Is Running Moving Meditation?
What is meditation and can you meditate when you are running?
According to Headspace, meditation is,
“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”
According to the Buddhist Centre meditation is,
“a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.”
When I run alone I often consider it to be moving meditation (that along with other sports such as rowing, cycling, cross country skiing). There is something about moving in a way that requires repetitive movement that brings about similar feelings to that of meditating. Your heart beats in your chest in rhythmic time and your breath becomes regular. Your mind clears. This can be a good time to focus your thinking on one thought in particular. As you move you can synchronize your breathing with your thinking and get your thinking focused. As you move and the miles begin to add on you almost forget that you are moving forward. I find this sensation often when I trail run as my focus becomes fixed on each foot-strike, the terrain ahead of me, and the green around me.
What is moving meditation?
According to Yogapedia, Moving Meditation is,
“a meditative state – a shift of consciousness – while doing simple movements. It is a way of calming the mind and creating awareness. Meditation is typically associated with stillness, lying or sitting in a comfortable posture with the focus on the breath. Yet, movement can also provide a path to contemplation.”
What makes running a moving meditation?
- Focus-When you run you can choose a focus prior to getting started and use the time on your run to think about your focus. Your focus can be on your breathing, your foot-strikes or perhaps on deeper thoughts that you want to work through.
- Relaxation-As you settle into the rhythm of running (probably not when doing an interval workout) your body and mind can move into a state of relaxation.
- Patterned breathing-Patterned breathing can help you to maintain your focus and draw you back in when you begin to lose your focus.
- Awareness-Your awareness is focused on your surroundings and the sounds as you run.
I find that running becomes a moving meditation on longer steady pace type of runs. Moving meditation is not likely to happen during hard workouts such as interval runs or on hill repeats. I often find the feeling of moving meditation when I run alone with no music on a trail run. Types of traditional moving meditation are Qigong and Tai Chi which both use rhythmic movement to get into a meditative state of focus.
When you run it is important to keep bringing your awareness back to your breath and to the repetitive movement. Practice relaxing the different parts of your body with each breath and each movement. Use the endorphin boost to your advantage. This rush of energy can be used to focus your steps and your movements. Be aware of the different parts of you that are in discomfort and try to relax and release with each breath and each step. To help your focus practice counting your strides or count each breath. Notice the patterns in your breathing and in your foot-strikes.
Do you find running to be a moving meditation?