Have you ever thought of running as a mindfulness practice?
05 May, 2019 • by Admin
Be fully present where you are: in the woods, on the sidewalk, or on the treadmill.
Ninety percent of people lead very busy lives, with lots of stress and lots of pressure. When they are running, they are thinking about deadlines, meetings, their families. They’re already in a stressed-out state, and then they’re going to enter the even higher stress state of exercise.
By rewiring the mind, and improving our health, mindful running can be a life-transformative experience. It helps us get back in our bodies, let go of stress, get fit, and to heal. More importantly, it gives us the gift of silence, even on a busy street. We have more room to think more clearly, be more compassionate, especially toward ourselves, connect with the earth, and to discover improvement in all areas of our lives.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness. It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques, particularly seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation, it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep, short pauses we insert into everyday life, and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or running.
As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
What is Mindful Running?
Mindful running is a vague term that means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but it really comes down to being present. It’s purely about being mentally connected within your movement and not being distracted. Distraction can come in the form of other people, noise, technology, but it can also come in the form of cultural pressures. You know: ‘How fast do I have to go?’ ‘How far am I supposed to go?’ ‘What is the definition of a runner?’”
It’s important to differentiate between mindfulness and meditation. When we meditate, we're taking ourselves away from everyday life, away from activities, to actually pray in an environment where we can train the mind in mindfulness: how not to be distracted, how not to get caught up in thinking, how not to be put off of feelings of discomfort. Then, when we go out and run, we’re taking whatever we learned in meditation and applying it.
How to Run Mindfully?
To run mindfully, then, you have to shrug off those external distractions and pressures and really listen to your body. The point is to get out of the conversation you’re having with society and back into a one-on-one convo with your body, based on how much sleep you’ve gotten, how much you’ve eaten, how good that nutrition was, and where you’re at mentally.
- Rather than focusing on what’s hurting or how many miles you have left to run, you concentrate on where the body is. You can focus on taking deep breaths, maintaining good running form, or improving your stride turnover.
- Running trail is ideal to practice mindful running, as it's essential to be aware of what you're doing, focus on the terrain, and avoid falling.
- Avoid the distraction of music, you’ll find it much easier to focus and connect with your surroundings and thoughts.
- Practice deep belly breathing before you head out for your run. It will help you relax and focus on getting ready to run.
- Start slowly and pay attention to your body, notice how your breathing rate is changing. Feel your heart beating and the rhythm of your feet.
- Turn your focus to your feelings and thoughts. Are you feeling pleasure for getting a break and some time to yourself?
- Look for things that grab your attention or something you may not have noticed before on your familiar route.
- Concentrate on the sensation of your foot hitting the ground. Hearing the rhythm of your foot strikes can be very relaxing.
- Pay attention to pain or discomfort, think about whether you need to stop or slow down, or whether you should just keep doing what you’re doing.
- Think about how your feelings and thoughts have changed when you finished.
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