Hey, I Put Some New Shoes on and Suddenly Everything’s Right…

Earlier this summer I went for a long run on a sunny day, just after a rainfall. I had just bought an amazing new pair of running shoes.

It’s so easy to focus on the painful areas in your body when you’re running—your toes hurt, your midsole pinches, you feel that twang in your knee and the dull ache in your back. But on this day, I made it a point to bring my meditation practice into the run. Instead of letting my mind get pulled down the rabbit hole of thoughts—reliving old conversations, planning for the future, or having my mind’s attention land on the aching of my unconditioned legs–I simply held my focus on my lungs. I focused on filling them up, and on the feeling of air in my nose and mouth with each breath. I completely let go of my attention on my footfall, or anything to do with my legs at all. I held my head higher than usual, focusing my eyes on the distance and not on the road before me.

I began to feel buoyed up, almost floating, from my chest upwards. Each breath made me rise higher, expanding upwards from the top of my chest. The pain disappeared in my legs. They moved effortlessly, and my feet kind of took over, requiring no conscious attention whatsoever. All of this created an expansive feeling, like I was floating with the air, connected to my surroundings, instead of feeling the shock and thump of each footfall impact.

This is the same expansive, boundary-less experience that I often come across in meditation, where no thoughts are arising, and, even if they do, my mind is the silent witness to those thoughts. I see them from afar, as if they are a simple story line that floats along, disconnected from who I really am.  When in this state, it’s impossible to feel ‘stressed out.’ One is also less likely to feel any kind of pain, and, again, even if you do, it’s as though the pain is not who you are—it’s disconnected from you, unattached, but tolerable, and not necessarily ‘bad.’

Today, I married up my love of meditation with running. This is a whole new way of running for me. But then again, maybe it was just the new shoes.

7 Steps to Runner’s Zen

  • Focus your attention on the simple feeling of air rushing past your nostrils or through your mouth when breathing in. Count One.
  • Breathe out. Count Two.
  • If any thought arises in your mind to steal your attention, simply recognize it, and let it pass, and move back to your breath.
  • Don’t count your steps if you are running. Disregard your legs and feet altogether.
  • Focus only on counting your breaths, feeling your nostrils, and the expansive feeling in your chest when breathing in.
  • When breathing in, expand your lungs deeply, allowing this to pull you higher so you feel you are rising with each breath.
  • See how many breaths you can count before a thought steals your attention.

Enjoy your run, friends!

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Arise Chiropractic, Vernon BC

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