Meditation can be cultivated in many ways. Some choose to light a candle, while others chant or repeat mantras. Others find that incorporating a meditation practice into their extracurricular activities not only gives them an excuse to meditate, but it actually helps to enhance their practice.
Becky Striepe pens this recent Care 2 post on long distance running as a practical form of meditation. According to Striepe, long distance running is all about finding the sweet spot. A combination of stride, breath, and mental conditioning, much in the same way meditators need to get into the right mindset in order to drop in, so to do runners need to cultivate meditation in order to be good at what they do.
Striepe offers the below exercise on how to practice long distance running meditation:
How to Achieve Distance Running Meditation
There was an episode of Radiolab recently where they interviewed an ultra-marathon runner who talked about the rhythm of your stride and your breath. She described it as “poetry,” and I think that’s just about right.
To get to that sweet spot, the key is to shut everything out of your head and focus on your breath coming in and out and your feet as they hit the pavement. What the ultra runner talked about, and what’s worked for me and my partner, is a double inhale and exhale, paired with two strides. It works like this:
- As your foot hits the ground, you take a short breath in.
- The next time your foot makes contact with the pavement, take another short breath.
- Take another step and breathe out.
- Take one more step and breathe out again.
- Keep this rhythm going, breathing in and out and focusing on your stride and let other thoughts fall away.
You don’t want to count your steps or your breaths. Just breathe. In, in. Out, out. Step, step. Step, step. Before you know it, your mind will be quieter, and you’ll have found your rhythm.
Read more from Striepe on long distance running as meditation here.