Despite the fact that running and meditation are two very obviously different activities – one requires you to sit in one position and the other requires you to use every limb and accelerate your heart beat – they can both have the same effect on the mind, body and spirit.
Here’s a list of how running and meditation are similar.
• Both produce the feel-good chemicals, or endorphins. After each run we feel a tranquil mind and that is because we feel nourished from within. The same goes for meditation.
• On days when our stress levels are high and we feel highly irritated or just full of stress and fear – all negative emotions – half an hour of meditation, of just sitting in a quiet room and focusing on our breath can make us feel exponentially better. The same applies to a run. A half an hour run can wash away a bad day with ease.
• Being mindful and aware through meditation can boost our self-esteem and confidence. Regular exercise does the same – as one gets fitter and healthier, self-confidence goes on the rise.
• Present moment awareness is promoted, which allows us to be more conscious of what nourishes us and let go of what does not serve us. This applies to both activities.
• Both practices can teach us to let go of thoughts so we avoid drama. In meditation, we look for the gap between our thoughts. And the aim is to expand that gap so that the emptiness increases. That is pure meditation. In running – this process is referred to as the flow.
In a runner’s flow, one doesn’t realize how fatigued they are, or how their breath is rising and falling. All that matters is one foot ahead of the other. The mind empties itself of all thoughts, and reaches a zen-like mode. Our mind is calm, our body is relaxed, and our breath is effortless. We connect to the space between our thoughts, the space where every thought arises. This is the space of pure potential. The more you run, the calmer your mind will be.