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Non-Dual State During Exercise (Meditation Journal Entry)

[Post updated 14 April 2024]

I probably said before, I have recently been inspired to start looking at the Non-Dual (ND) State more lately. I have been doing some experiments with it to try to suss out its qualities. I have done very little with it in this way, and it’s odd to me now looking back on 17 years in this state and not giving it much attention.

It’s fascinating to have it. I love it. Don’t get me wrong.

I just took it for granted after a while.

To be more honest, I was afraid of entering the state too much because I thought I might be dragged into some Buddhist Nibbana State or something.

I’m not joking. I fear somehow triggering a permanent state in which I can’t be me. I enjoy life by and large and to be permanently in an egoless state would be a horrible thing to me – not a gift.

I mean, it would be an amazing state to be in if that’s what I was looking for.

But, I already have it. I have it when I want it for the past 17 years. I have it every time I’m quiet.

I don’t want it all the time because I love spending time with my kids. I love exercising. I love making websites. I love writing. I love seeing and talking to friends.

Vern clowning around with daughter to avoid Nibbana.
Joking around with my youngest. © Vern Lovic

If I had the ND State full-time, there’d be next to none of that. It’s literally like the perfect pacifying state. The desire to DO things is severely muted. Even non-existent. If I didn’t have ‘Vern’ to push the body around to do stuff, I’m not sure much would get done at all in a full-time ND State.

Here is a monk kuti in the cave near our home. This is where some monks live, in these tiny bare basic homes. I don’t want this. Ha!

Monk kuti built into cave at Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Seua) in Krabi, Thailand.
Maybe when I’m 85, I’ll consider this. Probably not!

The Experiment – Hard Exercise in the Non-Dual State

I did a short experiment today as I climbed the hill near our home here in Krabi, Thailand as I do most days. I’ve not entered the Non-Dual State on purpose for such a long time during exercise before.

I do remember climbing and coming down the large staircase on an adjacent hill in a solid non-dual state, but that was years ago.

I wanted to see what happened today as I did it. Today’s exercise was a test to see how my left knee felt. I injured it about 11 weeks ago and I’ve been gradually building up to a pain-free climb up this hill at a fast rate, including some jogging.

I started out with a very light jog from the bottom. It goes horizontal for a while then straight up. Well, it seems like that. It’s probably a 40 degree angle. I walked the steep section at a moderate pace so as not to stress the knee yet.

At the top of that hill it felt good so I kept jogging. Like old-man-slow jogging. I was really careful.

As I came to a descent, I got the idea to try the rest of the run/walk up the hill in the Non-Dual State.

I dropped into it and plodded on. The 3.7km climb is kind of grueling on a usual day. I often time-trial it to see if I can get a good time. Today I was going semi-fast and breathing hard for all of the climb.

What I Noticed Exercising in the Non-Dual State

In the ND State, there is no pain.

There is no forward looking (into the future – the next few seconds or at the duration of the climb).

When looking up the hill as Vern, with the ego, there is this anticipation of continued pain. Pain in the legs, the pain of breathing so hard that I’m on the edge of going anaerobic and would have to slow down.

There is no fighting the body.

When pushing up the hill during certain hills I ran, there were no mind games. Typically part of the mind is saying, go hard, crank this out! Another part is saying, moderation bro, take it smooth, easy, and light like Caballo Blanco.

There is none of that in the Non-Dual State. There can be extreme effort and the body adapts by breathing harder and churning out more lactic acid and yet the mind isn’t fighting the body to keep it going at that rate.

It just goes.

Nothing is named.

Because the pain points are not named, there is no pain.

The steepness of the hill as it increases is often cause for anticipation to present itself when Vern is running. The jarring of the steep downhills is another cause of discomfort and anticipation. The rate of breathing is a stressor. The buildup of the lactic acid burning in my thighs can reach levels where I feel some fear that I might need to ease off the throttle a bit.

None of that is present. The physical feelings are there. The fast breath. The burning in the thighs. The heat (it is usually around 91-95°F in March-May) can cause a lot of discomfort. The amount of sweat running into my eyes and hanging from my elbows is a kind of barometer to let me know how much I’m suffering as Vern. Without Vern in the ND State there was awareness of the tickle of sweat, the burning of it in my eyes.

None of it was negative though.

None of it was positive either.

Not even this.

View of limestone karst formations and other hills in Krabi, Thailand from The Hill where Vern exercises.
I took this photo on the way down the hill one day. The view is different every day.

If not for the couple of times I snapped out of the state during the climb, it would have been an effortless climb.

That would have been a first.

I was very surprised at how little I suffered mentally. What was felt was only during those brief periods of snapping out of it because of stepping on a rock one time, moving out of the way for a car to pass me, and questioning why the guy on the motorbike passed me twice and looked back at me two times.

I hate to be so dramatic, but I have to update this post for runners, walkers, climbers, and anyone else who exercises to a hard degree and tries to do it in a non-dual state.

The day after I climbed the hill in the non-dual state I was sitting down in my chair in my office and felt a twinge in my L sacroiliac joint – lower back. As it turns out, the last 8 days I’ve been laying in bed with severe pain from it.

It didn’t really hit me at first, WHY this happened. I didn’t associate it with the non-dual state climbing I did because as i said, it was not taxing on the mind or body it seemed. I was really looking forward to exercising a LOT MORE in that state.

Then I got a reminder on Facebook that 8 years ago today I was on my 13th day in bed from my first sacroiliac joint issue. Same side.

I believe there IS a connection.

The first injury was due to having a conflict with someone on the trail I was running down. This is a steep and treacherous trail with lots of leaps and little hops and jumps to get down steep sections. Well, after the conflict, I went into the Non-Dual State so I could reset and not think badly about the situation any more.

I made it to the bottom and rode the motorbike home. When I got off the motorbike, my back was locked up. The SI joint hurt a LOT. I was in bed over 2 weeks and was lucky a chiropractor I know was in town to help me out with some stretches and exercises.

WHY Does Exercise Hurt the Sacroiliac Joint in the Non-Dual State?

As I said, the effort does not feel extreme. I went fairly fast on this latest hill climb but the effort expended was much different. The difference was, the muscles that were not sensed as ‘needed’ by the subconscious were not tensed up as they usually were. My core muscles primarily.

Since they did not tense, my SI joint was exposed to much more jarring, shock, and movement.

This caused the problem.

So, I CANNOT recommend hard exercise in the Non Dual State.

To be honest, I’m a little (very) skittish about even trying it again with a focus on the core muscles being tight and trying to feel the same tenseness in the core and back that I usually feel as I go up the hill in the Vern State, or Ego-filled State.

Too scary to have this happen again. It’s not fun to lay in bed for a week or two at a time!

The Next Non-Dual Experiment

I’ll have to do another kind of exercise to do in the ND State.

When the pain isn’t named, it isn’t felt as pain. It is just an experience that isn’t negative at all.

This state is so bizarre/amazing/impossible to explain.

If you’re having extended time periods in the ND State, do let me know. I’ll enable comments below.

Cheers, and best,


Here is a lot more on the Non-Dual State of Mind >

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