Running has gained tremendous popularity as a means of getting away from it all and re-connecting with your body and surroundings, while getting fit and sweating out the pressure of the daily life. On the other hand, meditation has also gained a huge foothold, as people turn inward to try and calm their racing minds, regain control, and let go of an overwhelming flood of thoughts.
Yet, a lot of people find the idea of meditation and running, i.e. not thinking about anything at all, nor playing anything, both boring and terrifyingly difficult, as we are rarely skilled enough to truly let go of it all. No matter how much we run, we struggle to rest our mind. Likewise, while meditation sounds great on paper, it is incredibly challenging to get the body and mind to cooperate.
Combining the two is actually an ideal place for those people to give it a try, because it is a ring-fenced time period, where you cannot be disturbed. Instead of trying to distract yourself with music, a running club, or a friend, try to disconnect for that set time and solely focus on yourself.
Being mindful on your run, offers a sense of enlightenment and can bring more presence, peace and fitness to your activity. Being more connected to movement can help reduce anxiety, depression, stress and pain. More importantly, it gives you the gift of silence, time to rest our mind and focus on the now, even during our busy day-to-day life.
Give it a try by using the three tips below:
1 Run in sync with your breath
The breath brings in energy and is our metronome and guide. Moving breath-centered, we reconnect with our bodies, moving more efficiently and relaxed. Inhaling deep brings in more oxygen, calms our nervous system and reduces muscle tension.
How to begin? Start walking or slowly running in sync with your breath. For instance, inhale, step, step, step, exhale, step, step, step. Next, always breathe through your nose down to your diaphragm. Rapid mouth breathing triggers an inflammatory fight or flight response, while nasal belly-breathing does the reverse, slowing the heart while soothing and healing the body.
2 Watch your stride
Most runners fight their bodies, pounding along, and struggling to breathe. Yet the body gives us clues to move better. Once we gain awareness, we quickly lose the huffing and puffing, and pounding along.
How to begin? First, watch and listen to your footsteps, working to shorten and silence your stride. This means less bouncing, wasted effort and potential joint damage. Second, keep your arms up and high, never swinging side-to-side. The higher your arms, the quieter you land, the less you swing sideways, the less torque on knees, hips, and back. The taller you run, the lighter, with less stress on your shoulders, back and knees.
3 Practice Ten Count
When you are focused on body and breath, there is little room left for others thoughts, instead you focus 100% attention on the task while running firmly in the now rewiring you for greater concentration, awareness, and creativity throughout the day.
How to begin? The simplest way is the Ten Count. Begin with 5 minutes of walking or jogging. Simply count ten inhalations and exhalations, and then repeat. If a stray thought comes up, drop it the thought, then go right back into your count.