Sunday, July 09, 2006

The power of now

I read a great article in this month's Runner's World (unavailable online) on breathing and the focused meditation controlled breaths can offer prior to, during and after running. Today's been a rainy Sunday in KC (perfect for lots of coffee, a nap and catching up on my newest West Wing DVD set). I attempted to run early this morning, but was washed out and headed to the dry sanctuary of church. The afternoon rain kept foiling my plans, until I was forced to say screw it and headed out for my first long run of my Chicago Marathon training schedule. I'm getting to the point.

The rain prohibited me taking my two running partners (the Monk dog and the iPod), so I was left to get soaked alone. Normally I do a lot of thinking and planning on my runs. Recapping the day, planning the next, solving any problems and thinking of ways to thwart oncoming challenges. But my mind was enjoyably clear today as I headed out for 6. So I decided to think about breathing.

The point of the article was to train your mind to be in touch with the "now." Pay attention to the next step, your body, any aches and odd feelings. Don't worry about the next mile or the next day. The breathing would help control pace, energy levels and stamina. So I breathed. Carefully. And I made an effort to block out all past and present. It's hard to do this, as a runner, because the destination is burned permanently in your mind. Stretches of the route also creep into your future planning altering your pace and challenging your guts.

There's a one mile area on my "flat route" from my house to the Plaza, void of a sidewalk. The need to focus on my footing and not slip down the muddied grass broke my concentration on the way out, but back, I was in full control of my breathing. A funny thing happened.

I had run probably a mile and a half in a total focused zone when a passing car, driven by a friend honked incessantly, waking me up. We said "hi" at the stoplight, then I kept going, thinking, "I have no idea how I got here." It was a great feeling - to be that in tune with the now. I also dug my ability to kill almost two miles without really thinking about the process.

I'm now sitting outside of one of the landmarks along today's route, my "Sunday" coffee shop (Hi-Hat's closed Sundays...), and I'm working on a new client's media relations plan. Prior to the planning deck, I was mapping out a new biz approach that will go into play this week. Thinking about my run, and my newfound power of now (laugh here), got me thinking about how much time marketers spend measuring the past and planning for the future. That's a huge part of our job.

But, our clients and their brands make the biggest impact in the now. The points of sale. The minute-by-minute product interactions. The "Blink" when consumers decide between brand a or b. It's our job to give our clients a little focused breathing now and then. Get in touch with the present and focus on how the brand interacts with the now. Maybe if we do that, we'll suddenly be surprised by arriving at our destination without needing a car horn to announce the present's marriage to the future.

Listening to: Keane, Under the Iron Sea


Blogger Jim said...


It constantly amazes me how many others travel separate paths but reach a similar destination. I've been a runner for many years, but about ten years ago, I began using meditation techniques as part of my practice.

I've created a site at, designed to capture some of the techniques that have proved useful to me. And I'm hoping that others will visit and add their experiences. So that more of us can experience the power of now, the present moment.


10:33 PM  

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