Running as Meditation

Running as Meditation
“Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach."

- Dr. George Sheehan, The Philosopher of Running

When asked when I started meditating, I always refer to when I began running about 12 years ago. With each run, I felt recharged, balanced, and ready to face whatever came my way. At the time, I had no idea what meditation was, but I knew running felt really good for many reasons. I considered it my therapy.

I got addicted quite quickly, and with this addiction came many injuries. I pushed myself beyond limits, and did not think I could have a sane life without running. Injury after injury, I eventually accepted that I had to let it go, and perhaps there was something else waiting for me.

The Catalyst for Self-Exploration

Looking back today, running was the catalyst to my sacred journey of self-exploration. What do meditation and running have in common?

  • One is physical
  • The other is sedentary
  • Both require patience, determination, consistency, and practice

The Benefits of Running and Meditation

The other thing that running and meditation have in common is that they both offer a host of physical and psychological benefits. Here are a few more positives that running and meditation have in common:

  • Both produce the feel-good chemicals, or endorphins
  • A tranquil mind usually follows each run or meditation because we are nourished from within
  • Irritation, fear, and stress are often purified after a run or meditation
  • Self- confidence to overcome limitations and break down barriers are often gained from both activities
  • Present moment awareness is promoted, which allows us to be more conscious of what nourishes us and let go of what does not serve us
  • Both practices can teach us to let go of thoughts so we avoid drama
  • Scientific studies have researched and proven the physical and psychological benefits of both practices
With running, we call it being in the zone; with meditation it is the gap. In both, it’s that place where we are flowing through our experience. Our mind is calm, our body is relaxed, and our breath is effortless. We connect to the space between our thoughts, the space where every thought arises. It is a space of pure potential that we bring back with us after our run and meditation.

Our meditation practice is an extension of who we are. My favorite routine is to put some music on, run to the park, connect with nature, meditate, and run back home. There is a sense of confidence coupled with clarity and peace that allows me to face life with faith, optimism, and passion.

Dr. George Sheehan writes in my favorite essay, “Why do I run”:

“So, I run each day to preserve the self I attained the day before. And coupled with this is the desire to secure the self yet to be. There can be no let up. If I do not run I will eventually lose all I have gained-and my future with it.”

I can now replace “running” with “meditation,” and the quote still resonates. My practice is now a balance of both and fits into my life perfectly.