Running with Lama

I love books. Paper ones. So when the Kindle was introduced about four years ago, it took some thought before asking for one as a Christmas present from my husband. Practical Me won out over Romantic Notion me, as it has frequently after turning from Thirties Me to Forties Me. I enjoyed being able to take my Kindle, and thus a vast array of books, with me everywhere. I could even read Fifty Shades Of Gray in public. And I did. Don’t give me that judgy look.

When I stepped up and bought an iPad, it became even easier to take the world of books with me, as well as music and movies. This past winter…if I dare call it past…the cold kept me from running outside and I was left to the dreaded treadmill. But even treadmill running became easier with my introduction to Netflix. I discovered that running while watching documentaries was awesome. Like someone putting a scoop of ice cream in a piña colada. I love them both, so yes.

Now that it has somewhat defrosted and I can run outside again, I broke out the iPod and began running to music. Running to music keeps me fast. When I am running three miles, fast is good. When I am running over five miles, fast is bad. At nine miles, like today, fast isn’t gonna happen. I solved the problem by combining my love of books and documentaries and downloading an audiobook onto my iPod. The book, which I was already reading, is The Art of Happiness, by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, Ph.D.

There is a peace to listening to this book that I could not obtain while reading it. While the voice that portrays the Dalai Lama is not his, it is one that is, well, Tibetenesque. (“I’m not a Dalai Lama, but I play one on an audiobook….”) It is a soothing voice that calms and quiets the listener, which is what I needed to make my pace a slower, more natural one.

Besides the calming voice, there are other reasons I found this morning’s run to be… (Help me out here. “Good,” “pleasurable,” “fun,” not words to describe a nine mile run. Let’s just go with…) less bad than it could have been. By actively listening to his words, my mind was taken off its usual train of thought when I am running. (“Ow, ow, ow, ow.” “How long have I been out here?” “What mile am I on?” “Hey, look, a bird,” “This damn Garmin can’t be right.”) My first five miles flowed very easily, as I was focused on something other than my own thoughts. Listening to his words about compassion and love, and about how we can train ourselves to give and receive both of those things, was of great interest to me. At times, I stopped the book to think about how closely what he said related to what Christ taught through parables. Time and miles passed quickly while my mind was so focused.

The last four miles were more difficult, as my hips finally realized what was going on and decided to whine about it. It was at that point in the book that the concept of suffering was discussed. It was as if the Dalai was there with me, running next to me in his flowing maroon robes, telling me to quit complaining about my slight physical discomfort, as others are truly suffering from torture and war and abject poverty. His words spoke of how we should be more empathetic to the suffering of others, and even take the suffering of others upon ourselves in order to ease their pain. Again, this called to mind Christ’s suffering and gift of grace.

We kept this deep conversation going until the last half mile, when I told him “Ok, thanks, but shut up now. I need to listen to Katy Perry,” and she and I Roared up the hill to my house. Sometimes you just have to get off your Lama and run.

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