Looking for an activity that will help you be present and lead to more serenity in your life? Many experts will point you to a yoga studio and call it a day, but mat-based workouts and seated breathing sessions aren’t the only pathways to a state of bliss.
Believe it or not, you can meditate on the move. In fact, the rhythm and discipline of running offers an ideal space for your mind to fully connect with your body. Lace up your sneakers and see for yourself!
Step 1. Start small
If you’re new to running or to meditation, don’t expect to run a marathon or attain enlightenment your first time out. Pick an obstacle-free route with little traffic, take off at an easy pace (you should be able to hold a conversation), and plan to meditate for no more than five minutes. You can build up from there as your mental and physical endurance improves.
Step 2. Set your gaze
Hold your head up in a relaxed position and allow your eyes to settle on the path about three to four paces ahead of you. You’ll be able to see what’s in front of you (no tripping!) without being distracted by all the sights.
Step 3. Focus on your breath
Match your footfalls to the tempo of your breathing, aim for three steps with each inhale and two for each exhale. As you get the rhythm, notice the space between inhaling and exhaling. Train your mind to go to that space, where time seems to stand still for a moment.
Step 4. Let thoughts float by
Concentrate on your breathing and empty your mind, allowing any nagging thoughts to pass through without turning your attention to them. Don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders to deadlines at work or if you find yourself noticing a cute pair of shorts on the path ahead. Like seated meditation, running mediation takes practice to master. Be gentle with yourself, refocus on your breath, and try again.
Step 5. Finish with a smile
Congratulate yourself for setting the intention to improve your health and wellbeing. No matter how far you run or how long you are able to stay in a meditative space, simply trying is an accomplishment.
To learn more about meditating on the run, check out Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham.