Integrative Nutrition Blog

Need Help Meditating? Try Running

June 19, 2015

Image via Shutterstock

We’re in a major meditation moment these days. Although meditation has been around for thousands of years, lately it seems to be what everyone’s talking about and trying to do to feel healthier and calmer.

But with so many things on the daily to do list, who has the time? Are you one of those busy people with no time to meditate?

Here's a way to multi-task: Make your life meditative, especially your exercise. The actual goal of meditation is to feel calm, not to sit still necessarily. 

Running is one of the best ways to be meditative. No, it’s not traditional meditation and the benefits aren’t exactly the same, but meditative running could change your life.  

Here’s how to make your running meditative: 

Set an intention. When you decide how you want to feel during and after your run and what your goal is, your experience will be much more fulfilling.

Maybe your goal is to clear your mind, feel energized, less stressed, or all of the above. Set a clear intention before you set out on your run and it will feel like a calming meditation. 

Don’t listen to music, unless its only instrumentals and very soothing or invigorating. Music is awesome, but when you want your running to be a form of meditation, the words and energy of vocals can be overstimulating and distract you from your mind.

The point of meditation is to clear your mind of thoughts as much as possible, and listening to music often makes you think a lot as you listen to the lyrics. Instrumentals calm the nervous system and reduce the stress response, so they’re fantastic if running is your meditation. 

Take a survey of your body. As you run, scan your body mentally and notice how each part feels. Where are you holding tension? Maybe even in your mind? Think outside the box. Wherever you feel tension, mentally let it go and keep moving. 

Breathe deeply. By breathing deeply throughout your run, you further calm your nervous system and naturally detoxify your body.

We often forget to breathe throughout the day, so meditation and exercise is an awesome time to really breathe deeply and bring oxygen to all your organs and especially your brain. Just deep breathing in itself can be a form of meditation, and when you combine it with running you’ll feel more calm and present than ever. 

Try interval training. Interval training calms the nervous system, reduces stress, and clears the mind very effectively because you go from walking to running at a fast tempo. Try running fast for one minute then jogging slow for two minutes and repeat.

Many fitness experts believe that these spurts are more effective than single-pace long-distance running because the repetitiveness of distance running engages the body’s stress response and increases the hormone cortisol which makes us more anxious and causes the body to store fat around the belly. 

Running in itself reduces anxiety, drains the lymphatic system, improves circulation, boosts skin health, supports weight loss, improves adrenal health, and increases happiness. Make it into a meditation and you end up with a full mind-body exercise. 

When your body is healthy, happy and balanced you reach a meditative state. You feel clear and open rather than weighed down by anxiety, excess weight, and/or other health issues. 

As much of the time as you can, take on a meditative state by remaining calm and breathing no matter what’s going on around you.  It might sound counter-intuitive, but it will actually help you be more productive, successful, happy, and healthy. 

Everyone wants to feel awesome, right? Are you a runner? Or a meditator? Would you try running as meditation?

Share in the comments below. 

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