I have started doing something I never thought I would: track running.
I had tried to run a little bit in the past but never really enjoyed it. I started going for regular walks a couple of months ago and have new friends who love running on tracks and go together for these amazing crazy challenges in the mountains. I found myself listening to them with great interest, even finding it fascinating. I totally get that doing something together, in nature, to push the body’s limits to new extremes can be exhilarating.
I just observed my own reaction from a distance… Me, running? yeah… right…
But then I swear, something super weird happened. As I went for my regular walk in the bush next to my house, I literally felt my feet and my legs itching to run. So I started… I ran and I ran for a good 20 min. It was going downhill mostly so it wasn’t hard. I just decided to walk back up, no need to have an objective, it was just for fun! I felt totally amazing for the rest of the day and decided to do it again.
That was nearly three weeks ago and since then I’ve been running almost every second day! I have improved already and still love it.
You might already have experienced the high that comes after a good physical practice. The body is happy and so is the mind. We feel proud of our self for having done it. The mind is generally quieter because we have had to focus on the physical practice so the chit chat had to slow down.
But even though we feel better, most of time, we won’t reach a real relaxation of the mind.
Consider what your physical practice is… If it’s running during lunchtime, mountain biking, boxing, Zumba or hitting the gym or even going to your yoga studio, chances are high that you have had to focus to follow the steps, to not get lost, not to slip or bump into other people etc. You most likely have chatted lots with other people as well, as often we exercise socially. It can just make us feel so good!
When I use to go in nature for a walk, every time, I would sit somewhere to close my eyes, meditate a little bit and say my prayers. It was one of the most enjoyable moments I experienced. I would contemplate the beauty of nature and allow my mind to be still, to be silent.
But I quickly realised that when I ran, that didn’t happen. Something was missing…
I often talk to people about the benefits of meditation because it’s wildly recognised now as the way to go to reduce stress, to sleep better, to find more happiness. Often, people who have never tried meditation before, or who say they have but they haven’t really, come with the quick answer ‘I’ve tried, it’s not for me’. Then they might add: ‘I run, it’s my meditation. It just is the same for me’.
I totally get what they say. It’s like doing a physical yoga practice. We are focused on the breath, on the movements, on the body. After the class, we feel relaxed and the mind’s restlessness is less intense. It’s totally what I feel too.
We think that’s the deal but really, it’s only the preparation for real meditation.
I see physical exercise as a fantastic way to slow our mind down. Yes, it does help hugely in feeling better and happier – so let’s keep doing that! But let’s not confuse everything ok?
It’s like giving someone raw cacao powder and having that person say ‘I so love this chocolate’ – No no no, it’s not the same! We can try hard to convince that person that chocolate is actually way better to eat than raw powder, if they never try, they will never know. They might have to try many chocolates before finding the one that will make them say “If only I had tried it before”!!!
Trying to meditate a couple of times then giving up is very easy to do. What’s challenging is to keep practising because results only come after a while. Try to get a six pack after a couple of gym sessions… Not gonna happen mate. So we easily get that we need to practise for a long period of time to see physical results but as soon as it comes to mind practice we give up. Where’s the real strength and will power there my friend?
You can do better than that! We all can! Practice is just practice, again and agin, the results show when they show, that’s all! And you will be surprised that’s it actually faster than you think it is, trust me on this one!
The brain wave that we are on when we exercise is not at all the same than the one we are on when we meditate. I would strongly encourage you to read this article (easy read) so you can understand what I mean : “How meditation changes your brain frequency” by Ashley Turner.
So what do to do then?
I still go for my run but at the end, I sit under the trees and contemplate nature around me. I allow my breath to slow down and then I close my eyes. I observe the stillness in my mind, and I rejoice that it is so much more peaceful than it was before my run. I observe thoughts coming and going without attaching to them. I am silent in the silence of the forest. I know I am sweaty and can’t stay there for long so I really make an effort to dedicate that time for my mind only, as I have just dedicated my time to make my body happier.
I might stay there 5 to 10 minutes, I don’t count, I don’t take my phone with me (yep, no tracking maps for me). I always finish with my prayers, thanking the forest for being there for me, the birds for singing their beautiful songs, the wind for caressing my body, the sun for shining. I thank God and my angels for being by my side, for blessing this moment with peace and grace. I ask them for their protection and for their help. I pray for my family and my friends. I show gratitude.
At times, I have tears of release coming to my eyes… I just feel so good and happy. My body is experiencing a physical transformation, so is my mind and so is my soul. The power of that instant is like a beautiful bomb of goodness, it explodes in millions of drops of happiness and fills me for the days to come.
I meditate after my yoga practise, at home.
If you exercise with friends, it will just never give you the peace of mind that you need and you won’t be able to sit in silence either. If you’re a social person, you will need to fit in some ‘me time’ exercises routine’ every now and then. It is actually not rude at all to run by yourself and be in your bubble at times. It’s called ‘recharging your batteries’. You will have to learn something new: to take time for yourself. Try it for a while, it’s awesome because our own self is actually pretty cool to hang out with;-)
I love my new hobby and I will see with detachment where it leads me. It is a gift, not a challenge with goals to achieve. I can keep treasuring it, keeping it my little secret.