Have you ever experienced running along a trail, connecting with nature, feeling alive and then having a “break through” moment where your mind clears and your body takes control while you “observe”? This phenomenal experience is called active meditation (or movement meditation), where the mind, body and soul start performing together and an inner high spot is reached. Active meditation is exhilarating because you literally enter a state where you don’t feel like you are making conscious decisions to move, but instead your body is just flowing and you are along for the ride.
In a recent survey, Runner’s World magazine asked readers why they run. 95.3 percent said because it makes them feel good mentally, and 85.8 percent said for stress relief. Not surprisingly, 93 percent of Americans say that stress affects their perceptions, thoughts and choices. Science backs up the idea that running actually undoes the damage caused by the stress response. There have been numerous studies looking at the benefits of endorphins associated with the famous “runner’s high” as well as other dopamine/feel-good hormones that are suppressed with cortisol levels (stress hormone) are high. Running makes an excellent movement meditation, during which you can deeply connect to the present moment.
“By paying attention to how your mind and body feel … this changes running from simple exercise to a journey of discovery and growth.” -Sakyong Mipham
Active meditation is commonly explained as moments that are not spent consuming information but moments that can be used to boost mental health and abundance. When you combine meditation with physical activity it creates both novel and unique health benefits. There is an increase in blood circulation within the brain that fuels an improvement in the ability to function and dive into creativity.
Do you ever find yourself coming up with exciting and creative ideas while you run? Since running is an aerobic repeat-pattern activity, it stimulates the right brain and therefore creativity. Some of the best thoughts come out of a run! Also, when you are in this mindful state, you have access to an incredible tool for reducing stress and increasing joy that leaves you feeling mentally refreshed and rejuvenated even after a long trail run.
Try Active Meditation While You Run
Allow yourself some time to get into the zone. The hardest but most important part is being able to push past resistance. There’s always this period of time when the muscles aren’t quite ready or your mind is still racing coming off of where you just left – whether it’s the laundry, emails, a presentation you have to give, etc. This does take some time and work, but then all of a sudden you find steady and clear focus.
Overall, active meditation is a challenging yet unique battle with metamorphic results. When you are able to reach that point of everything being okay and it’s just you in the action, fuzzy feelings between unreal and real, you have reached this transformative state!
Peace. Love. Running.