Meditation for Runners
There are actually two ways meditation can be of use for runners. One may consider meditation just before the race or one may even use meditation while they are running. Meditation while running is also known as mindfulness running.
Getting your head in the state of mindfulness during a run is a bit more advanced. You can start off with building your mindfulness just before your run. It clears your mind from negative thoughts that may affect your run as a whole and it prepares your mindset so that you can remain motivated during the whole run. Positive thoughts may help you find a focal point in achieving your running goal but having a clear head greatly improves the channelling of your energy into your exercise.
Common Misconceptions on Meditation
Before we even get to what meditation is all about, we will need to clear out some common misconceptions of what it is. For one, it is not simply becoming silent and blocking off all the noise. You may have an image of a person in a lotus position with closed eyes humming a mantra in order to project an image of zen. This can be a starting point for what meditation is but it simply is not a superficial projection of peacefulness. It is also not a mandatory set of physical positions that will lead you to a state of meditation.
Perhaps one can think of meditation as a journey towards a goal rather than a set number of pathways to take in order to achieve that goal. The more you step away from a systematic approach to meditation then you can see that you are not limited to set circumstances for you to achieve a mindful experience. For example, you do not need an absolutely silent room in order for you to meditate. You can do it anywhere and anytime so long as it is safe and there are no external factors directly affecting your personal process.
Start Small to Get Started
As mentioned, this is a personal process therefore it is not absolute that what works for others will immediately work for you. However, countless experts have figured out some fundamentals that will help you get going with your meditation flow.
Some people might even get so caught up in trying to create a perfect setup for meditation that anything going out of their expectations will derail their attempts to achieve that mindfulness. Most especially if you do not always have control over your environment, the bare necessities will have to do.
For the simplest arrangement, find a place where you are comfortable and not constantly stimulated by external factors like radio noises, active tv screen, or even other people loudly conversing. This can be a chair, your sofa, or even your bed. So long as you can maintain a good posture sitting upright, then anything will do.
When you have found your seating arrangement then you may begin with some basic steps.
- Breathe slowly and notice the movement of your stomach as you inhale and exhale.
- Relax your chest so that the breathing is deep and comes from your diaphragm instead of your chest lifting up and down.
- As your mind begins to relax, let go of thoughts about the future or even anything you have to do after and just focus on what is happening now
- Allow yourself to completely experience the sensations in your body, notice your heart beating and the flow of air as you inhale and exhale.
- Your awareness of your body and breathing becomes greater and sometimes your mind might wander, remember to simply focus once more on your breathing as it becomes a sort of rhythm that you can flow with.
All these steps might seem simple but to execute them requires a person’s will and submission at the same time. The will to focus on your breathing is also what helps you to realise that there is only so much you can control, and the rest you leave to nature.
Letting Go of Expectations
Frustrations may be born out of expectations on how a meditation should be. There are a great number of examples of wonderful people able to meditate and achieve this blissful image. When you cannot achieve a similar experience, you are left frustrated and possibly wondering what you did wrong.
This is where it is important that you should stop focusing on systems and expectations. Concepts of right or wrong can often distort the flow so focus instead on observation and perception. Trying to control everything is the exact opposite of mindfulness. Accept what you have in control now, your breathing, and submit to the experience of meditation.
If you have found your flow in meditation just before a run, you can take it further and apply it during your actual running. You know how some runners no longer notice the time and seem to be completely comfortable maintaining a pace despite the distance? Some of these runners have found their mindful state during their run. You too can achieve this when it is no longer difficult for you to begin a meditation.
As with any skill or craft, it all boils down to practice and consistency until it becomes a habit that requires no effort to replicate.
Making it a habit
In order for you to make meditation a part of your running habit, you simply need to set at least five minutes of your day to meditate. It could be at the start of your day when you have just woken up and are feeling fresh from a good sleep or you can even make it an end of the day activity to slow you down and relax just before you go to bed.
Just like running as a sport, you might find it hard at first to bring yourself in a state of mindfulness. As you consistently follow through with meditations on a daily basis, you will find it becoming easier to enter that mindful state. Apart from improvements in your usual runs, you will also notice other aspects of your life getting better.