Running Meditation – Mindfulness And Movement
Emotions are always a hot topic during heart health month and around Valentine’s Day. They’re not always positive or pleasant, though. Unfulfilled goals and wishes of the past year or high expectations towards the new year can make us feel angry, afraid or sad.
Some people search for calm and quiet and try to meditate to find inner peace again. For me, simple meditation didn’t cut it. When sitting still, I just get more nervous and feel the urge to let off steam – do something. So I head out for a quick run. Think of it as some sort of running meditation. Walking meditation already exists – so why not take it up a notch and do a running meditation?
For me, running is relaxing. It clears my thoughts, I feel better afterwards. That’s why I started to do mindful runs on a regular basis – without checking my pace, without music, and without a whirlwind of thoughts in my head.
“Emotion” originates from the Latin term “emovere”, which means “to move through or out.” For me, mindful running helps me move through or out of certain emotions and stressful situations.
Do you want to try a short running meditation yourself? I have a few tips to help you focus on yourself and move mindfully the next time you head out for a run.
How does a running meditation work?
It’s actually quite easy: Start jogging at a comfortable pace and try to find your rhythm. As soon as you feel at ease, turn your attention towards your feet. Feel every single step. How’s the ground? What do you feel? Then, focus on your breath. Count to 3 while breathing in through your nose, then count to 3 again while breathing out through your mouth (you can adjust that number according to your pace). As soon as your breathing flows naturally and thoughts start popping up in your head, don’t get distracted by them. Just let them pass by. Gently try to focus on your breath and running rhythm again.
You goal is to leave your thoughts behind you with every step. Feel the rhythmic movement of your body, focus on yourself and be present.
It’s best to start with 1 or 2 rounds, then adding an additional round every time you go for a run. If you add a 20-minute meditative, mindful run to your running routine on a regular basis, you’ll soon reap the fruits and notice its positive effects on your everyday life: more serenity & calmness, an increase in self-confidence, lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system are just a few of the benefits.
Where should I practice mindful running?
Definitely outdoors, and if possible surrounded by nature. If that’s not possible, find a place as quiet as possible where you aren’t distracted by traffic or crowds of people. Rounds of 1 to 2 kilometers or miles are an ideal distance, especially when they lead across fields or woods. The rather monotonous scenery allows you to focus on your breath and running, plus you don’t have to think about changing surfaces of your route.
When is the best time for a running meditation?
For me, the ideal time is when I start feeling annoyed or bored and make up excuses for not going out for a run, when I just want to stay on the couch. That’s when destructive thoughts start creeping up – which I should kick out of my head before they can settle. And, therefore, the perfect moment for a running meditation.
However, you should find out yourself what’s the best time for you. Maybe in the morning, when the city awakes and the birds start chirping? Sounds like a good moment to clear one’s thoughts to me. Or maybe after a stressful workday? I’m sure mindful running can help you leave all issues behind.
If you can manage to focus just on yourself and your movements while running, you’re like a Zen Master who runs just for the sake of running…
“How’s a Zen Master different from a Zen student?” A Zen student asked his Master.
“When walking, I walk. When eating, I eat. When sleeping, I sleep.” The Zen Master replied.
“But why? I do that, too.”
“When walking, you think about eating. When eating, you think about sleeping. When you should be sleeping, you think about anything and everything. That’s the difference.”
I hope you’ll have fun trying a running meditation!
Bye for now,
P.S. If you really don’t feel like running but do need to calm your mind – try these easy at-home relaxation techniques.