Exercise is my most important daily touchstone. Without moving, stretching, challenging and invigorating my physical being on a regular basis I quickly sense my spirit stagnating, negative thoughts try to invade and I am disconnected from my true essence, from the sacred. Often I like to exercise alone, as it’s my time to recharge, daydream, or let go of something troubling. When immersed in physical activity I reach a meditative zone – where everything suddenly shifts into perspective, the chatter of thoughts, worries and apprehensions fade away. More than just a “runner’s high”, I find a sense of both cosmic and earthly unity as my muscles, heart, and lungs find their rhythm.
Today was a gorgeous late autumn day and I took full advantage by biking out to Cathedral Park to see a community garden plot I may be leasing. Not knowing where exactly the garden was, I set out for an adventure along Willamette Boulevard, which winds along a great ridge on the west bank of the Willamette River. The view was glorious – evergreen blanketed hills to the west, lovely historic homes to my right, and behind me snowy Mt. Hood, resplendent without the usual cloud cover. As I pedaled I noticed the sky, filled with sunlight filtered down to me through gauzy clouds and a lacy curtain of brilliant red and yellow leaves still clinging haphazardly to gnarled branches. I also noticed I’d been smiling ever since my ride began.
When I arrived at the majestic St. John’s Bridge I knew I was close to my destination. The garden plot was sure to be down the steep hill leading to the water and Cathedral Park. I rode through the park, down toward the river, still not finding the garden. I now faced a steep hill to climb. Empowered and exhilarated from the ride out here and the beauty of my surroundings, I trusted my body to get me up the hill. And not only were my muscles focused solely on climbing the hill, my mind was laser-focused as well. Lingering frustration from a phone call this morning, doubts about making it up the hill, the never-ending To-Do list evaporated, and there to my right, down a quiet street was the garden.