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  • Writer's pictureMichal George

How is long distance running supportive of developing mindfulness?

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

I’m training for a marathon. It is also a fundraising initiative called HeartMindRun. On October 18, I will attempt 42.2km along some mountain trails above Cape Town. So I’m wondering about the relationship between mindfulness and running, or whether any themes from the psychological aspects of what one might call personal development, relate to endurance sports.

One word: patience. Patience to train: patience to not overtrain; patience to rest; patience to grow. Another word: trust: trust the process; trust your body; trust your heart.

More words . . .

There is something about running, and especially mountain or trail running, that always reminds me of a mindfulness-stimulating practice called walking meditation. To be mindful of every step. To give oneself to just this foot landing in this particular way. Here. Not necessarily there, where you would like to step, but right here. Here and now. To walk as Thich Nhat Hanh proposes: “as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

In the Zen tradition walking meditation is typically done around and around following the circular outline of the meditation hall or a room — aimless wondering intended to settle the mind. In October I’ll be doing 5 laps around the 8.5km Lion’s Head and Signal Hill trail route. Breathing in, breathing out. The mountain will be my zendo, the ocean my witness. One step, and then another. Left and right. Just this. This.

“Having no destination, I am never lost.” says Ikkyu. The words fall away. A smile at the heart, is what I feel.

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