Running meditation seems like quite the paradox at first glance. After all, meditation seems to embody the very concept of stillness. And as all runners know, you’re anything but still when you hit the trail. But supplementing your runs with meditation could be beneficial for your running and your overall health.
Read on to learn more about the concept of meditating while running — and how you can try it for yourself.
What Is Meditation?
To truly grasp the concept of running meditation, it’s helpful to gain a deeper understanding of what meditation involves. There’s so much more to it than the image of sitting cross-legged under a tree, perfectly still. There are actually many different ways to approach this mindfulness practice.
While the concept has evolved into many different forms throughout its millennia-long history, the fundamental principles of meditation remain the same: To achieve a heightened state of awareness and mental clarity through focused techniques. And, it is more than just a spiritual practice: Studies show consistent meditation techniques help support brain and overall body health, too.1
Here are some of the more established or researched potential benefits of a meditation practice:
- A healthier, youthful brain: Research shows that the brains of those who have been meditating for years show improvements on the cellular level.
- Increased focus, less worrying and anxiety: Those who meditate may be better able to calm themselves and refocus their thoughts away from worries or negativity.
- Potentially beneficial psychological effects: Studies show that meditation can help ease stress and potentially help support mental health.2,3
Why Running Is An Ideal Opportunity To Try Meditating
At first glance, running might seem like a counterproductive physical activity to meditation. But when done properly, meditation might just enhance what you get out of running. And with the right approach, the reverse might just hold true: The rhythmic, repetitive motion of running, combined with your focused mindset, could potentially help you get into a good meditative space.
Running and meditation share many similar elements and may, in fact, have a natural relationship: both involve focusing on breathing, being mindful of your surroundings, and being aware of your body. When you hit your stride and get into a good pace – something every runner strives for – an ideal space is created for you to free your mind to practice some meditation or mindfulness techniques. Plus, a calmer, more focused mind affords you a distraction-free, more satisfying run. It’s definitely a win-win situation.4,5
How To Meditate While Running
If you’re eager to give running meditation a try, here are some tips to help you get started. With some practice, there’s no reason why your running routine can’t be both a physical and mental exercise that reaps you a ton of potential health benefits. It bears mentioning though, that if you’re new to running, it’s best to consult with your doctor before trying to meditate while running.
A Simple Guide To Running Meditation
- Do some deep breathing, and set an intention. Allow yourself 3-5 minutes before you start running to settle your mind and set an intention for that run. You could be pondering a problem or trying to resolve a question. Try to dedicate your run towards that intention as you take deep calming breaths.
- Consider chanting a mantra in your head. Match each word or syllable to each footfall as you run at a comfortable pace. This may help you focus more and get into the zone.
- Think of your breathing and running form as you go. Be mindful of your breathing pattern and your posture – two things that both running and meditation put a premium on.
- Try simple mindfulness techniques. Mentally list things you can see, smell, or hear as you run. Or, practice being aware of your other body parts all working in concert as you run – think of your arms swinging, for example. Another simple technique is to count your footfalls or strides up to 8, then count back down to one.
- Don’t judge yourself. Banish negative thoughts, like feeling silly or worrying that you’re doing it wrong. Avoid beating yourself up once your mind wanders or strays away from your counts or mantra. Simply acknowledge, then try to resume your meditation.
- Minimize distractions. Unplug from your usual crutches, like running with music or with a friend. This is the time to learn to be comfortable being still – or in motion – all on your own and your own thoughts.6,7
Run For Mental And Physical Health
With running meditation, you may enjoy enhanced physical and mental effects, and support for your spiritual well-being. This holistic approach to both your health and fitness costs nothing to try, but the potential benefits could be priceless.
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