“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” – Aristotle
I’ve experienced countless runs where I know I could have gone further or faster if I had someone with me, pushing me, driving me forward. While I know this to be true, I also know that there are many runs that were best done alone, and in those solitary moments I was able to get something from my efforts that could not have been reached with someone else present.
You may know what I’m talking about here; it’s those moments where Sri Chinmoy would say you have transcended your body. You are trucking along and perhaps doing it hard when a curious thing happens; you stop trying to run and simply let it happen. Essentially you get out of the way; you remove yourself, your ego and your expectations from the equation. For me at least, in these solitary moments I find something that is so attractive and enticing and it leaves me hungry for more.
There is something in this state of disconnectedness that is still so very connected. I recently had a discussion with someone that is practicing mindfulness, a heightened state of awareness of themselves and their place in the world. What we are discussing here is perhaps both mindfulness and mindlessness. In these moments of effortless energy, we are simultaneously completely aware of and appreciative of our environment and at the same time separate to it, unaffected by and comfortable with it.
I was first exposed to this “feeling” while training in the Martial Arts. I would be pushed to my limits and just when I thought I couldn’t carry on, I would retreat into my head and stop trying to force the effort. Something would shift and then effort would be replaced with ease. I felt like I could keep going for as long as I needed to and the intensity wouldn’t matter. It definitely took the action of disconnecting from the effort though for it to happen. As the years went by, I found it easier to reach this state and in running I discovered another way to tap into it.
I love this quote from Aristotle about reveling in solitude and being like a wild beast or a god. I don’t know about being a god, but I can definitely relate to the feeling of being a wild beast. This is perhaps the best way to describe this concept of effortless energy; as a wild beast you are not running in nature, you are nature running. What could be more natural than letting these supreme vehicles that we have been given, the chance to just go?
There is so much joy to be had running in groups or with a friend and I will write more about this in the future, but don’t forget to make time for a little solitude so that your beast can take over and do its thing.