“There is a direct correlation between physical exertion and mental relief.” ― Sakyong Mipham
I started running late in life. I was a gymnast in my teens and spent my 20ies doing absolutely nothing…
The first time my ex husband took me running, I thought I was going to die after 100 meters! It was no fun and very hard. But like with everything, when you persevere, you get better at it and things become easier.
I started running more seriously after I had my first child. I had gained 20 kg (uhu!) and started powerwalking with the stroller and slowly moved on from there.
Both my boys were there when I ran my first 10K and was passed by the fast walkers on the last uphill
I even went and did a half marathon and will never forget the Kenyans already on their way back when I was still at KM 6
And even though running has been about achievement in the past, about pushing your limits and trying longer, tougher runs, it is no longer about that now.
Now I run to empty my head. I have tried meditating and running is a lot like it.
Because when you run, or meditate, your attention has to stay in the now.
So here are 5 tips from the book ‘Running with the mind of Meditation‘ also known as Running Buddha.
1 Be gentle with yourself:
When running or meditating, the beginning is the hardest period. It is hard to change our habits, whether they are mental or physical. Therefore it is important not to want or expect too much in the beginning. If it’s not working, do not reproach yourself, but be gentle, and simply start again.
2 Watch your posture.
Like meditation, running is a unique combination of relaxation, a good body posture and symmetry. In meditation, a bent body causes you pain and leads to more thoughts. With running as well, an upright body serves you best.
3 Don’t close up.
Many people (including me) like to run with music in their ears to distract their mind or to get motivated by the beat. But even if music can give you energy, it is also an obstacle to be really present in what you are doing. I had my best runs when I was listening to the wind, feeling the rain on my skin and hearing the birds chirp above me.
4 Run on dirt roads.
Running on dirt roads, as opposed to streets, is good for your abdominal and back muscles because you continuously have to make little adjustments or jump over obstacles, so it also improves your balance. And this requires your concentration and attention and it a great way to stay in the moment.
5 Be flexible.
When running or meditating, it is good to develop a certain routine and discipline, but be careful that you don’t get into a rut: that can be demotivating. Be flexible and creative; it is not necessary to always run at the same time. Vary your routes and give in to impulses to take a detour or stop at something beautiful. I love to take pictures of the kind of ‘art’ that nature makes.
The writer of the book ‘Running with the mind of Meditation‘, Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche (1962), is a known spiritual leader who studied in America, England and India. He leads the Tibetan Buddhist school Shambhala International, which has a worldwide network of meditation centers. He is also a marathon runner and in his book het talks about his experience with running and meditating and demonstrates how beautifully they both can reinforce each other.