While running I have a lot of time to be in my head. I try to be more mindful and just enjoy the moment but that’s tough, instead my monkey brain likes to wander, plan, reminisce, and imagine conversations that will never happen. Recently, these conversations are with Jason Momoa.
You see, the new “Swamp Thing” TV series is currently filming in here in Wilmington and, for some reason, I got it into my head that Jason Momoa was in it. I’m not sure how that happened but it did. So while running I’ve had these kinda day dreams that they will be filming in the park on my run route. Of course I stop to watch the filming and somebody notices that I’m running without a shirt in 30 degree weather, which leads to Jason inviting me to hang out and chat while they film.
The conversation usually centers around how I handle the cold weather and starts with a simple, “Aren’t you cold?” In which I respond cleverly, “do you want the short answer or the long answer?” And, because it is my running daydream I get to answer both. So, do I get cold while running in 30 degree weather?
Short answer: Yes
Long answer: I am working to use language that doesn’t attach my identity to feelings. So, when “I” am cold I break it down into greater detail. The concept of “cold” is relative, it is a convenient linguistic short cut that really means, “The current temperature is lower than what is comfortable for me.” One person’s cold is another person’s hot. Undoubtedly, because I’ve been running since August sans any clothing that I can without getting arrested I have am more comfortable at lower temperatures than others.
Even the idea of “comfort” can warrant some further analysis. When I say I’m uncomfortable, what is actually happening? This question is where my mindfulness meditation practice starts to show some benefit. Instead of thinking “I’m uncomfortable” I try and pinpoint the feeling more precisely. For example, “my hands hurt” become “The tips of three of the fingers on the right hand have a tingling and pulsing warm sensation. The muscles in both hands are moving more slowly than before and feel ‘full’. When stimulated the fingers transmit signals to meant to discourage further stimulation.”
This re-wording of my internal dialogue (in the form of an imaginary explanation to Jason Momoa) removes my identity from the experience. By doing that, I am not longer trapped by the experience, it isn’t a part of me, it is simply a change in the environment that can be noted and explored. And, surprisingly, as I catalog the different changes and sensations I actually become less uncomfortable.
I had a similar experience at the dentist recently. I was getting a crown put in and the numbing stuff (Novocaine… is that still what is used) started to wear off. My first response was, “Oh shit, this is starting to hurt”, but I did my best to use some of the meditation techniques I’ve used and instead I tried to observe and explore the feeling. This “pain” became “a spherical object pulsing with warmth, it vibrates regularly with stimulation from the drill outside, electrical currents are being sent down into the gums.” And, guess what, I didn’t really notice any pain. The experience wasn’t “mine”, it was something I was simply observing.
Freaking amazing. Minds are freaking amazing.
Post Script: I figured out why I thought Jason Momoa was in Swamp Thing. The casting call webpage for Wilmington has a photo of him on it because he is part of the DC universe. Hmm, I think I’m going to submit photos for the casting call, could be fun 🙂
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Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did! It desperately needs to be redone with a professional editor involved but here it is!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”