You probably know the feeling. It’s race day and it’s hot. Not as hot as it could have been this late into the summer, but hot enough that you feel sticky and gross the second you step into the sunlight, and almost the entire length of the race is in wide-open sun.
You’re in the final few miles of your run, and you’re starting to fade, huffing and puffing and looking for relief. Luckily, there up ahead some hundred meters or so is the watering station.
You’re relieved. But just as you pick up the cup from that friendly race volunteer you realize why G-d invented the closed cap water bottle and the sippy cup. Sure you might manage to get a few drops down into your parched, gaping gullet, but most of it likely never touches your lips, deciding instead to do its own 100-meter sprint from cup to the area between your chin and chest.
You press on, you finish, but yea, you will always remember: it’s near impossible to run with a full cup of water.
Likewise, it’s hard to learn anything when our minds are like a full cup: full of our own ideas will no space for anything else.
If the idea of living with an empty cup causes you to think “how very buddhist of you,” then you’re right. I first learned of this concept from the book Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio Sudo, which looks at guitar technique and style from the perspective of the Zen Buddhists.
Not only has this lesson been beneficial to me as a musician, but, as you might expect, it’s also been helpful when applied to other aspects of life, including how I’ve gone about keeping up my running regimen since last week’s race. Continue reading The Benefits of Running With– and Living Like– an Empty Cup