday, pure exhaustion, on Sunday I was on an airplane and hopefully I can start again on Monday.

In terms of Mindfulness:  the main action was in focusing on where I was at all times so as not to get too lost at any one place.  I also focused on the foot steps and the fact that I did this seems to be a good sign that I am staying on this area a lot.

All in all it is a fascinating place.  But tough to get runs in if you just jump off the plane, go straight to work, and still think you will get 15km a day in.

Why didn't I write all week?  The censor wouldn't let me near the blog.  Too bad, it would have been a better entry, or series of entries if it had.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

3 Hard Days

The positive:  I ran all three days, 15k Tuesday, 12k Wednesday, 15k today.  But oh the negatives.  This week I'm trying to get in 84 km for the week.  Monday was a rest day and then back at it on Tuesday.  Tuesday worked out really well, very good mindful approach to foot plant. 

Its an interesting phenomena about this mindfulness of foot plant.  It is so different from following the breath as a mindfulness approach.  You work on every step you take.  You seldom come out of the mindfulness, it has been very insightful for me.  Not the least of which is that it has shown me that since the comeback from the broken feet so long ago my left foot plant was/is really out of whack and clearly the cause of some of my previous injury problems which were solved with the inserts.  It also is an indicator of my false diagnosis of atypical neuroma metatarsalgia.  If I step right I don't have the problem. However, the down side is that my feet are having to get used to the correct steps again and that is kind of strange.  I really have to stay focused.

Unfortunately, my work on Wednesday and Thursday prevented morning runs.  Actually, I prevented the morning run on Wednesday because I completely failed to have right speech, right action, right effort and mindfulness, or let ego slide away as a result of things that happened at work on Tuesday.  The result was very little sleep on Tuesday night.  I ended up running hard on Wednesday night for 12k.  I didn't intend it to be hard, it just turned out to be a good strong run.  Luckily I was able to stay mindful on the foot plant because emotionally I was a complete wreck. 

Again this too was insightful and shows that I still have a very long way to go till I have the kind of knowledge and use of the Noble eightfold path that some people might consider appropriate.  I have opinions and I have views, neither of which is a useful way to go about things.  My Wednesday run was driven by more hurtful words that I suffered, but they are just words I hope, I continue to meditate on how ego got in the way and how my incorrect speech was the cause of much of the problem.  Live and learn right.

Today's run was 15k and it was after I gave a presentation on customer satisfaction at the school.  I came home midday and got the run in.  I wanted to run early but just couldn't do it.  I ended up have a very bad blood sugar drop about 3:30 a.m. last night and ate most of the fruit in the refrigerator, thus causing a wonderful high blood sugar when I got up. So I took some insulin and got some more sleep.   I was determined to run though.  Again, very good mindfulness with the footplant. 

I don't know how long this meditation theme will last.  What I do know is that the week has been eventful and thus many phenomena have arisen and fallen. 

I go to China on Saturday afternoon.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday stroll

Out about mid afternoon today.  Very windy.  15k today.  The leaves are falling, but the dogs don't care.  I thought today was a very mindful work out.  I worked foot plant almost the entire run, I figure 95% of the run.  About 10 k I got a twinge in my back and I was mindful of my posture and that quickly took care of the twinge in my back.  It looks like that is definitely a thing with posture.

Toward the end of the day I got a very nice meditation in also.  In addition during the run I was able to contemplate ego for a bit and work on a problem at work that has been bothering for me.  Looks like my ego is in the way on this situation and I need to show some insight in to myself and let go of what I think should be done and let others have their chance.  I'll do that on Monday.

Rest day Monday.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Babushka

Everything taken care of this week.  Mileage that I wanted to accomplish was accomplished.  Interesting aside, I've always, and most people where I come from, call it mileage, but now I track everything in kilometers, not miles.  Does that mean I should be calling it kilometerage.  (the word itself gets a squiggly read line from Bill Gates).

Since the last entry I've had some success with getting up and just going forward with the run.  I've had help though, I am currently reading "Running with the Mind of Meditation" by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.  I've been thinking that there had to be something else I could be getting from my running and meditation.  So, with this as a I guide I have stripped back expectations a bit in terms of what to meditate on for the current time.  I hope to move forward back to what I was trying in the last couple of weeks after working through this book for a bit. 

The crux is that I have focused on foot plant for the last three runs.  That is to say, every time my left foot hits the ground I am focusing on how it hits, where it hits, the position of the foot in relation to my leg, the ground, etc.  This has been very interesting.  Why?  I'm sure your just dying to know.  If I lose mindfulness on this I find that the foot seems to splay outward. 

Now for today.  I had a twinge in the back after last Sunday's 15k and wondered whether it was because I wasn't working that really big hill correctly.  I decided to change the route around and make it an amalgamation of several other routes, plus on some places I've never run before to take out that hill and now call the course a gentle rolling 15k.  Its still up for about km then down for about 6km but still. 

It was a very good run, very precise with the mindfulness of foot plant.  Rinpoche Sakyong no doubt knows what he is talking about.  But the thing about today was the Babushka.  I was about 36 minutes in and had just come off a new section of the course that I had to plot out each step where I was going next because I'd never been there, I turned headed up a hill and was turning on to a road that also is part of my 25k route when I see the intersection.  It is like a T intersection but its Kyiv so its every man woman and child for themselves to cross this road. 

