As i’d mentioned in a previous mountain meditation post about Bukhan-san, Jeongbal-san is a small mountain close to where i live in Ilsan. As i had also previously mentioned, i don’t consider Jeonbal-san to be mountain-climbing because it’s too small; it only takes about 15 minutes to get to the top and it’s along fairly nicely laid out paths. However, even though i don’t consider Jeongbal-san to be mountain-climbing and therefore mountain meditation – you’re literally at the top before alpha waves can be generated and you can sink into a meditative state – because i climb Jeongbal-san to work out at their incredible outdoor workout gym, i consider it to be a workout meditation. As i had mentioned in my meta-mountain meditation on Bukhan-san, there are many forms of meditation, in fact, if approached in the correct manner, everything can become a meditative ritual, and so, Jeongbal-san is my workout meditation.
MEDITATION IN ACTION – THE WORKOUT MEDITATION
There are probably many people reading this blog (or, perhaps just you, my only reader :) who workout, or do some sort of physical exercise, whether it be running, walking, biking, alpine walking, skiing, boarding, yoga, soccer, basketball, etc. and you probably already know that it is a form of meditation in action, or you may refer to it as being in “the zone”. Whatever it’s called, that is what drives you to do it. Of course, there are other goals, like losing weight, or overall physical health, but in the end, i believe that most people stick with their chosen form of meditation in action because of that incredible feeling of being “in the zone”, what some people call “runner’s high” due to the release of endorphins and perhaps other hormonal goodies, like dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine.
Is it addictive? Yes. I can personally tell you that I am addicted to the mental calmness that comes from working out, walking, and mountain-climbing, a calmness and sometimes even euphoria that i denote as meditation. Even traditional Buddhist/Hindi seated meditation can result in euphoria. Enlightenment is described as a state of euphoric transcendence.
But, as with traditional Buddhist/Hindi seated meditations, is Enlightenment reached? Do we realize the meaning of life? The essence of the universe? Well, i’m not sure if it’s as profound as that, or rather, i’m not sure if it’s as wide-ranging as all that. Perhaps some people achieve Enlightenment when they run, but for me, when i walk, or climb a mountain, or work out, I have realizations about my personal life, or insights into some problem i’m having, or a project i’m working on, or some sort of scheduling conflict, or an idea for a story, or something to do on my next date with my beloved. Small things, perhaps, but useful and meaningful in my life; what i call slivers of Enlightenment (or perhaps “shivers of Enlightenment” as i sometimes literally do shiver when i get these mini eureka moments).
I remember when i used to do Bikram yoga (a form of hot yoga created by Bikram). In the beginning, i was just struggling to stay in the heat. Then, i was striving to learn the postures (asanas). After i had somewhat mastered the heat and the asanas, i was able to go on auto-pilot and the voice of the instructor would fade into the background, in fact, everything would fade into the background and i was “in the zone”; i was meditating, and i would come up with the most wonderful ideas, or solutions to problems in my tutoring job, or in my Master’s work (by the way, i received the parchment for my Master’s degree today! A piece of paper, but nonetheless, it made me quite proud :)
I began doing Bikram yoga because i was having constant neck and back pains from my job as a computer operator. My sister introduced me to it. She quit, but i stuck it out, because i realized it was actually working to heal my back and neck. I will eventually blog more about Bikram yoga and the changes i made in my lifestyle because i did it for three years and i had some wonderful a-ha moments not just for my personal life, but also philosophical insights based on each asana that i will post up on my blog. The reason i brought it up now was that at the time, i thought that yoga was the only way to have these a-ha moments, you know, since it’s Eastern and esoteric and all, in my mind it was some kind of fount of knowledge, and it is, but i realized that it is not the only fount.
MEDITATION IN ACTION REQUIRES THREE THINGS
Somewhere in my philosophical meanderings, i had also delved into Buddhist meditation and as i mentioned in my Bukhan-san meta-mountain meditation, for Buddhists, meditation can also be in the most mundane of activities, such as cooking and cleaning and running. Thus, as i branched off from yoga to body-building, i approached it with the same concentration, silence, and discipline i had brought to yoga.
CONCENTRATION AND SILENCE
Many people workout with their friends, talking and having a good time. That’s great, but to me, that’s not a workout, not just on a physical level, but on a mental or meditative level. I was seeking the same meditative state that i had achieved in yoga, and to do that i needed to be alone. As well, some people work out with earphones blaring music. I can understand that. It’s actually a way to create silence by blocking out external noise, but for me, i like to also be aware of the people around me. For me, meditation is a balance between inner and outer worlds.
DISCIPLINE! SORRY, BUT IT AIN’T EASY
And finally, discipline. To achieve a level where i could actually meditate during yoga, i had to go faithfully 4 -5 times/week. Only then can you master it enough for it to become automatic. In yogic philosophy, you learn that yoga was actually created to train the body to be still so you could meditate. Many people think it’s the actual physical exercise that counts, probably because they want to lose weight or something. In fact, that’s what i thought since i wanted to de-tox and strengthen and stretch my spine, but as i began to master yoga, i realized that the true value is in the end, the final asana, the rest after the full cycle of asanas.
That was when we “reaped the benefits” as one of our instructors would say. I think he was talking mostly physical benefits and there are those, (and as other bodybuilders and athletes may know, it’s the rest after the exercise when the body is repairing and building that you actually gain the benefits of exercise), but i actually began to look forward to the mental benefits, the eureka’s, the a-ha moments, but in order to achieve that, i had to master the physical aspect, and hence the discipline.
THE PAIN AND THE GLORY OF BODY-MOLDING
In order for body-building – actually, i refer to it as body-molding (i’ve heard it also referred to as body-sculpting and that’s a great term, but a bit pretentious, so i made up my own term “body-molding”) – to become meditative, i had to master the weights and machines, learning how to use them, i had to learn the various exercises and how to do them properly without injuring myself, and i had to move through the initial self-consciousness as you think that everyone is staring at you when in reality they are busy doing their own workout. I also had to get through my initial experiences with pain. Sure, there is always pain, body-molding is about pushing your body to the point of failure so that you feel the burn, you feel the pain (especially the next day OUCH), but in the beginning, the pain, like the heat in hot yoga, is a burden, a distraction. When you get used to it, it subsides into the background. And then, you are free to go into auto-pilot.
Jeongbalsan Outdoor Workout Meditation Video
Jeongbalsan Resting after Workout Meditation Video
And then, working out, or body-molding, or walking, or mountain-climbing, or running, biking, boxing, basketball, football, what have you, becomes a meditation. You are in the zone. Inside and outside are in balance. Thoughts come and thoughts go. In fact, your brain turns off as beta wave function slows down and alpha waves flow out. Slivers of Enlightenment shiver you, but not because you are actually THINKING, but because you are NON-THINKING and thus allowing yourself to become one with the Infinite Creative Force (IFC) that i mentioned in my Bukhan-san post. That is the true fount of wisdom, the source of inspiration, “the zone” twilight or otherwise, the Unus Mundus, the collective unconscious, and yoga or seated lotus meditation doesn’t hold a monopoly on it. It can be achieved by any form of meditation in action. There are numerous paths up the mountain and they all lead to the peak.