Day 13: Zen and the Art of Running in the Zone

From what little I’ve read, there are all kinds of postures for meditation. You can be sitting, standing, walking and lying down. But what about running? I think there’s a case for meditation with a kick… Who’s with me on this?

2015-03-11 18.20.07-1I ran five miles yesterday, focused on the sound of my breath. Just like you should in meditation. Inhale. Exhale. With a little extra huff thanks (or no thanks) to the cold I underestimated. Running in this Farmcoast, as they call it, there is way too much beauty to ignore. So my eyes may’ve wandered a bit. But overall, my attention stayed close, one foot, one breath–following the other.

If noticing what’s only in the now and what you’re feeling in the moment is meditative, I’d say running fits that mold. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Sometimes in forced staccato. I could hear the wind and the whizz of the cars. And I was all too aware of the way my head felt without my running cap (having failed to judge what 36 degrees was like since the warmup not a day before.) I also tuned into that slight pain that tends to happen in my knees. Now that (ahem) age and years of wear and tear are taking their toll. I felt my right hamstring tighten like it does lately. And knew when to change my stride to shake it out. I was right there–in every step, as I heel-toed the asphalt, aligned in body, mind and spirit…

Kind of a lot of heft to put on a pair of sneakers, no?

Sure, my thoughts wandered now and then. Do I have time to make a detour here? Have I run too far to make it back on my body’s fuel tank? Am I running this week’s cookies, chips and wine off yet? You know, things like that.

But like practicing meditation (which I am extremely challenged to do sitting down), I kept bringing my attention back to my breath. It not only kept me going, it kept me still. Though I was logging the miles on the outside, inside I was just keeping pace with each moment, quietly watching and letting myself doing my thing.

At the end of my run, I felt renewed. Whatever I packed on through the day–completely untied with my trail runners. Whether it was the endorphin rush or the mindfulness of my run–who knows. But I suspect it is possible to find your Zen in the running zone. Try it, and let me know. Maybe we can start the world’s first meditation marathon.

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