The first image that conjures up to many’s minds when hearing the word mindfulness is someone blissfully sitting on the floor, eyes closed, while chanting in an ancient language.
Couldn’t be further from the truth. Getting Zen ain’t about looks, the position of your hands or the mantras you chant.
Mindfulness is the opportunity to catch one’s breath, witness one’s thinking patterns, and to be present in the here and now. It matters not the setting or what you’re doing.
You’re simply not thinking about the past nor worrying about the future, but instead, you’re 100 percent absorbed in what you’re doing, whether it’s reading a book, driving, playing catch with your kids, working, or, of course, pounding the pavement.
Enter mindful running.
Mindfulness is about running the mile you’re in. This means staying focused on your run, your body, your movement, your gait, and your thoughts—nothing else.
How To Practice Mindfulness While Running
What follows are the guidelines you need to cultivate mindfulness while running. Some of the advice may seem weird, but give it a try and see for yourself.
Meditate Before You run
As a mindfulness newbie, get some practice by meditating before you head out the door for a run.
Go for any meditation works the best for you. You can do this while sitting down, listening to music, while getting dressed, or going through a set of breathing exercises (as shown in the below YouTube tutorial).
To make sure you’re doing it right, place your right hand on your chest and the other on your belly, ensuring that your belly—not your chest—inflates with air.
Inhale in deeply through the nose and exhale out through the mouth. Perform 16 to 20 deep breaths. This is enough to get you started. If you want more, do a 10- to 15-minute seated meditation. It’s up to you.
During the pre-run meditation, focus on your main training goal/purpose for the day. You can also reflect on what you’re going to do and acknowledge your feelings at that moment.
3. Lose Your Mind & Come to your Senses
The awareness scan technique is commonly utilized in seated meditation but also works very well on the run.
Not only can it help you reach a deeper mindfulness level, but it also gives you more awareness of your running style and form.
Here’s how to get started.
Scan Your Environment
Begin by paying attention to your environment. Notice the sights and listens to the sounds around you. Focus on the ongoing cars, the buildings architectural details, etc.
Scan your Body
As you start to build a sweat, slowly shift your attention to your body. Focus on the rhythm of feet pounding the ground, and feel your heart beating. Notice how your breathing pattern changes as cover more distance.
Next, choose one part of our body and pay attention to it on every passing moment.
How do your legs feel?
How do your arms feel?
How do your feet feel?
How do your muscles feel?
Notice any tightness in any part of your body. Observe it and acknowledge it. Don’t try to change it. Everything is as it’s supposed to be.
Scan Your Mind
Turn up your inner gaze to your mind. Notice how your mind responds. Notice your thoughts as they come up. Pay attention and notice what’s going on.
3. Breathe Rhythmically
Take your practice to the next level by diving deeper into your breath.
Let your breathing become the focus of your run. When your mind and attention gets pulsed by thoughts, bring your attention back to your breath and repeat it as often as required.
When you move while focusing on your breathing, you reconnect with your body, moving more efficiently.
Here’s how to start.
First, begin walking, and later slowly jog in sync with your breath. Don’t worry about your pattern. Just get your foot strikes and breath together.
For instance, opt for a 3:2 breathing ratio. On the inhale, take three steps, then take two steps on the exhale. So, inhale, step, step, step, exhale, step, step. This might sound like a lot to digest, but with a little bit of practice, it can easily be done.
By matching your steps and your breath, you’re more involved in running and can connect your body and mind.
For faster workouts, make sure to adjust this to a 2:2 or 2:1 pattern.
There you have it
The above guidelines are all you need to start cultivating mindfulness while running –or doing any other forms of exercise for that matter. Now it’s your time to show up and do the work. The rest is just detail.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep running strong