Monday, September 9, 2013

Chasing the Garuda

by Matt Gray

We planned a morning circuit of our favorite alpine meadows, hoping to check in on the ferns up there now growing shoulder high, and possibly track down an elusive Lemon Lily or two. But as we arrive at the Humber Park trail head, I catch Daniel looking up at Tahquitz Rock. I glance in the back to see if he snuck in the climbing gear . . . there's nothing there that will drastically alter our day, yet I know from his half smile that he suddenly has another idea.

"I've never gone up the North Gully in the summer," he finally confesses/mentions/proposes. The North Gully begins as a climber's trail and then diverts through a series of rock bands, chinqapuin fields, and steep, crumbly shoots until reaching Tahquitz Peak, some 2500 vertical feet above. 

If you haven't figured it out yet, I worry, a lot.  So I begin thinking of all the hazards: rock fall and rock slides, timber rattlers kin to last summer's encounter, running out of air chasing my brother up another unknown adventure.  Fortunately, I will follow Daniel just about anywhere, pending a terribly clairvoyant intuition. And having just finished the section on the Garuda Practice of Shambala Warriors in "Running with the Mind of Meditation," I'm game for the challenge.

"Are we planning on running it?" I ask in agreement of the diverted plans.  He smiles again and takes off at a brisk walk.

The Garuda is a mythic, playful, courageous bird-like animal in Tibetan Buddhist lore.  Its application is all about challenge: being audacious, overcoming tough obstacles, pushing yourself beyond, and testing your limits when your awareness of self (the Tiger) and the world around you (the Lion) are keen, in-shape, and ready for the mediated risks ahead.

While the Garuda dances and flies through another world, applying its natural tendencies to meditation and running practices will surely land you in some outrageous places. High on the North Gully, I'm scrambling over granite features, admiring delicate flowers growing from precarious cracks and gaps, and breathing deep, calming my racing pulse as I look out at the beautiful landscape beneath us, above us, and all around us.

Today, the Garuda will take us through these uncharted cross-crounty territories, to the panoramic vista of Southern California from the summit, and down into the very meadows that had originally motivated this run. But everything will feel more alive, more crisp, more vibrant. The Garuda's power helps us break through to new levels of physical strength and mental understanding, and simultaneously grounds us in the subtle beauty that we often miss on our day-to-day routine.  The Garuda revitalizes and awakens, inspires and uplifts, shows off the strength of Tahquitz and reveals the quiet poetry of the Lemon Lily.

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