The Third Eye

The Unorthodox Runner

5th Sept, 10 amWithin minutes of meeting him, I discovered we had a lot in common.  I had just turned 50; he was a year younger.  Both were alumni of the USA: single masters for me against his triple masters. I loved making presentations; he got paid for them.  I was into fitness; he was Mr. Fitness.  I ran my own business; he ran a business as well as marathons.  I wrote blogs, he wrote blogs and was the author of The Economic Times Bestseller Dare to Run.  Similar traits, of course the weighing scale tilted heavily in his favor.  A reason to be envious.  But I wasn’t.  Over time I have realized the ones who invoke envy are the ones to learn from. When you are interacting with the International Brand Ambassador of Comrades Marathon (dubbed as the Ultimate Human Race), it is a wonderful opportunity to evolve.  I had questions.  What goes on in the mind of a middle-ager when running an 89 km marathon through the treacherous mountains of South Africa?  Is his mind made up differently than regular mortals?  Is it all in the mind?   Before I could ask, it was time for his presentation. I escorted him to the royal banquet hall of Hyderabad’s Falaknuma palace

amit sheth
Amit Sheth

Amit Sheth was not our first choice. Not that his credentials were unimpressive. Just that our expectations were a notch higher. Our annual leadership retreats are known for their glittery speakers. The alternatives enjoyed a brand edge, Rahul Bose and Chetan Bhagat. But my wife, Ritu, strongly recommended Amit as she had attended his session before. Plus we felt adventurous, so Amit got lucky. The 90-minute rendezvous proved otherwise. The adventurous one was on the stage, the lucky ones in the audience.

I was expecting a sportsman-writer-motivator combo visionary. Instead, Amit turned out to be a conversationalist, one who could connect easily with the audience. As he rambled off on light humorous notes, I began to wonder what exactly was so extraordinary about his story? Where was the aura of dazzling accomplishments that standard motivators exhibit? Sure, he had run a zillion marathons across the planet. But he hadn’t won any. In his words ‘I usually cross champions on their return leg of the marathon happy’. And he had no hang-ups. According to him, the conquest didn’t reside at the finishing line. Instead the moment of triumph came from rubbing shoulders with the champions at the start line! He unveiled a brand new perspective of looking at winners… The ones who have the courage to stand at the starting line of success

The above viewpoint got more intriguing when I marveled the starting-line aspirant was a 38 year old who had never pursued physical fitness before. It was not an unfulfilled childhood passion that provoked Amit to take up marathons. You see, he didn’t put on his running shoes because he wanted to do something. Rather he put them on because he didn’t want to do nothing. So he “invented” his goal. And in the process he was redefining the way our world stereotypes the ingredients of success. We are in the habit of anticipating steadfast goals in the eyes of tomorrow’s achievers. But often the victors are not the ones with unwavering ambitions, rather the ones who are tired of living a life of boring desperation and choose to do something about it!

I was bemused by Amit’s refreshing take. Except for one glaring gap in his approach. Let’s face it, where is the excitement in running? What can be more boring than running up and down the ghats of Lonavala from midnight to the wee morning hours? Amit undertook this rigorous ordeal for months in preparation of big races. I couldn’t even imagine what that must feel like. What was the point? Torturing your body. Breaking your mind. All thoughts must be in random disarray as one gasped for air. Perhaps, every second breath must be spent in convincing self that the race will eventually get over, that it’s all in the mind!

Meanwhile, the presentation got over. But my mind marathon was still on. I hadn’t completed my diagnosis. We had entered the Q&A part of the session. I wanted others to take a shot. So I refrained from popping my question. Fortunately someone else did – ‘Is it all in the mind?’ Amit’s answer was a masterpiece, the gist recreated from my memory below…

“There is no such thing as it’s all in the mind! All minds operate along a similar vein. The difference doesn’t lie in who can condition it more efficiently. Even the mind of a marathon champion refuses to cooperate when exhaustion kicks in. Any attempt to ‘tame’ our mind is futile. The trick lies in learning to ‘ignore’ it. And how does a marathon runner do that? By pushing self during each practice session; by forcefully exposing himself to the patterns of the mind. Result, when the moment of reckoning comes during a competitive race, the runner is not in a strange place. He is able to ignore the whining of the mind. He is able to overcome the revolt of the body. Often, the runner becomes thoughtless. In those moments, he is the master of his mind and body.”

