We know that running can be meditative, but how to do you really make running into moving meditation? Find out on today’s Running Coaches Corner, and join the link up!
Running can be polarizing: some people love it, others hate it. Of course, there are a number of people that are right in the middle, and there are a number of people who love it during but hate it after and hate it during but love it after.
Regardless…. if you run, you are running for a reason, and if you are running, you might as well make it work for you in the best way possible. One way that you can do that is to learn, if not to enjoy running, to figure out how to incur mental benefits as well as the physical benefits that you are after via turning running into a moving meditation.
When we think of meditation, most likely we picture someone sitting quietly, Buddha-like, in a cross legged position with their hands on their knees and their eyes closed. The next idea might be of someone in savasana, lying on the floor. The common denominator in both of these scenarios is that the person is still, eyes are closed, breathing is slow and measured, and they are in super comfy clothes (and likely shoeless).
But is stillness the only way to achieve a meditative state? If meditation can be achieved while moving, can running be a means of moving meditation? How can you turn running into moving meditation? No, yes, and I will tell you.
Running as Moving Meditation
The principles that allow running to be a moving meditation are the same as those principles that apply to sitting meditation:
- Calming, repetitive motion (think of how you can fall into a trance stirring a pot)
- As you train your brain, you will relax into and not interfere with the movement, allowing you to fall deeper into a meditative state
- Focus on breath (concentration meditation) or allowing for free movement and evolution of thoughts (mindfulness meditation) are both possible, depending on what you are trying to achieve (a deeper state of focus or greater awareness of your own thought patterns)
- It can be very difficult to really achieve the meditative state at first, but with practice, you can go for longer and longer periods of successful moving meditation
- Benefits include: (Yoga Journal has some great articles on this!)
- Greater ability to concentrate, particularly in stressful situations
- Regulation of breathing, especially under duress
- Identification of patterns of thoughts + increase and improvement of memory and ideation
How to turn Running Into Moving Meditation
Over time, you might be able to successfully run and meditate simultaneously regardless of what you are wearing, where you are, or what is going on around you, but when you start working on turning running into moving meditation, set yourself up for success.
- Dress as comfortably as possible. You should always wear proper fitting clothing, but if you are trying to turn running into meditation, having comfortable, supportive clothing is paramount so that you are focusing on your meditation rather than itchy or chafing clothing.
- Pick a peaceful trail and a quieter time of day. Don’t run down Madison Avenue at rush hour. For me, it is the Lakefront Trail (whether near the lake or not) at Sunrise. That is my meditative time.
- Run without headphones until you are really proficient, or pick music that is wordless. If you are new to doing this, break in your running-sans-headphones like you would new shoes–don’t start with your longest run!
- Now, this isn’t to say that I haven’t achieved a meditative state with headphones in. I find music to be the most conducive to achieving moving meditation as opposed to podcasts, but I have gotten to the point that I can sort of zone out with a podcast (depending on who/what it is). I will literally get home and realize that I have no idea what they have said.
- I’m big on safety, so I support bringing your phone with you on your run. HOWEVER, turn the alerts off that sucker (put it on Do Not Disturb or set it to silent, not vibrate), and turn off that dang Bluetooth watch. Your adoring public can wait 15 minutes or for a different run to interrupt.
- If you have a watch or Garmin, turn it so you can’t see the face.
- Don’t plan a moving meditation session for a hard workout day. Yes, you might have a moment where you are out of your body during that type of run, but it isn’t the best for going into a truly meditative state!
How to Achieve Moving Meditation through Running?
- Follow the above steps.
- Start out with a few minutes of walking to help prep your brain and transition from everything going on previously to knowing that it is time to run (this will also warm up your body)
- Start running at an easy pace. Focus on your breath or your feet for a bit–when you start running, your breath and heart rate might spike, but after a few minutes, especially as you focus on cadence of your breath and also of your feet, both breath and heart rate should settle down.
- Continue to focus on your breath or your feet. Make the in and out, the footfalls, as consistent as possible. Relax your face, your hands, your shoulders. Swing your arms naturally. Repeat.
- If you have a peaceful horizon point, try that for a new point of focus!
- Option to listen for the sounds around you, if the environment is quiet and peaceful. If there is commotion or lots of background noise, focus on your feet or breath.
- The objective is to get to the point that you aren’t thinking about when you are coming back. You are unlikely to get to a full trance-like state, but you will get to a point where you can clear and quiet your mind.
As with any meditation, moving meditation takes practice and consistent practice. This isn’t for every single run! Practice seated meditation as well–even just a few minutes a day. Think of it as your supplemental training! That will facilitate the success of your moving meditation practice.Zen meets zoom: how to make #running into moving meditation! #coachescorner #run Click To Tweet
I hope that you take an easy/recovery run this week and try out some moving meditation! Let me know how it goes!
Now, it is time for Running Coaches Corner!
I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday.