Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meditative Running

An e-mail
A friend emailed me last night asking the question, "How did you learn about meditative running, and where would you point me if I wanted to know more?" After responding to her email this morning, I realized  that may be I should share my response on meditative running on Udyama as well. Hopefully, it will inspire others to try "meditative running" as well.

My response
Laura, my meditative running is kind of self-taught, because I didn't have any teacher or guru who taught me the techniques of meditative running. Meditative running is nothing but meditating during running. Over the last couple of years, I have taken up the practice of meditation very seriously, and it has helped me tremendously. I initially started with sitting meditation, the more traditional way to meditate. Soon I realized that running will be a great time to meditate as well. So, that's what I tried. The effect was almost instantaneous. My running became much more pleasurable and blissful experience than before. As you know, it's not that running was a chore for me before; I always enjoyed running, but meditation during running made the enjoyable experience much more profound. In fact, I realized that it was easier for me to get into a meditative state while running than while practicing in the sitting position. As regards how to practice meditation, it will be difficult explain that in a few sentences, but I'll try.

Meditation, according to me, is basically the process of eliminating mental noise from our minds. It can be done through many ways, but one of the simplest ways is to do it through the process of mindfulness. You may start by directing your attention on your breath. Keeping your attention steadfast on your breath will be a very difficult task; thousands of distracting thoughts will populate your mind. When this happens, don't feel frustrated. Instead, try to be aware of the entrance of a distracting thought, acknowledge it, gently let it go, and bring back your attention to your breath. Repeat this process again and again. Over time you will be able to keep your mind free from distracting thoughts (or noise) for longer duration. I practice this exact same thing (or some variation of it) while running as well, and that's what makes it meditative running. I'll be happy to guide you through the process of meditative running, if you want to learn more about it. You can also use the excellent resources available in Bloomington to learn the techniques of meditation, and then apply it to all walks of life, including running. The best place to learn meditation in Bloomington, I think, is the  Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center. They don't teach running meditation there, but you can definitely learn Walking Meditation there and apply it to your running. :-)

Concluding words
I hadn't posted anything on running here for over a year. So it feels really good to write about running again. Although I did engage in a lot of running last year, and had some major personal achievements (Finishing first  in my age-group in the competitive IU-Mini Marathon last year; Doing a 50K in the steep hills of Kentucky--my first ultra-marathon; Running a trail half-marathon completely barefoot). I didn't share these achievements here on my blog because I didn't want to feel like I was boasting. But now I can say with confidence that these accomplishments were made possible only because of my meditative running. I ran the IU-Mini this year as well; I was slower by 3 minutes compared to last year, and did not win any prizes. But that does not mean that it was any less an achievement for me. Only we know how many barriers and personal physical limits we have overcome, when we cross that finish line.

Blisters from running the Knobstone Trail Half-Marathon barefoot.

Blisters from the same Knobstone Half-Marathon.
Although, I had trained well on barefoot before the race, I wasn't prepared for the several miles of gravel-based trails on the course. It was really my meditation that helped me run through the pain.

From the recent IU-Mini Marathon 2012

From the recent IU-Mini Marathon 2012

6 comments:

  1. You explain the process of vigilant meditation very well! And 2 good pictures of nasty looking blisters and 2 very nice pics of your running:)

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  2. HANDSOME PARESH

    MS. SMITA ASAI

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    1. That's kind of you to say. Thanks Smita!

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  3. you look handsome :D

    smita

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    1. Now you are embarrassing me, but thanks again, Smita.

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