Running With Yourself

I love to run. I love the feeling of fatigue, struggling between the realm of comfort and pushing myself, listening to the rustling of leaves, the chirping of the birds, even the short conversations of cyclists passing by. The steps I take become rhythmic while I slowly breathe in and out, my thoughts wandering throughout the present. My body is synced to my every motion as I look forward. When I run, I am one with my mind, my body, and my surroundings. Despite the motion and utilization of energy consistently occurring, this is one of the only times in my life where I feel the most centered. I am a mindful runner. Running is a meditative act for me and many others, and I believe it is a simple transformation many other runners can take on.

We all have routines, things we think and do everyday. Some of our routines serve us well, and some don’t. Something that’s become a big part of my daily routine – one of the...:

What is meditating?

So does meditating mean you need incense, rocks, beads, saying “Ommmm” for minutes at a time? Well, maybe. Traditional meditation can happen in a variety of ways. You can go to a class, utilize youtube videos, or even focus on yourself and just take time to be present for a few breaths, minutes, or hours. Meditation is what you make it, as are the benefits.

Benefits of Meditation

Just Breathe-Ancient Practice of Pranayama can help you detoxify, shed excess weight, and boost overall vitality.:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
  • Increases serotonin production, which improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system
  • Increases the energy level as you gain an inner source of energy
The one type of meditation that I choose to utilize is mindfulness meditation. This meditation allows you to focus on the now, release any feeling of tension or worry, and truly focus on grounding yourself. Almost as if you find your center.

How is this useful to running?

Your runs are what you make them. Even the most intense track workouts can allow for a moment of clarity. Writer Amy Marxkors wrote about a story she made up about a long stretch of farmland on one of her long runs, and it wasn’t until I found myself making up a story about squirrels on an 8 mile trail run where I realized that she was unintentionally practicing a moment of mindfulness. She was not letting the fatigue hinder her thoughts. There was no complaining about being out on a run. We are in motion when we run, as is the world and by utilizing our very senses and connecting with the moment we are in, we are well on our way to a moving meditation as we run with ourselves.

Benefits of Mindfulness (Meditation) | Lynn Hasselberger for Elephant Journal | #infographic #meditation #mindfulness:
As runners, we utilize music, strobe lights, groups, and fight a never-ending battle between cars and cyclists. It is easy to allow our mind to be cluttered with stress and unhelpful thoughts as we put our foot one in front of the other. A good way to start practicing mindful meditation is to eliminate distractions. Maybe start by ditching the music and playing a senses game. One run you focus on all you hear, and, maybe on a later run, you try and point out all of the changing colors on the tree- just being mindful of not cluttering your mind with homework, work stress, and other thoughts that only bring negative emotions.
On a recent trail run, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Two miles in, I stopped on the side of a cliff because I was too jumbled to continue. My legs felt like bricks and I was worried about work, relationships, finances, you name it. As I stood on the cliff, I paused. I listened to the boaters fishing speaking to one another. There voices echoed between the leaves and it felt as though they were only a few feet away. I saw a hawk circling around some trees, and as the boat took off I watched the waves ripple. I felt like I was slowly coming back into my body, and as I breathed, I closed my eyes and rooted myself in the ground. I felt like me again, and in those few moments my run was altered. I ended my 8 mile run on a strong note.
How to be happy now. Things you can do to be happier, thanks to science and the power of positive psychology.:
It is amazing how a few moments can change the outcome of a stressful day. I know this is something that works for me, however, I think every person- runner or non-runner- can benefit from meditating daily. Take time to focus solely on yourself and live for the now. It’s not something that’s only spiritual, but it truly allows you to be able to appreciate the little, and big things in life.
Go The Distance 69:

 

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