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Running toward Mindfulness


medium_5090989604In hindsight, I now see that running was the first activity that put me in a state of mindfulness. I began to run when I was in my twenties. Everyone was doing it, and, having grown up as a chubby kid and still bearing the scars of feeling stigmatized by it, I thought running seemed a good way to stay fit.

It wasn’t long before I was running six days a week, and now, more than forty years later, I’m still doing it. Traditionally, running isn’t thought of as a meditative practice, but for me it has been. I’ve found that running creates the space for mindfulness by focusing my mind on the present and disengaging me from my machinery. When I run, I can’t keep a train of thought for more than a few seconds. My mental chatter starts to flit from thing to thing, and eventually dissolves so that I become fully absorbed in what I am experiencing in the moment: seeing the trees by the roadside and the cars speeding by; the feel of the breeze on my skin, my body sweating; the muscles in my legs tensing and relaxing as I raise and lower my legs to run; my feet pounding the grassy path beneath them; my lungs expanding as they fill with air and contracting as I expel it, the air I breathe cool and clean in winter and warm and sweet in the summer.

All in all, the net result is that the act of running frees up the stranglehold of my machinery’s past-based agendas, allowing me to be mindful of experiencing running in the moment.


An excerpt from my recent book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, now available at Amazon.

photo credit: Phil Roeder via photopin cc

  • 22 Dec, 2014
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 8 Tags

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