The research is in, and there's no doubt about it: Running and meditation are really, really good for you.
I'm not just talking about physical benefits, although those are definitely there. Running torches calories and may help you live longer, and meditation can get rid of headaches, and its stress-busting benefits are great for heart health.
As for mental and emotional benefits, both practices fight depression, boost happiness, and improve confidence.
Despite what we may know about running and meditation, actually lacing up your sneakers or sitting on your cushion is a lot easier said than done. Life gets busy, and sometimes the prospect of adding both of these activities to a never-ending to-do list just piles on more stress.
But did you know you can kill two birds with one stone by meditating while you run?
Here's hoping that makes both activities a lot more appealing, because we chatted with three meditation experts, and they had some great advice on how to meditate while you run.
Here are three ways to make it happen:
1. Choose a mantra.
"Running is one of the greatest meditations," meditation guide and natural beauty expert Desiree Pais told mbg. "I believe the repetitive motions can help you create new neural pathways if you choose to run with intention. We know that repetition helps us to create new neural pathways."
"Simply put, neural pathways are highways in which our thoughts run through our mind," she continued. "If we're consistently thinking, 'I'm not good enough,' that pathway becomes a solid road and possibly seems like the only road at the time. If you try to change the thought, it can be challenging at first to stay in the repetition long enough for the new road to build and be sturdy. That's why running is so perfect—because you're in a repetitive motion for 10, 15, 20 or however many minutes you run for. If you choose a mantra like 'I am confident' or 'I am powerful' or 'I have perfect health' and repeat if throughout your whole run, it becomes like an echo in your mind and you'll find yourself repeating it all day long, consciously and subconsciously.
Pick a mantra and repeat it during your run for a week and see what happens. All of your beliefs create your reality. A belief is just a thought that you've repeated to yourself over and over again. Change your thoughts, change your beliefs, one run at a time."
Here are the mantras she suggests:
- "I love and approve of myself completely."
- "I have perfect health."
- "I am confident."
- "Money comes easily to me."
- "I am beautiful."
- "I am prosperous."
- "My body is incredibly strong."
2. Pay close attention to the unique energy running creates.
"While meditating in complete silence is a great way to recharge your mind, body, and soul, it can be beneficial during physical activity as well," spiritual adviser Chandresh Bhardwaj told mbg. "I love taking long walks in the evening. Recently, I added a gentle dose of running to my routine too."
"I bought new track pants, T-shirts, and new Nike sneakers … you know, the usual drill!" he continued. "Running has increased my creativity and brought an all-new level of freshness to my daily routine. I truly believe you can be fully meditative while running, so much so that you can fall into a complete trance. I experience this whenever I go for a run, and you can too."
Here's what he suggests:
- Before you start running, take a moment to feel the energy that’s surrounding you. Feel the breeze gently touch your skin and connect with it consciously.
- Now, take a moment to be aware of the awareness that’s flowing within you.
- Feel this awareness penetrating your chakras and rushing through your body.
- As you start running, say the mantra, “Om Shakti Namaha.” Shakti means higher strength. The mantra simply states that you are in union with the infinite strength that’s available to all of us.
- In addition, repeat this affirmation consciously: “I flow with the flow of universe.”
- The key is to surrender your body and allow it to merge with the energy around you. While the mantra and affirmation will get you started, surrendering to the process is the goal you should aim to achieve.
Find an anchor.
"While running, it's very possible to drop into a meditative flow state," mediation teacher Light Watkins explained to mbg. "Experienced runners have no doubt cultivated this state purely from experience. Newer runners may find that their mind is a little more scattered, and becomes overly concerned about the time or the pace."
"One way to overcome an unfocused mind while running is to tune in to the breath as an anchor," he added. "Meaning, become more aware of your breathing pattern. For instance, breathe in for two paces, and breathe out for two. Keep this up as much as if feels comfortable, and you'll eventually get into a timeless zone. It's also helpful to pick a spot off in the distance as an anchor point for your vision. Looking around or down can lead to an unfocused mind, where as glancing straight ahead increases your chances of losing yourself in the experience."
What are you waiting for? Lace up those sneakers, hit the pavement, and start meditating. You've got this.