Body Meditation – Running to Ease the Stress
September 1, 2009  |  Mental Training

To relieve the stress of a tiring day, a form of meditation, body meditation, will help your running in the long run. After a long day of getting the kids ready for school, working you @$$ off at work and coming home to, well…more work, there needs to be an outlet to reduce all the stress. This is why there are so many people who love running. After a long day of activities, they can go for a run to meditate by reflecting on their day.

August 15th 2008 - Crispyphoto credit: Stephen Poff

You can look back on your day and ask – what were the highlights of the day? victories? losses? regrets? situations to learn from? When you run, you pump more oxygen throughout your body especially the brain. With more oxygen in your brain, the brain performs at its best which is the perfect time for you to clear your mind and get yourself refreshed for tomorrow.

If you have never went out for a run like this, I hope you experience what thousands of runners feel daily to refresh themselves physically, emotionally as well as spiritually. To meditate, you must be aware while running.

Awareness While Running

This is easier said than done. Focus on body sensing (a concept from ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running) which really means to interpret the signals your body is hinting at as you’re running and making the right adjustments to relieve any stress or pain. Body sensing alone takes discipline and practice. But sensing the signals of your body isn’t the only thing I want you to be aware of to run for meditation.  There are two components that I want you to focus on when running to meditate: internal environment and external environment.

Internal Environment

Being consciously aware of your body alone will begin to make your running feel effortless. Ask yourself: have you ever been aware of where you are running, the feeling of the ground/trail you’re running on, the awareness of your aches and pains in your body and even the taste in your mouth? It might be a weird question but think about it. Even right now, you’re sitting in front of your desktop/laptop reading this but do you feel the sensations in your body? Do you feel the tingling sensation in your feet? Or an ache in your neck?

I have practiced conditioning myself to be aware of these feelings and instantly, I feel as if I have more control in my results in terms of distance, the intensity I run at and how I feel at the end of the run. I am nowhere close to mastering the awareness of my internal environment but I encourage you to do become aware and feel the effect it has on your running in the long-term. On your next run, start running and start focusing on your body: what sensations do you feel in your body?

External Environment

After you are consciously aware of your body and all the sensations, now take it another step to become aware of what’s around you? Have you ever been of aware of what is around you in terms of lights, types of homes, the different people, and the path you’re running on? What do you hear? What other sounds are there in your running environment? What scents do you smell in the air?

When you become more aware of what’s around you, you will find that you become more agile and receptive to any changes or obstacles you face while running. I noticed that I would recover much faster from a misstep or prevent it completely when I’m aware of my environment. Once you are mentally grounded and completely aware of what’s around you, you’ll feel as if running has changed for the better.

Each one of those questions are small components of creating awareness that might not have such a drastic impact alone but when those question are compounded and they work together, they have a noticeable effect that will benefit the quality of your training which will translate into your results on race day.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Next time you go out on your run, learn to be more aware of your internal and external environment. Focus on these five questions at 4-5 minute intervals:

  1. What kind of sensations do I feel in my body?
  2. What sounds do I hear other than my own running?
  3. What do I see around me?
  4. What taste do I have in my mouth?
  5. What kinds of scents (smell) are there around me?

A Buddha in the Rainphoto credit: h.koppdelaney

By going through the five senses, you become aware of your internal and external environment and run much more comfortably. Also, for those runners who are experienced with marathons, after becoming more aware of your environments, I’m sure that your training sessions will be much more effective in terms of what you will learn about your running habits, the good and the bad, and what you can do to make the bad habits into positive ones.

PS: Practice meditative running on your next run and come back to tell us what you experienced :)

To relieve the stress of a tiring day, a form of meditation, body meditation, will help your running in the long run.


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  • Sarah

    I tried just focusing on my “internal” environment today and I really felt focused. It was weird that I could feel where my body hurt much more than I ever could. Like, I knew I had a pain on the right side of my neck but today, I was able to control it and kind of move it away so it doesn’t bother me.

    Over the next couple of weeks, I ‘m going to keep testing this and I will let you know how it goes

  • Nehal

    I look forward to it Sarah!

  • Anu Shastry

    Hi Nehal,

    i accidentally bumped onto your site and am enjoying the read. i have always felt /heard/inhaled alot more than the people around me and my husband said i was picky. I am glad i can put this to good use now.

    I am a newbie runner – training for a february marathon (in auroville, INdia) and i will follow the bits i pick up her. Perhaps we can run into each other (pun intended) when i am in Canada next.

    later, a

  • Nehal

    Hey Anu,

    I’m glad you found this blog useful!

    It’s important for you to realize that we live in a time where information is freely around us and it’s very easy to get sidetracked. If there are issues you’re having with specific components of running such as finding the right shoe, focus on that concern only.

    I wish you the best of luck on your marathon! lol, I’ll see you when I see you :)