Thursday, September 8, 2016

Running as a spiritual practice

My brother brought to my attention, he is an avid fan of Krista Tippett's "On Being" podcast. This episode titled "Running as a spiritual practice" (  ) brings together many thoughts on running that I've been having over the past couple months. First that running for me really is a form of meditation for me and I find it becoming a personal spiritual practice. I regularly sense a spiritual connection when I run and meditate, in the past when I regularly went to church it was rare to sense a spiritual connection. I've been going to a mindfulness mediation group for about a year and only recently have I begun to grasp / understand mindfulness and the benefits of meditation. It has really helped me understand myself and deal with layers of crap built up over decades. Which leads to the second point this podcast highlights for me - that running for me has helped me not just deal with stress in my life, but that it has been a huge help in dealing with pain and depression in my life. I've joked that on long runs sometimes the hardest part is turning around to come home (previously only confessed that to 2 people), but it isn't a joke. If I had a place to escape to, I may not have turned around. Yes I love my family, but it was tough on me. I found the stress relief I experienced while running was enough that I could return home and continue on ...

I didn't realize how much sadness I was carrying around.
Now I am happy and feel unburdened. I regularly dance out of joy. And cry tears of joy

I really started making the connection between meditation and running back in February (over 6 months) ago while talking to a friend about running. So thankful for that conversation and the friendship that has grown. Thru this past month (August 2016) I feel I have somehow dispensed with the crap altogether and started living again ... with my mind free of the burden of unworthiness, negative self thoughts and self flagellation. Responsibilities haven't changed, just my perspective. 

I can't believe how happy I am!!!! 

I struggle to describe why - a week at the beach at the beginning of August is a normal annual event, but this year is was so much more relaxing. I have been going to the meditation group for about a year and practicing mindfulness meditation. The biggest change is that I spend more time (while running and meditation) focusing being present - while running I try to focus on my body at the current moment - feet hitting the ground, engaging the arms and core, thinking about breathing. It doesn't happen instantly, takes time to settle in to that mindset, not so different from sitting meditation.