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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Months ago, my friend Hannah made a comment along these lines: we were talking about the meditative qualities of running, and the fact that we both (mostly) like to do it alone. It got me thinking about the ways running is and is not like traditional meditation. I haven’t tried Headspace or any of the other meditation apps floating around the internet, but I can see how running bears some similarities to them.

When I run, I listen to music, but it’s usually stuff I know really well, or music that can fade comfortably into the background. Unless I’m actively singing along to Hamilton or other music, I want space for my thoughts to tumble and churn and slide as I go along. I don’t often go out on a run with the intent of solving a particular problem, but I naturally think about whatever’s taking up my attention that week, as well as the weather and the light and the signs of seasonal change (right now, all the gorgeous leaves) that I see.

Running is movement-based, of course, while many forms of meditation involve sitting still. I find it easier to let my attention relax when I’m moving through a landscape, easier to let my thoughts pinwheel around without having to move in a linear fashion. Sometimes I’ll get stuck on one thing for a bit, but more often the physical motion helps keep my thoughts in motion, too. A lot of yoga teachers talk about noticing your thoughts rather than getting attached to them – sometimes tough to do when lying on a yoga mat, but I find it a bit easier on a run.

Especially when I’m working – when my days involve emails, meetings, writing projects, chats with coworkers – I also relish the chance to step back from all that on a run. As I move through physical space, sometimes my thoughts come unstuck and drift away, creating space inside my head for new thoughts or simply a bit of breathing room. It’s physically challenging and mentally restorative. Not quite the same effect as a yoga class – and I need both – but a way to create and enjoy headspace, all the same.

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