If you got the May issue of Runner's World you most likely read the piece by Claire Trageser entitled "Transcendental Steps" about her adventure at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado and her attempt to find joy in running again through meditation. I found this article to be very interesting because, as I've mentioned before, I often use my runs as a time to contemplate my problems, vent frustrations, and think about the day ahead or what I'm going to eat when I get home. The idea of meditative running is completely new to me.
Trageser's story recounts her journey while attending the center's "Running with the Mind of Meditation and Yoga" program. The program features meditation sessions, group runs, yoga classes and healthy vegetarian meals. They sleep in tents and run on mountain trails. The program is based on the ideas of the Shambhala's spiritual director, the Sakyong (the Shambhala is a borderless kingdom of meditation practitioners committed to realizing enlightenment and social harmony through daily life.). The forty-eight year old leader who has run eight marathons, teaches the idea of meditation in action, and that the practice of meditation while running allows the runner not only to enjoy running more, but also to become a better runner. The ChiRunning method feels the same way about meditative running. The philosophy contends that through meditative practice while running, the runner will find mental focus and clarity and be able to decrease pain and injury while increasing the level of enjoyment found in the exercise.
The Sakyong believes that mind and body are meant to be united, and by focusing on movement and breathing and what is happening at that moment in time, rather than planning out the rest of the day or thinking about problems, a runner will become stronger and find joy and satisfaction in running. He recommends transfering themes used in seated meditation such as awareness, mindfulness, and satisfaction to the act of running and practicing meditation in action. By letting the mind go and wander, the body will begin to feel weak and tired. By focusing on the present, the mind will be aware and the body strong. There is no expectation for a runner to be completely centered on breath and movement for the entire run, or to be able to do it without practice, but it is meant to be a path to become a stronger, happier, more fulfilled runner. There are a few videos on the Sakyong's website that I found very interesting. They are each only a few minutes long and explain how runners can practice meditation in action and why it is useful. Click HERE to watch "Body and Mind" where the Sakyong explains his method of running, and HERE to see "Meditation in Action" on how to incorporate this idea into every day life.
What are your thoughts on meditative running? Have you tried this before or do you try to solve the worlds problems while you run?
Workout Stats -
13.75 mi bike
3x10 bicep curls
3x10 hammer curls
3x10 weighted side bends (ea side)
3x10 lat pull downs