Cool Runnings: Nourish Yourself with a Running Meditation

I love running in the fall!  Running in the autumn reminds us to let go and simply enjoy our company as we breath in & out.  Whether out on the city pavement or on a trail in the woods, autumn encourages us to break loose.  These cool, sunny days inspire us to leave all our worries for a while and enjoy going wherever our bodies take us, at whatever speed, for whatever distance.  Most importantly, running in the fall reminds us that running, or any other physical activity, is all about celebrating our bodies, our breath, & the magnificence of being alive. Autumn beckons us to nurture ourselves through movement so that we can compassionately embrace who we are in the present moment—not someone x lbs lighter, or x years younger, or more “athletic.”  Autumn’s chill breeze screams: “You are good enough!  Just enjoy!”

In honor of this special time of year—a time attributed to embracing change as we pass through life’s many stages—is a simple moving-meditation technique to help you find bliss on those running paths.  This moving-meditation can be applied to running, walking, hiking, cross country skiing or any other outdoor activity that speaks to your soul!  Please remember that yoga teaches that we learn best from our own experience.  Have fun experimenting with those elements that resonate for you and kindly disregard those that do not.  Happy running!

Running Meditation:

~Running at a comfortable pace, begin by bringing your focus to your breath.

~Notice the smooth, rhythmic inhale & exhale.  Allow any thoughts & feelings to gently come & go as you settle your mind on your breathing.

~Take a moment to feel grateful for your breath, noticing the refreshing feel of the air as it enters your lungs, filling your body with nourishing oxygen, and expelling unneeded CO2 on the exhale.

~Remind yourself that there is no need to change the pace of your breath, simply become aware of its natural rhythm, allowing its rhythm to soothe your mind.

~Notice your body’s amazing ability to nurture itself without conscious effort.

~Once you feel comfortable in focusing on your running breath, expand your awareness to the air around you.

~Notice how the air feels—is it cool? Damp? Dry? Refreshing?

~On your next inhale, imagine this air entering your body from the center of your chest (at your Fourth Chakra: The Heart Center).

~Envision the air gently filling your chest, lungs, and circulatory system.  As it does so, imagine your body becoming more expansive and light as the air gently clears your body of any stale emotions, physical sensations, or troublesome thoughts.

~At this point, it may feel nice to imagine the air softening your muscles (particularly your neck, shoulder, & jaw).  If you feel anxious or stressed you can also imagine the air opening & softening your veins, arteries, & heart—allowing your heart to calm & feel safe.

~On your exhale, focus on letting go of whatever tension you were holding (mentally, emotionally, and/or physically).  To heighten the feeling of letting go soften your shoulders and jaw as you bring a soft smile to your face.

~Repeat this visualization of inhaling to create lightness and exhaling to let go of unneeded tension for as long as feels pleasant.

~If at any time you feel uncomfortable, simply let go of the visualization and come back to your breath or focus on your surroundings.

~When you feel thoroughly bliss-filled, gently bring your mind back to the natural rhythm of your breathing.

~Take a moment to thank yourself for nourishing & celebrating your body through movement and meditation.

~Smile (because you deserve it and so does the world!)

**Special Note: To deepen the experience of openness & joy, end this meditation by running for a short distance with your eyes closed (ONLY ATTEMPT WHERE APPROPRIATE: NO RUSH-HOUR ROADSIDE RUNNING HERE!).  At the same time, open your arms wide, allowing the wind to rush over your body.  Bask in this moment of complete abandon & indulge in the sensation of completely letting go!

This is just one example of an uplifting moving-meditation.  What moves you to a state of utter joy?  I would love to know!

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