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Running As Meditation

By Shelby Logsdon

Marriage and Family Therapy, MMFC/T, MPA, CHHC

Did you know that moving our bodies helps maintain our mental health? It is an excellent way to be in our bodies, to be present in the moment and to release anxiety and stress. So let’s talk about one way to move your body - running!

Okay, hear me out. Some of you may be thinking, no way, I hate running. Others are thinking, damn right, I love running. Totally understand! Some may never take up running but will find another way to challenge themselves and find some peace with moving their bodies.

No doubt about it, running is hard, but it is also so rewarding. I don’t mean winning races and accumulating medals. I mean how your relationship with yourself can change with each foot strike as you run mile after mile.

I love how Sydney Zester simply put it in her poem, first few miles:

“when she passes the nagging

wonder in her mind asking when

she should turn around or

maybe should she slow down,

she is finally free.”

Running is rarely just about running. It is a means to build your strength and endurance, both physically and mentally. Running creates space for mindfulness and meditation. Yes, even with the aches and pains you’ll feel, especially in that first mile, which can definitely seem the hardest, a run is time spent with yourself. Ever notice how after a run you can feel calmer, relaxed and your mood improves? That’s what people refer to as a “runner’s high” and you can build on that with more intention!

Running as a mindfulness and meditation practice helps you stay present while improving your ability to focus on what is happening around you, and within you. You learn to focus on each step in front of you, counting the miles and listening to your body as it tells you what it needs, while noticing the trees swaying in the breeze and the vibrant bright blue flowers along the road that smell so sweet.

Running provides an opportunity to be present, focusing on your intentions and breath, as you rhythmically move your body. Running also challenges your mind to push past physical discomfort and keep moving forward.

Ready to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your runs? Try these steps:

- Try running without listening to music, podcasts or audio books. Minimize the distractions.

- Take a few minutes before each run to practice deep breathing, calming your body and mind, and setting your intentions. Will you use tor the run to ponder a tough question or simply focus on the miles ahead?

- Notice where you are running. What are the sights, sounds and smells around you?

- Count each step, learning to focus your attention to details.

- Mantras!! Ever notice you’re repeating a word or phrase to yourself to keep moving during a run? Create a mantra to repeat to yourself before each run that will help you keep moving and refocus. Change these up with each run.

- Focus on your breath and your body movements. Take deep breaths and notice the effect on your heart rate.

- Gratitude - thank your body for all that it does for you, allowing you the ability to run and move. Be thankful for the time spent moving and enjoying the environment around you.

Happy running!

Shelby Logsdon

Marriage and Family Therapy, MMFC/T, MPA, CHHC

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