Even in my novice, sporadic, increasingly inflexible way I consider the yoga I do to be physical prayer. The times when I've offered what I do back to Source and then been mindful of that throughout a class I have walked away at the end as high, frankly, as a kite. Or perhaps a hawk.
Yoga lends itself to this quite beautifully but increasingly I'm having the same experience with running.
Last summer I downloaded the C25K app and in seven weeks went from shuffling for 60 seconds and nearly crying, to running 5k comfortably. After that, without the structure of the app to guide me I stopped improving and just did 5k once or twice a week. Then Christmas happened, and dark mornings and afternoons, and family stuff, and my running got pushed back on my list of priorities. Through January I ran only once a week, in fact at one point I didn't run for two weeks. I ate things that didn't always inspire and fuel my body. I couldn't find the time or enthusiasm to drive somewhere that has street lights so I could run in the evenings. This winter I was just not capable of getting up at 5 the way I did the year before.
I'm thankful for the good friend who turned up every Sunday morning and dragged me out on 5k because without her encouragement I would have slipped further. As it was, I was able to see that while I'd maybe added a couple of extra pounds back on (and so what, that's not why I was running) I was still able to keep up.
Last week I ran on Thursday - just a short one with Evie accompanying me on her scooter - and then this Sunday I suggested a new route that might squeeze 6k out of me. We did 7.4. If we hadn't hit a sharp incline at that point I might have done more. It's not even half a half marathon or anything anywhere near that. It's a very short run in the bigger picture but for me it's something.
There were a few times where I really wanted to just stop and walk but it took only a little mental work to keep going. The sight of a hawk sister lifting from a branch and flying overhead helped me imagine her carrying me forwards. Then I held a vision of myself twirling in a woodland, head back, arms outstretched, laughing. I was full of spinning energy which then found its way into my real time feet. At the end of the run I mentally reached out to 'the Beech tree', 'the next bramble', 'the Horse Chestnut tree', 'the nettles', swinging from side to side of the lane in my mind, 'hand over hand' like a monkey.
And here's the thing..they weren't just landmarks to get to and past, they helped me. They reached out and pulled me on. They carried me a bit on this funny little Sunday morning jog and it was a powerful feeling. How did it happen? Simple. We talk.
The time I spend outdoors is now often spent in communication. I have asked to be recognised as a family member and I return the favour. It works. (Yes, my changed relationship with my father has informed this. After all, we human animals are as much part of nature as any other.)
I take time to look and see the life around me and the forms it takes. I honour and respect them. I feel love for them and I talk to them. I am open to their response and it comes through remarkably clearly. As Sarah said in the comments on my last post,'I believe the world is in constant conversation with us'. So do I. We just need to look, listen, feel and trust.
So to circle back to the top, I find I pray/communicate best when my body is engaged in the process. I'm by nature someone who would have danced to drums around a fire or whirled like a dervish and indeed I've done both. I love that I can also take part in that conversation by pulling on a pair of running shoes.