And I see this Babushka (easily 85 years old) with a four legged walker that she is resting on in the middle of the intersection halfway through, I see the traffic light, she'll never make it she is only half way and there are cars whipping by this woman.  I make a decision.  Hit stop on the watch and walked to her.  She looked at me and I think she was screaming at me that the cars wouldn't stop, but I wasn't sure.  I stayed right next to her until a car finally stopped, and then the car on the other side stopped, this instantly made for a traffic jam.  She didn't want to move, so I said to her in Russian (look babushka everything is okay) it is about all the Russian I have that is grammatically correct.  So she stated.  I waited until she got past the first car and half way past the second, because the first car really wanted me out of the way, then I ran.

A good run today.  Stay mindful.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Monkey with Discipline?

12k this morning again.  It took some work to get going though.  This was interesting to me.  I am still not sure why I seem to have trouble getting started.  In fact the run was quite nice, very wholesome, monkey mind but nothing extraordinary in terms of thinking.  Just was unable to keep focused on the breath for any real period of time.

I am intrigued about the continuing issue of getting out the door in the morning during the week.  Various feelings passed through, time constraints (needed to be at work in 2.5 hours), but there was more than enough time to do the run.  Difficulty getting walking?  Not really, after about 10 minutes I'm awake and after some coffee I am ready to go. 

This reflection though is productive.  Is it craving?  What kind of craving?  To run, or not to run?  Well I want to run.  This element of time seems to be the chance to talk myself out of doing the run.  Time?  Is this craving for control of the time?  An interesting phenomenon.

Still, like most runs it was mileage in the bank and nothing horrible, fantastic, merely neutral but those are the ones that build the bank.

A monkey out there, but disciplined enough to run and work through the time issue?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In the morning

I finally managed to get my rest day all the way to Monday, which had been my goal.  So today I did 12k in the morning before going in to work.  A lot of traffic.  I mean a lot of traffic.  But interesting phenomenon.

I felt a bit dead in the legs but the pace was consistent and an unremarkable time on the roads other than attempting to follow the breath but having monkey mind.  The difference being that monkey was not about unwholesome, it was just random thoughts coming and going.  The phenomena however was working with sound, with all that traffic I managed to work with the breath and the monkey enough to just acknowledge the sound as being sound and nothing else.  Some days I can't do that very well at all and the noise of the cars bothers me, today was not that day.

Hope to run in the morning again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Week, Different Person, Different Mindfulness

A quick turnaround for me.  15k at about 9 a.m. today.  I usually go once every 24 hours, but systems create craving, craving creates disappointment, which in turn gives you anger, and the dependent arising goes on and on.  So, I decided to see what a 12 hour turnaround feels like these days.

Not bad, very easy Sunday run, nothing major other than the roads seem to be getting worse and worse and every time they fix one the road people don't seem to put it back together even close to the way it was before. It looks like there is a dearth of asphalt and therefore there are long stretches of roads that are uneven paved.  The 15k route has a hum dinger of a hill on it, as I've written before and today after the run there seems to be a twinge in the back in the usual place.  Could it be the approach to running the hill is long, too much lean maybe?  A nice run with a quick turnaround showing that it just isn't that big a deal and the 'system' as I call it is actually a crutch.

Interesting phenomena today was how the mind gets better on these longer runs.  Of course I was workign on following the breath and in the beginning it was less than successful, continually finding myself returning to the breath after losing it and floating off on some stupid thing in the future that will probably never happen but my worry over it gets in the way of any skillful concentration.

But the longer you are out there, and the more you start to just run, the better the concentration becomes and you can just follow the breath.  One at a time.  which always leads me to impermanence and the fact that every millisecond is a different road, shoe, sock, person.  I set no goals, as the person who achieves them will not be the person who set them.  But I do plan to wake up and go to work tomorrow and go moment by moment.  It will be a different person who wakes up, but maybe that person will be mindful?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The end of an up and down week

Did not run yesterday.  I was unable to get out the door after I got home.  Friday was the last day of the first week, or orientation week, of the new year.  With my job duties that means that I spent most of the day going back and forth between the front desk, my director's office, and my chair where my computer is making continuous adjustments to the teaching timetable. 

For me the timetable is a difficult experience.  I really would like for it to be nice and tight and easy to work with.  This of course is a craving for control.  In actuality it is humanly just not possible. The first reason is the type of demographic, our clients just don't come in conveniently, they come in whenever they want and expect us to do our thing for them.  That means that the time table is changing constantly.  It is in fact a true testament to trying to renounce craving for control.

The issue for me is not being able to renounce ego about it.  I think the changes to the timetable are a direct reflection on me.  which of course they aren't. Ego, you are not nice.

So I didn't run yesterday, emotionally I was spent.  I had a tough week with some teachers as well and that was pretty difficult to work through also. 

Ran today, nice little 12k.  I made the decision to continue on with the process of upping the mileage so today I hope to go with 4 12ks and 2 15ks next week.  With one day off.

Back to the run, nice a easy, good stuff.  Everyone is different, it is an up and down thing, not to be controlled.