Historically mindfulness exercises had been developed in Buddhist meditation practice. Nowadays many athletes use mindfulness during their runs. When combined with breathing techniques, mindful running becomes a unique workout to clear our minds from our daily stress, while being physically active outdoors.
Mindful Running => less stress
What is Mindfulness?
When we practice mindfulness we consciously bring our attention to the present moment without any judgment. It is the ability to be fully aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and to accept things as they are.
7 pillars of Mindfulness
Seven characteristics (pillars) have been listed for a good basic posture that can promote mindfulness. These seven pillars are not separate from each other, but overlap and mutually reinforce each other.
- Beginner’s mind
- Letting go
1. Do not judge
Assessing ourselves and our experiences have become such an ingrained habit for many of us, that we are barely aware of it. Yet this tendency to compare and judge can be a source of inner conflict and it causes stress.
A mindful attitude is non-judgmental. What happens, should be perceived without “good” or “bad” labels, but simply as what it appears. During the practice of mindfulness, we try to avoid inner comments and judgments as much as possible.
2. Be patient
The urge for achievements, improvements, and solutions is a result of conditioning ourselves. It may be difficult to avoid. The jumble of thoughts and feelings that we usually experience, cannot be switched off completely overnight. But with patience, you can initially let things be as they are, and see things as they are.
Nothing will remain the way it is; everything is constantly changing, even if we don’t recognize any difference.
3. Always start over – Beginner’s mind
Many of us have pre-formed ideas about who we are and how things should be. Mindfulness means the willingness to put aside everything we think we already know and start all over again.
Especially in difficult circumstances, when we are losing courage, or when feelings of hopelessness or indifference threaten to take over. Don’t completely let go of things. Simply re-start.
Many of us are not used to turning our attention inward, and relying on signals that come from within. Observing what our body has to tell us, can sometimes be painful, boring, or even annoying. We can only obtain the motivation to continue if we trust that this observation will lead us in a positive direction.
5. Don’t strive
Almost automatically we compare what occurs with what we find desirable. And quite often we want to change and improve. During Mindfulness we don’t aim to achieve anything. Mindfulness is the subtle art of observing and do nothing.
Acceptance is different from approval! If, for example, we sense physical discomfort (stiffness, pain, itch), it does not mean we should be happy with that sensation. The art of mindfulness is to perceive and accept it. Instead of pushing it away, just let it be for that moment. Later we may want to do things about it, but not necessarily right now.
Another example is having certain thoughts or feelings that we dislike, and we’d rather not accept. Mindful exercise is about the willingness to see things as they are. Accept that thoughts will come, and go again.
7. Letting go
Our minds and bodies prefer to hold on to experiences that are pleasant and we may wish to repeat them. Be aware that every experience is unique. Just embrace the moment!
Unfortunately, our minds sometimes cling to negative experiences and feelings. Letting go of them may require daily practice. An experience of hurt, the need for revenge or retaliation, the idea of being a victim, or the thought of not being able to do something. Just try to accept that thoughts and feelings come, just as waves rolling onto the beach. And then let them go again.
Mindfulness and Running combined
When running mindfully, we embrace the 7 pillars of mindfulness.
- We just focus on what we are doing right here and right now. We shift our minds to our body posture, running techniques, and breathe. With each step we take, we are moving forward, and that’s all that matters. There is no need to judge our running level.
- With patience, we will overcome difficulties or challenges during our runs.
- There is no such thing as a failed run. And should we experience unpleasant moments during our runs, we will shift our minds to recovering our body posture and breathe, and from there we simply start over. We’ll look at every stride as a new beginning.
- We trust that our run will be leading us in a positive direction. We clear our minds, we breathe fresh air, and meanwhile, our fitness and health are improving. We will feel re-energized!
- During Mindful Runs we do not aim for specific running goals. We don’t push ourselves to the limit. We run for the joy of running and being outdoors, without targeting personal records or long distances. Mindful Runners go with the flow and run by feel.
- We accept that we cannot influence everything. The weather may be less pleasant, or the road bumpy or hilly, but we know that every step matters. We listen to our bodies and accept our physical limitations.
- We let go of negative thoughts, like the uncertainty of our capabilities, or the excuses we come up with, why we shouldn’t run or quit earlier. We will let all of those thoughts come and go again.
Mindful Run is for everybody
Anyone can learn how to run mindfully! Who doesn’t want to clear their minds after a stressful day? Who doesn’t like to play outdoors as young children do? Mindful Run will lead to lower stress levels, more energy and contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Mindful Run => More Energy!
If you would like to receive practical tips for a lighter running style, learn how to optimize your breathing, and combine this with mindfulness, please check out the dates of our next Mindful Run Course. It will make your runs more enjoyable, you will clear your head and gain more energy.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comment below. If you like this post, please give it a Thumbs-Up, and don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too. Thank you!