The following is from the April 21, 2014, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Expertise for this story was provided by Ruben L. F. Habito, professor of world religions and spirituality at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.
April 24, 2014
BY LESLIE BARKER
When Aaron Conner runs, he meditates.
That — more than peanut butter sandwiches, more than protein drinks, more than his support crew — is what sustains him through miles and hours of dust and rocks, of blisters and monotony.
“I focus on my legs, my breathing, my body, my feet, my surroundings,” says Conner, 41, who plans to run his second 100-mile race on Saturday. “I try to meditate the entire time as I’m running.”
Meditation takes many forms. Whether moving, being alone or sharing the experience with a group, this age-old practice of quiet contemplation and focus on breathing has been embraced by Oprah, prescribed by doctors and quietly incorporated into countless daily routines. It’s credited with physical, emotional and mental benefits that are scientific as well as anecdotal. . .
“You just feel naturally more balanced and more wholesome and your blood pressure is decreased and you don’t get caught up in anger,” says Ruben L. F. Habito, professor of world religions and spirituality at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.
“You’ll see more of your blessings with a little more inner peace,” says Habito, who asks his students to meditate for the first five minutes of every class. “It’s not just physical health but overall well-being.”
Plus, say those who practice it, meditation just makes life not necessarily easier, but easier to take. . .
Habito elaborates: “If we’re harried or ungrounded or unsure of ourselves, we find ourselves catching our breath. Meditation is truly, in that sense, catching up with our breath, letting ourselves become attuned to the breath. It gives us life. It gives us well-being.”
Breathing helps our minds to be calm, he says, “not to achieve or analyze anything; just be aware.”
That can be done while sitting as well as during the walking meditations he often leads.
“We continue being mindful of every breath and of every step,” says Habito, who also leads students around the Perkins labyrinth that bears his name. After going to its center, “we go back to the world to offer what we’ve received.”
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