Throughout my life, I have always been inspired to exercise. When I first began to run, I mainly just wanted to get in better shape. Over the years, however, running has also become a great source of joy and relaxation — a way to connect with my body, mind and nature all at once. The healthiness of training my body brings me a sense of confidence and vitality.
Since I was very young, I’ve also been inspired to meditate. I find that training the mind through meditation fosters similar, if not more profound, qualities as training the body through exercise does. To me, the relationship between running and meditation was a natural discovery. Through meditative practise, we learn to be more present in all of our activities — be it running, walking, or even spending time with our friends and family.
In some sense, we are always meditating on something. You could be meditating on what you want to have for lunch or a phone conversation you had earlier in the day, but your mind is always focusing on one or more things. And in my book, Running with the Mind of Meditation, I suggest that you treat all movement as a meditative practice.
Meditation and running coalesce easily when you have the motivation to focus on your own health and well-being. Being present during a run allows you to be more fully in your body. You’re less likely to injure yourself and will be able to appreciate your environment more. Developing this strength and flexibility of the mind helps you synchronize with your body at the same time. Your movement becomes more fluid and efficient.
The meditation practice introduced in Running with the Mind of Meditation is simple, but potent, in that it’s the tool that will allow you to transition from focusing just on the breath to being present with all of your daily activities. Instead of just letting your mind flow from one thought to the next during your run, be fully present with your activity and harness the time you are exercising so it creates a sense of contentment in the rest of your day.
Even if you can only make it to the trail for 15 minutes, you can discover the joy of physical and mental synchronization. When you train the body and mind to work together through meditation, not only do you become a better runner, but your entire life begins to exude balance and strength.
To read more about how meditation can change your life click here.
Sakyong Mipham is the head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, which is grounded in the power of creating enlightened society in everyday life. With a unique blend of Eastern and Western perspectives, he teaches this way of social transformation throughout the world. In addition, he extends his vision to a number of humanitarian projects in Asia and the West. He is the author of the bestselling titles Running with the Mind of Meditation, Ruling Your World, and Turning the Mind into an Ally.