Have you heard about Mindful Meditation before? This is a psychological process that helps you increase self-awareness. Mindfulness is applied in a wide variety of fields; within the context of this article, you will learn about this process in running.
The benefits of mindfulness in running
By applying this mental process in your mind as you run, you can develop a heightened awareness of our own body’s sensation.
Mindfulness help you tune in and become aware of your own strength; that way, you can check with yourself if you are able to push yourself further by running faster or for a longer distance. This is the strategy that many elite runners apply.
According to studies, mindfulness is beneficial for our overall well-being, both physically and emotionally. When it comes to running, here we focus on how mindfulness improves your running performance and experience. Through practicing mindfulness, you will enjoy running much more.
Seven steps of practicing mindful meditation when running
In this step, you start running and imagine that you always have a smile on your face. It helps the process become more enjoyable for you.
Then, tell yourself right away about what you just notice around you as you run. That way, you blend with your surrounding environment and become content with it.
After spending a few minutes with step one, you can now switch your attention to yourself: what are your thoughts, how are you feeling and what your body is doing. You should feel how your muscles are working out and how you breathe in and out.
You tell yourself all these things and you will automatically develop a sense of self-acceptance. It makes you feel good and content with yourself. In this step, do not just to change the way you breathe or how you move; do not even stop. You should just go with the flow, focus on observing yourself and forget about everything else for a few minutes.
For this step, you will fixate on your breathing only.
Make yourself become curious about your breathing: you should observe your breathing and see how it works. Feel how different parts of your body work as you breathe in and out (for example: your stomach, chest, nostrils, and lungs). Sense the air movement near your nostrils. You should become fascinated with your own breathing and enjoy the process. Again, do not try to change anything and accept your breathing the way it is.
You can spend a few minutes for this step or more: that depends on you.
Now, it is time to have self-awareness of your body as a whole. Take a deeper “scan” through the body and sense how each area of the body works. There is no rule which area to start but it is recommended you spend a few minute for each area in the following orders: start with the feet first, then move up to the legs to see how the muscles and bones change as you move or how the joints work in connecting body parts together. After that, notice your arm movements, and then observe how your chest and stomach lift up as you breathe in or how fast and slow your heartbeats are. Finally, let your self-awareness come to the head, face and neck. Do not forget to take note of your own facial expression how your eyes move around.
It may get repetitive to say this but please do not try to make any changes. Here, you accept things as the status quo and learn to feel content with your physical body.
It is now time for you to reach deeply into your mind and understand your own emotional feeling. What are you thinking right now? What is your current mood? How do you react to your own thought and mood and does running have anything to do with this?
In each step above, you focus in a specific task in your quest for self-awareness. Now, you try to bring your awareness altogether. You become an observer of yourself from a distance. You watch yourself as you breathe and run. You are engaged to this running experience but you become aware of it and also slightly dissociated with it at the same time. This calms your mind and makes you feel peaceful with yourself.
In this final step, firstly you can try to repeat any step or switch the step order to check if you can still remain your mindfulness during your run. Then, start connecting with your surroundings again. Do not forget to have some post-run reflection about how you practice mindfulness and how your running experience is.
The last thing you should take note is not to force yourself to master the mindfulness process: Let self-awareness come naturally. Be patient and accepting of the surrounding environment as well as your own thoughts.