This guide first appeared in the Les Others Magazine, Volume 11. Words by Daniel Klinckwort.
I was born not just in any city, but in Mexico City. One of the giants. A crazy place. Massive. The 5th largest city in the world hosting over 21 million people. Beautiful and ugly at the same time. Full of goodness and cultural richness. Incredible food and people. Corruption. Anarchy. Smog. Chaos. Everything.
Getting lost in the urban jungle has always been thrilling to me. I’m drawn to its incredibly rich culture and profound energy. Cities can be effective, attractive and comfortable, but they wear on you after a while. Not just the noise and the crowds, but the disconnection. The lack of nature and humanity. Little space. Little air. Productivity first. Consciousness second. Keep the wheel spinning at all costs.
Day after day, year after year, the way we lead our lives today seemed more and more ridiculous. That’s what led two of my best friends and me to head out to the desert, in search of an escape. A 90-kilometer spiritual run along the coast of the Sonoran Desert, across the land of the Seri Tribe that would alter our perspective on life forever, providing a profound connection to our primitive selves, to the ancient wisdom of the Seri and to nature in its purest form.
From then on, we spent a year looking for real oxygen and real connections, going deep into nature, into ourselves, and connecting to remote communities around the world who, through their practices and traditions, provide a unique perspective that renders modern aspirations and preconceived ideas of happiness and success, useless. This year-long aspiration became a life-long one, and so was born Aire Libre Running, which allows city runners to gain access to the same insights that can alter their life completely.
Between two runs in nature, extending the benefits of running in our urban routine is possible. It’s in meditation that I found a way to take a breath. My meditation journey began with a few unsuccessful experiments, until I stumbled upon Davis Lynch’s book, « Catching the Big Fish ». According to Lynch, ideas are like fish, and if you want to catch the big one, you've got to go deep. That’s how I discovered the power of meditation as a tool to dive inside myself and connect to the source of creation, providing calm, mental clarity and boundless creativity.
Meditation can seem quite elusive and intimidating, especially since there are countless methods and styles. But whether it’s sitting quietly, laying down, scanning your body or walking, each practice serves that one goal: being with and knowing ourselves, in complete self-awareness of our sensations, emotions and thoughts.
Out of all the different techniques, here are the ones I practice. May they help you find your own path to daily balance and peace. It all starts with tuning into your body, your heartbeat, your breath, and letting go.
Mindfulness meditation can be a good first step into meditation as it is deemed to be the simplest form: focus solely on being aware of your body and your surroundings in order to come into the present moment. Mindfulness means not paying attention to all the distracting thoughts or feelings you may have which make you anxious or unaware of what’s going on around you. Relax your body so you can fully perceive your breathing and focus on the rhythm of your breath as you acknowledge the sounds and vibrations you hear and feel. If a thought comes into your mind, don’t worry or judge yourself. Meditation is an exploration, not a fixed destination. Simply acknowledge your thought and let it slip away. With time and practice, emptying your mind will become easier.
We often don’t realize how much our thoughts can affect our nerves and muscles, causing them to tighten for long periods of time and locking us in a state of constant stress. By mentally scanning yourself, you bring awareness to every single part of your body, noticing any kind of sensation, pleasant or not. The Body Scan starts from the place of grounding, the feet, continues upwards through the legs, belly, arms, shoulders and up to the head. One way to acknowledge and relax a specific part is to ‘breathe into it’. While this type of meditation also works to quiet the mind, its purpose is not to relieve tension or pain completely, but to get to know it, learn from it and be able to deal with it.
In Transcendental Meditation, you sit comfortably, close your eyes, and quietly repeat a mantra which is a word or sound that imitates the natural vibrations produced by the source of all creation. The mantra is personal and has been previously assigned to you by a certified guide during an initiation ceremony. In other words, your mantra is your access key to the most profound parts of your being, which is why you must keep it to yourself. The ordinary thinking process becomes transcended, replaced by a state of pure consciousness, in which you’ll find stillness, rest, stability, order and a complete absence of mental boundaries. Transcendental Meditation is usually practiced for 20 minutes, twice a day.
Walking meditation is a simple and universal practice you can enjoy at any time in your daily life. In the same way that mindfulness meditation focuses on the rhythm of your breath, walking meditation centers on the rhythm of your gait. Bring your attention to your body, center yourself, feel the pressure in the soles of your feet and the other natural sensations that come with standing. Let yourself be present and alert. You can enter a trance-like state as you walk, allowing the repetitive motion of every step silence your mind. Where you walk isn’t particularly important, whether it’s in the peace and quiet of nature or in the noise and distractions of the city. Each situation is an opportunity to meditate.