There was a thundering applause from the audience. But I was clapless. Amit had just attempted an unasked question. He had boldly gone where a rare few have gone before. For centuries, the learned ones have been advocating the power of meditation to discover self. Try imagining a seeker, and a picture of a hermit meditating amidst the tranquility of the Himalayas flashes past. ‘Relax your body and mind’ is the mantra that traditionally defines the path to enlightenment. Amit is doing the opposite. He is pursuing the identical path, but from reverse … seeking the truth by ‘pushing his body and mind’. His path allows him moments of disassociation from his body and mind; it allows him to watch his worldly self from a third eye; it allows him to discover his true identity. His discovery is precious. It helps him evolve. It has surely helped me evolve. It’s an approach that would help any pursuer evolve, personally as well as professionally…



Discover, Original, Purpose, Style

12 Comments

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  1. Great summary of Amit’s presentation. Truly, he is the master of his mind and body. I was fortunate to be there, amongst Cybage’s great leaders, at royal banquet hall of Hyderabad’s Falaknuma palace and attend Amit’s quite inspiring presentation. I also had a candid chat with him on the way to airport. I am reading through his autographed book, ‘Dare to Run’ and re-started my morning run…and this time few KMs more…out of our hosing society boundary.

  2. I could find the correlation between the science of success and the third eye easier now to interpret.

    “The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear.”
    -Daniel Defoe

  3. Kudos to Amit … who lives his life by his intellect… totally governing the mind and body!

  4. This reminds me, how I finally dived the first time in a swimming pool from a high board (ten feet). I used to stand at the corner of the diving board gazing at the water from the top. Then after some time come back by climbing down the ladders. I repeated the same many times.

    Until finally, I refused to listen to my mind and ran from one corner to the end of the diving board and finally plunged…

  5. Loved the title “The Third Eye”.
    Truly an inspiring story of Mr. Amit Sheth and no doubt being the first from our nation to complete an ultra marathon is an incredible feat.

    Coincidentally I too started running because even I didn’t want to do nothing.
    Till now Running has taught me more about self-discipline, increased my focus level and makes me wake up early in the morning 🙂

    I absolutely agree with the point “There is no such thing as it’s all in the mind!”
    The trick definitely lies in learning to ‘ignore’ it slowly and steadily.

    It would be six months that I myself started running after joining our very own “Runfordun” club and will be attempting my first Half Marathon next month in PRBM.

    Loved the article and got to learn a lot from it.

  6. Absolutely funtastice people – writer of the blog, and the person wrote about. I know Amit Sheth. And always am amazed by his gift of gab – so to say. So ease and lucidity – and strikes chord with everyone. Truly outstanding people Both Mr Arun Nathani and Mr Amit Sheth

  7. A nice write up about Amit Sheth. Certainly he is one of Prides of India!!! All the best Arun Sir!

  8. Dear Arun. People who are inherently Wise get far more out of everything than ordinary people. You took more out of my talk than I probably meant. I’m delighted that you took so much time to share your insights and thank you for the generous words of praise. I’m truly delighted for having this written about my talk. Been a real pleasure !!! Thanks.

  9. Dear Amit, the honor was all and all ours. And I have many more questions! Ritu and I are looking forward to our dinner with Neepa and you :-). Meanwhile here is wishing you all the miles you have wished for yourself. Thanks again,

  10. As usual thought provoking article!Amit’s way can be called as Meditation in motion where for a change the body is in motion instead of being stationary however the internal process that happens in meditation like observation of body and disassociation from body being same only to discover that one is beyond the body!

  11. He is definitely a masterpiece and an amazing inspiration. His book “Dare to Run” is one of the reasons I started experimenting with running which is still ON. More power to Amit ! I am glad I know him 🙂 Cheers

  12. I can relate “Meditation in Motion” when I attempted experimental solo walkathon for 3 hours covering almost 20-21kms in Pune. It was very thought provoking and learning experience as a pedestrian. Looking forward for more such experimental walks. Cheers!

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