I get such a high while exercising that I can’t imagine why I haven’t done this more often in life.
I’ve been running on a treadmill for 20 to 25 minutes four and five times a week and discovered a lightness manifesting throughout my body, particularly in my head, as I pass a point where tiredness ends and a routine kicks in. Energy is created almost out of nothing. Winter’s blahs and accompanying depression disappear and I feel renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated.
But I couldn’t have done this by myself. My physical therapist at a veterans’ hospital encouraged me to exercise after complaining of back, hip and groin pains. Heather, the therapist, placed me on an exercise bike and off I went, pedaling away, pushing myself to a cardio uplift. Unfortunately, I failed to adjust the bicycle seat, and by the second outing on the bike, I ripped my hind parts. Yeah, I tore something at the top of my butt, ending whatever chances I had for the road to recovery by the bike method.
That’s when I switched to the treadmill. And I started saying a mantra to get me through one step at a time.
The mantra is actually taken from the Catholic Mass. It was the only Greek used in the service when priests used Latin. It’s called the Kyrie Elieson, “Lord have mercy!” and the Christe Elieson for “Christ have mercy!” (See Description)
Now I don’t really pray. I don’t visualize Christ or even think of what I am saying. I use the cadence of the words to help me forget each step I take on the treadmill. I vary the speed. I start with a quick version, with each chant taking no more than two or three seconds. I speak a syllable of each word as my right foot strikes the treadmill, corresponding with what I imagine a “two-step” beat would sound like.
I slow it down to four counts per beat, or four steps per syllable. Then I take it a step further, trying to stretch out the number of steps between words to 16, 20 or even 24. I feel a certain flow start to develop. I focus on the beat, and soon begin to feel the “Lord” and“Christ” in each step, in each feel of the handle I’m holding, and in each heartbeat.
Sweat begins to develop at the crown of my head. Beads form on my forehead, slowly dripping down my face. Sweat then arises near my sideburns, the front of the sideburns. I am now multitasking with my focus, aware of the prayer that is not a prayer as well as the sweat that is really a sweat.
Soon, I feel the sweat from the back of my head at the base of my hair. It feels good! I feel I have somehow arrived at a point in the exercise where I pushed myself enough to literally “work up a sweat.”
It is then that this lightness of being manifests itself. I imagine endorphins hatching someone inside, making a beeline straight through my lungs and into my head, clearing whatever obstructions blocked my “well-being” on their way.
I am alive! I am energized! I am cleaner and purer and . . . higher than I had been just a short 20 to 25 minutes earlier. And thanks to the mantra, I’ve not noticed the time go by. I open my eyes, look at how long I’ve been at this, and get an extra “rush” as I see that 22 or 23 minutes have gone by. It is time now to cool off, turn down the speed, and slowly walk to the finish line feeling like a brand new man in a brand new world.