Mindfulness Matters

I was running my morning vigil with the dogs on the back trails of a public park near my home. When I stepped outside the house, I could hear the helicopter droning above in the foggy sky. As we headed into the thick of the woods, the helicopter was more of a presence, circling just above. “What is it doing?” I wondered. As we ran, the helicopter seemed to follow us adding a loud, mechanical noise to the quiet hush of the forest. The landscape of now took on a new quality.

Was this a training exercise? What were they looking for? Just as we reached the furthest reach of our run, I heard a voice crying out and saw a man, bushwacking through a thicket. He was wearing a large back pack and carrying a walk-talky. He asked, “Did you see any police?” I shouted back, “no.”

“So, it IS a manhunt!” My pulse quickened. Was he the hunter or the hunted? He looked like he could be an officer yet he also looked distressed. I shouted back to the man to get more information but he was heading away and talking on his walky-talky. We watched him for a while as he continued to move through the thicket towards a swamp, instead of coming to the trail.

We continued running and the helicopter started making bigger circles, no longer just overhead. The landscape changed again. I ran as if I were the hunted, outpacing the hunters towards our goal of returning home safely.

I was reminded of the opening passage of Sakyong Mipham’s lovely book on running, Running with the Mind of Meditation. He is running with a group in India and reminds the crew, some of which are Americans that there are tigers in these woods. Tigers or fugitives, take your pick. Their possibility awake us to the danger and aliveness of the moment.

The landscape of now is always changing and always different. Sometimes, in obvious, unexpected ways when a helicopter intrudes itself into the now. At other times, the changes are more subtle. Whatever the changes are, they beg our acceptance. Can we move to include them? This is the challenge we confront in every moment–to accept or resist what is happening.

We did not run into any more police or fugitives on the run. It was exhilirating and fun.