It’s all over the news, internet, or the featured books at a library. Meditation and mindfulness are growing strong as tools to help people with a variety of problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or the inability to keep their mind from racing.
I’ve tried and failed multiple times to get into meditating. I’ve gone to classes, downloaded apps, and read some books to try to figure out why I couldn’t get into that serene headspace and just let go. However, I knew I needed to find something to get me into a similar mood/state of being. With the stress of final papers, testing season, and transitioning between quarters at work, it has already started to wear down on my focus, motivation, and general energy level.
Meanwhile, for completely different reasons, I started training for a 5K in January as a part of a New Years Resolution. While the first few weeks were definitely me trying to convince myself to not stop or walk back to my apartment early, the later weeks proved that longer runs were a great way of meditating.
I think one of the hardest parts of meditating is keeping your mind empty and letting your thoughts go. However, with running, you’re able to let any other worries, thoughts, and wandering thoughts go because you’re focusing on your breathing and the rhythm of the run. This didn’t happen automatically. It took almost three months to get to the point where my mind wasn’t a stream of conscious thoughts related to how much I hated running, how bad my legs hurt, how hungry I was, how creepy it was at night, or some other random musings. But once I got to the point of clearing my mind of everything but the mechanics of running, it became so relaxing! Yes, I was still tired at some points and my mind would break from counting fourth seconds breathing in and four breathing out. Overall, it helped me relax and clear my mind to tackle the day (morning run) or de-stress and “get over” anything that bothered me from work (evening run).
Honestly, I skipped my run this morning…and I’m all over the place.
If you’re interested in getting started, here are some of the best resources:
- C25K: Free app for beginners!
- Runners World: includes a wealth of articles and helpful tips for a wide range of running levels
- Active: Lots of resources, a great community with advice, and a place to find races to motivate you!