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Why We Run: Running Is the Best Meditation Practice

Running is magical. Once a runner gets into the flow, unlimited potentialities are there to discover. Many argue that running is a horrible idea and will wreak havoc on the knees. However, I’d like to talk about the magic: running as an idea generator, exercise, and meditation. Plus, we’ll talk about that knee thing too.

Confession: I never thought in a million years that I would be a runner.
I used to make fun of runners. In my early twenties, I would see packs of runners and think, “that is just the silliest way to exercise.”

Now into my second year of running, I know that it’s an excellent way to exercise but that it’s so much more than just exercise. Let me explain.

Running as the idea generator

Are you familiar with the concept of flow? It’s when time seems to stop, usually when you’re doing something you enjoy. Think about the weekend – no work, spending time with friends and family and then before you know it’s back to the grind. That freedom you felt over the weekend, that’s flow, and it happens when you run.

Confession: it took me at least a year to experience flow while running but it’s worth it and here’s why.

When in flow, worries fade away relaxing the mind allowing it to work efficiently. While running, I get new ideas for blog posts (like this one), develop a strong sense of confidence, craft new recipe ideas and develop strategies to accomplish goals.

Of course, running is great exercise too

Anyone can run and if you don’t believe me check out this story of Jonathan Mendes, this tale of Anthony Butler or this story of Harriette Thompson. Anyone can run!

The physical benefits of running are numerous and include: improved cardiovascular health, increased HDL levels that enhance cholesterol in the body, increased levels of white blood cells which fight early stages of diabetes and some cancers and regarding that knee thing – running improves bone health.

Run Addicts reports, “weight-bearing exercises increase bone density and prevent injury and the onset of osteoporosis.”

This research showed that runners experienced less knee pain when compared to non-runners.

Running is a meditation

Buddha was a runner; I’m almost sure of it! Running can be a meditation, and the benefits of meditation are as numerous as the benefits of exercise.

Often while running, I will come to profound understandings of Dharma teachings and experience profound peace with the world around me. This deep peace reduces stress on my body and mind.

When I see another person or animal in my path, I wish them love and peace. Mentally I repeat, “May you be free from suffering and the root of suffering; may you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.” Using this mantra opens my heart and generates compassion.

Confession: it took me two years to experience meditation while running but it’s worth it – don’t give up!

Marrying meditation and running amplifies our negative self-talk. The monkey mind comes to life – in a big way. The opportunity to address the negative states of mind in this capacity is great. Because of this, I would suggest taking a meditation class or finding a community to connect with for support.

If you’re interested in running but need some motivation check out these great podcasts for inspiration and tips:

The Runner’s World Show
Human Race 

Originally published on Charles Minguez

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