Running, for me, is surprisingly calming for cardio.
I start slowly and, with each step, leave my stress behind. I feel that I am one with my body and all thoughts depart my mind.
I am magnificent.
All my muscles are working together to create this wonderful way to move. Isn’t it amazing the way our bodies work?
We sometimes take for granted how incredible our bodies truly are.There are so many things happening at once; there is so much involved in simply living. We breathe, we blink and our heart keeps beating without us ever needing to think about it. As healthy human beings, with each motion, our minds and bodies work together seamlessly. We don’t always realize what a gift that is. We concern ourselves with imperfections, blemishes, extra weight around our thighs.
I must admit: I am guilty of forgetting how lucky I am just to have this body.
Running is my reminder. As my body bounds about, around the trail or track, I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful that I can move like this, my heart pounding, my hair blowing in the wind. I know that it won’t last forever, but that’s part of its beauty and what makes it meaningful to me. There will always be ups and downs but right now, I can run. I am living completely in the moment. In this moment, I am free. I am unstoppable, a force to be reckoned with. I am not concerned about what I have done or will do; I take this moment for what it is and my worries melt away.
I cannot erase the past, I cannot predict the future, but I can have peace. Each thump against the dirt, I take in the world around me. Wherever I am, I am. I see things I wouldn’t when I’m too busy being stuck in my head. I feel connected to the vast sky, to the towering trees and their mighty roots.
I feel small, and I like it.
I’m just a tiny piece of something bigger. I’m part of a family, a community, a society, our planet, an entire universe, and I am connected to all of it. As small as I may be, I can make a difference. I can have an impact; my actions create ripples. Seeing the beauty that surrounds me, the animals I breeze past and the air I take in, I want to do better. I know what matters. I remember not to concern myself with trivial things and instead see the bigger picture. My car doesn’t matter, but my self-care does. My kindness matters, my love matters. I don’t need luxury; I have life. The less I want, the more I realize what I already have.
Running is, in fact, more similar to traditional meditation than one may first realize; both require patience, practice and presence, and they share many of the same benefits. Running and meditation alike produce endorphins and promote self-confidence as well as awareness in the present moment. Both may deepen our connection with nature if practiced outdoors. Running also provides proven heart health benefits.
To make the most of your own meditative run, take a few deep breaths before starting. It’s also a good practice to get a sense of how we are feeling before we begin our run, both physically and mentally. While running, we should remain aware of our bodies and surroundings while letting stress slip away. If I get lost in thought, I bring myself back by focusing on the rhythm of my run, the sound of my feet connecting with the ground. Throughout my run, I concentrate on breathing, making sure to maintain a steady breath. Shortness of breath is common but avoidable with practice and proper breathing techniques. A helpful tip is to practice deep breathing prior to a run as shallow breathing is often a cause for shortness of breath. An adequate warm-up will also help with proper breathing as it prepares our body for the run.
When my run is over, I am refreshed and relaxed. My heart may be racing but my mind is still. I see things more clearly. Decisions come easier; I am more patient and positive. I am present. When these feelings start to subside, I simply start running again. I’m not running away from anything, but instead running towards. I run towards Nirvana, so that one day I may reach it.
Author: Kristen Koennemann
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: elephant archives
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