Master of fate, captain of soul

 Man devised religions to conquer nature – 8

Nail bed

It’s quarter to nine in the evening. I have just returned from my 7-km jog quite wet.  I was restless having rested for a long stretch of time in front of my computer screen. Outside I saw the dark clouds. My body demanded exercise and my brain obeyed. Sweating in the rain reminded me of the comment that Professor Saint face-booked regarding the hot sun I had to bear during my last race and performing badly: “I am glad that you listen to your body”.

“What does he mean,” I wondered. Then I flashed back, “If I had listened to my body forty years ago you would not be reading this or I would be in a wheel chair.”

Then my brain jumped to Nelson Mandela who often quoted William Ernest Henley:  “I am the master of my fate.  I am the captain of my soul.”

My thought process accelerated and the rain served as a coolant.

“The brain is a part of my body, the part that thinks. That is not wholly true. Research has shown that thinking occurs even in the micro-cell. Why doesn’t the brain tell me? It seems that it keeps all the secrets except two: pain and sometimes pleasure!”

Then I returned to the earlier thought, “If I had listened to the pain in my knees I would not be here”.

Ignoring the pain that skips from one part of my left knee to another, the brain adopts a fast mode churning out ideas and images that it puts into some logical form.

“I’m fickle,” the brain admitted. “I transmit only the pain messages, so that this man would stop all his stupid running and stop doing the TV-gym attracted to the lovely silhouette of Sandrine.”

People in general like things that give them pleasure. They listen to the slightest pain and run to the doctor. They think that they are listening to the body but do not know that the fickle brain is cheating them. They submit that the brain is their master. They find it impossible to govern their brains.

Thinking of hypochondriacs who fane pain when there is none, my brain relaxed and took over the management of my body. My jogging pace slowed down although going downhill. I was awakened by a twinge in my left knee. I tensed my body, took its control and soon the pain vanished.

My shaken brain saw a skinny Hindu fakir or sadhu sleeping comfortably on a bed of sharp nails and another twisting his body into contortions, I guess painful. It also saw a staunch member of the Roman Catholic order flagellating his body and willingly accepting the excruciating pain. It also recalled the annual self-flagellation ceremony of Shia Muslims.

“These people are my enemies,” my brain declared, “because they want to reveal my secret without understating what they are doing. They want to reduce my pain transmission system and know about the other thinking network spread to the micro-cells. I know, they want to prove that against the evident wish of the brain, the body has always been able to repair, adjust, and reinforce itself without informing the owner. Surely my brain knows it all but I don’t.

Then I briefly closed my eyes to pay respect to Nelson Mandela and his master William Ernest Henley who put to practice: “I am the master of my fate.  I am the captain of my soul.”

I completed my jog two minutes faster than normal.



Why running is a top-quality meditation

 Man devised religions to conquer nature – 7


Running in Mandement (Geneva) Saturday 29 August 2015

The commonly known practice of meditation is a proven mental therapy and a way to cool down and relax nerves after a strenuous day of taking decisions. Yet I often ponder if meditation as typically practiced and not doing anything else really leads to total wholesome health, physical and mental.

Yogis and gurus offer their services to their disciples in innumerable centres to achieve mental states as:

  • Emptying the brain in order to calm down.
  • Breathing deeply using the diaphragm to increase the lung capacity.
  • Practicing a certain way of nasal respiration in order to improve oxygen intake to a specific sector of the brain.
  • Lifting the consciousness to a higher spiritual level.

The yogic thinking rightly considers the human being to be a unit. For it to function ideally the whole and its every part up to the microcellular level must be made to play its role optimally.

When I see a person in the process of meditation I notice that the body and brain are dormant, if not totally asleep. The need for oxygen intake is minimal. During this state, forced increase of inhaled oxygen is not used. In fact a part of the normally inhaled oxygen is exhaled-the system does not require it. The only active compartment I can imagine is the poor brain struggling, in spite of repeating yogic mantra, to empty itself of all thoughts! All other body cells are at rest requiring no extra food nor oxygen to burn it.

My brain raises all these absorbing questions when I run briskly on a 7-km rough track in the woods near where I live. Am I stupid sweating out twice a week when I could have achieved wholesomeness sitting down comfortably meditating?

The responses came fairly quickly also during these runs; but it took much courage and time to pen them down.

Firstly, I would not have learnt that running is a superior meditation if I had not run. This, however, would not be an issue for a meditator: one troubling thought less in the brain!  A short warm up and stretching followed by running I gradually reach the speed expected for a 78-year old. What do I notice?

  • Almost all muscular and structural parts of my body are exerting, rhythmically lifting and landing my 67kg from on foot to another.
  • In response, my heart pounds and pushes oxygenated blood and food to every cell, including those of the brain, because they need them.
  • In order to supply more oxygen to the cells my brain commands the lungs to expand and inhale at the maximum capacity possible and make sure to discard out carbon dioxide.
  • For an efficient exchange of gases in the lungs I need to extend my diaphragm fully. I wish I had a few more nostrils and bigger mouth and a larger chest! Soon I reach my cruising speed and I start breathing almost normally; no huffing and puffing.
  • While I am running my brain concentrates on some innovative idea or a solution to a problem. Using some built-in automatic navigation mode it guides my feet over stones and tree roots and allows itself to concentrate on a single issue such as thinking about the potency of meditation. Inhaling fresh air I become one with the wondrous envelop of nature. Isn’t that also the objective of a true yogi? Being one with nature? The true meaning of spiritual consciousness?  (SPIRITUALITY defined)
  • After running a short distanced my brain empties itself of all restlessness, tension, worry and worldliness in the form of sweat. The rest of the run is like being in the paradise, if it exits. Does a person in meditation sweat? His union with nature is only imaginary in his brain. The genuine one is outside his window!

After showering and satisfying my sharpened appetite I can sit in front of my computer and my brain can concentrate effortlessly on the task. Physical restlessness has been effaced. The following day when I walk I feel as if I am floating effortlessly. What a wholesome feeling!

All highly placed extremely busy persons including ministers, chief executive officers, and professionals usually jog early in the morning. They draw up and resolve their day’s agenda during the run. For them it is meditation. I feel so relieved that they confirm my findings.