Running is said to be one of the most ancient sports that exists as it comes so naturally to the human form. Not many people think to run as it can seem like a pretty strenuous task but in actual fact scientists have discovered that running improves our general sense of wellbeing dramatically, not only that but it also helps us to stay young and youthful. It keeps us alert throughout the day and increases our potential to think fast, sleep tight and breathe easy! You may feel that running is the least spiritual thing you could possibly do, but interestingly many runners see the roads they race down as trails of worship for the universe, or trails of reflection and also a time where they can let their thoughts run wild and embrace the feeling of being alive and living.
Many athletes these days tap into a sensation called “Zen running” which is an oriental mystical practice (which connects to Buddhism). What tends to occur during Zen running is a heightened sense of awareness, similar to that experienced through meditation. This is where the runner feels completely free from mental pressures and focuses more on a strong feeling within themselves, which many refer to as our “deepest side “ or “deepest state of mind”. In order to reach this state of mind when you are out running on the roads you need to free yourself and forget about worry, in other words, (be completely free from conscious thoughts ) this is so you can fall deeply into your own natural rhythm of running.
When we challenge ourselves physically we become aware of just how magnificent the human body is, many of us don’t take this into account enough, but instead complain that our hips are too wide or that our stomachs are not flat enough, when in actual fact running helps to dissolve negative thinking, bringing us into focus, and leaving us with the feel good vibe. The beauty that running presents to us is the opportunity to escape and become part of nature and the world around us, as you connect with your own rhythm when you run you may begin to feel something that you haven’t done for a long time, an adrenaline rush, a blast of endorphins, or a physical jolt and relief as you let go of concerns and worries that have been holding you back.
As you run, you should try and grasp hold of the concept of your breath, feel the wind around you, listen to your feet as they shift up from the ground and back again, and pay attention to the simple pleasure of running, knowing that you can move so freely and creatively. It may also help to think about the positive side of life as you run too, imagining that you are letting go of each and everyone of your problems as you pace, remembering that you have nothing to lose.
Many runners that are aware of the spiritual sensations as they run also use meditation and visualisation techniques and have come to the realisation that by having control over the mind their sense of spirituality increases, which has been of huge benefit to their performance. After running, many also experience feelings and sensations of inner tranquillity and peace and this has also been described as a hugely spiritual experience where the mind opens and the soul rests, allowing ideas and creativity to flow. After a good work out, you should feel lighter with both your body and your mind which again increases the flow of spirituality.
A good example is, Sri Chinmoy
who is an author and Spiritual teacher. Sri was Born in 1931 and spent much of his early life in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community in southern India, where he was a running and decathlon champion for many years. When he moved to America in 1964, Sri Chinmoy actively encouraged his students and friends to combine the practice of meditation with a regular running routine.
In ‘The Outer Running and the Inner Running’, Sri Chinmoy writes;
“Our inner running definitely helps us in our outer running. Through prayer and meditation, we can develop intense will power, and this will power can help us do extremely well in our outer running. Meditation is stillness, calmness and quietness, while the running consciousness is all dynamism. Again, the runner’s outer speed has a special kind of poise or stillness at its very heart. An airplane travels very fast, yet inside the plane we feel no movement at all. It is all tranquility, all peace; and this inner tranquility we can bring to our outer life. In fact, the outer life, the outer movement, can be successful only when it comes from the inner poise. If there is no poise, then there can be no successful outer movement. Poise is an unseen power, and this unseen power is always ready to come to the aid of the outer runner…physical fitness and spirituality must go together. It is like having two legs. With one leg I cannot walk; I need two legs to reach the destination.”
Other runners have spoken about a feeling of simply being in touch with their bodies whilst running along with a feeling of liberation in the sense that there is no pressure to compete as Wilma Rudolph, an American athlete: quoted:
"I love the feeling of freedom in running, the fresh air, the feeling that the only person I'm competing with is me." Reading about other peoples’ experiences can help us to build a positive programme of what we personally would like to achieve with the outdoor world, whether it be jogging, sprinting or walking. Taking things little by little will also helps to create a healthy balance allowing us the time and space that we need in order to gain an overall sense of pleasure.
We don’t need to be an athlete to run or a professional trainer either, we just need to know that we can find inner peace and freedom through the connection and power of the human body. Taking time to appreciate just how capable your body is as an instrument that supports and aids you throughout your lifetime can work wonders. It may also give you a new found feeling of inner strength, vitality and wisdom as you take time to appreciate and admire your surroundings with nature. Many of us will undoubtedly gather a feeling of connectedness that we have never come to notice. If you are brave enough, running first thing in the morning is said to best time to alert the mind, body and soul.
Good luck and happy running!
With love and light x x x