I Finally Understand Meditation–I Just Call It “Running”

meditation running

Remember when I was trying to figure out meditation? Turns out, it’s kind of really hard. And it’s especially difficult for me because I have a racing mind and, on any given day, about a quadrillion things I want to get done and never enough time to do them. But somewhere in the middle of a long run a few weeks ago, I realized something: Meditation is just thinking deeply and practicing mindfulness, right? If that’s the case, I meditate a few times a week–it’s just that I’m not sitting in a chair, I’m on a treadmill or a trail. Running is my meditation.

In my quest to understand meditation, I did some research. I checked out the definition of the word (“to think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time”). I listened to a guided meditation podcast. I read a lot of articles. I even took that class. But none of it really…clicked. What is so great about this? Am I doing it wrong? Am I incapable of meditation?

Because as I sat in a chair for approximately two hours while a man alternately explained how to meditate, and then gave us time to try it out, I felt completely out of my element. I was so antsy and full of additional bodily energy that it was hard for me to focus on anything other than my restless legs. But when I’m running, I’ve got a clear mind. No racing thoughts. No wiggly limbs. Just an hour of complete focus on my body, my form, and, frequently, the sound of my own feet.

I think being mindful and taking time out for deep thought is pretty important in our go-go-go society. But I also think that for some people, sitting a straight-backed chair in total stillness just doesn’t lend itself to achieving heightened awareness. So I’ve decided to be OK with being a person who doesn’t really get much from seated, quiet-time meditation–and instead, be a person who embraces running not only for the physical benefits, but the mental ones, too.

Image via lululemon athletica 

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    • Rose D.

      Yup! My whole family meditates, the sitting quietly kind, and they were always so frustrated that I couldn’t get the hang of it. Then I started running. It is the only time of the day that I am totally focused on my breathing, without the crazy racing thoughts. When I get frustrated and angry now, my husband tells me to go run it out, and come home with a clear mind. Glad I am not the only one who feels this way!

    • Bliss

      I’m a runner and meditation coach. I love my zone when I’m running, but the two are very different and produce very different results. We’ve spent a lifetime moving, hence it’s hard to be still. Think about it, being still requires nothing, running requires great energy. Stillness is where all the peace and understanding we seek resides. It takes a trained coach and practice to help get over the hump. I hope you practice both, meditation isn’t deep thinking. Much peace.

    • woo

      I find it way easier to meditate after I’ve done a gruelling workout. I get all the fidgets out and then focus on the stillness once my body has had its turn. Maybe try a minute of stillness, or even 30 seconds, after a run? I had difficulty with meditation too at first, a lot!! But now I really need that processing time after my workout/stretching/smoothie :)