More people turn to running not only for the physical exercises and health and fitness benefits it provides, but as a way to reduce the stress and clear their minds from their everyday problems and worries. Meditation during running is becoming more popular with the increasingly stressful lives we lead. Trail running is an even better time to practice your mindfulness and to meditate. The most obvious form of meditating when running is to turn off all distracting thoughts and focus entirely on your breathing and your running performance. With some practice, you can learn how to switch off all negative and side thoughts and look only into your inner self during your trail run. This is an excellent stress and anxiety reduction method, which is why more doctors and psychologists prescribe regular exercise and running for people who suffer from mild anxiety and depression, or who feel burned out and stressed.
There are now hundreds of meditation guided running, spinning and workout classes, as well as a wide variety of meditation apps, audio books and other guides to help you learn how to meditate while you are working out.
If you are new to meditation while trail running, here are the basic guidelines you need to know in order to get started and learn how to do it properly, so that you fight off the stress and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression which are plaguing a growing number of the western civilization in modern times:
- Pay close attention to your breathing
According to many meditating runners, the main skill you should master in order to learn to run and meditate properly is to learn how to focus on your own breathing. Most runners pay close attention to their breathing anyway, so this shouldn’t be so difficult for newbies in meditation who are runners. The key is to turn your entire focus on your breathing, and thus shut out any stressful and distracting thoughts while you are running on your trail. The mind will be too busy taking note of each breath you take, rather than wander in the past or in the future. This will allow you to be able to focus solely on the now. Learning this technique will not only free your mind from the stress and anxiety but will also allow you to achieve a more rhythmic breathing and alongside it – a more rhythmic running experience. This will help keep your body and mind steady during your run. But keep in mind that doing this while running on a flat route is way easier than when you are trail running. Trails can hand us numerous obstacles, uneven area and other distractions along the way, so it may take more time to learn to focus only on your breathing and shun out all distractions when running on a trail. But with practice and persistence, you will be able to learn to do it, and then you will see what an amazing experience meditation during trail running really is!
- Be fully aware of your body
Apart from paying very close attention to your breathing, you should also learn to be conscious of each and every part of your body during the trail run. You should be able to “scan” your entire body starting from the toes of your feet and reaching to the hair on your head if you want to achieve all the benefits of meditating while running. Being aware of every single sensation which each part of your body feels is essential for mastering the art of trail running meditation. If you feel soreness and pain in your feet or legs, you can learn to “ask” your mind to remain resilient to the urge to stop running. This will help you go on, no matter how steep and uneven the trail of your choice is. Ultimately, focusing on your body will help your running performance immensely too!
- Connect with the nature surrounding you
While your mind is focused on your breathing and your body, don’t forget to take the time to look outward to see the nature surrounding you. Trail running usually is done in amazing natural scenery, so make sure you don’t miss the beauty surrounding you while you are running. Being among natural settings, I the forest or the mountain has proven to have positive effect on the mental health and the mood. If you are able to learn to truly appreciate all the small and big wonders which Mother Nature has in store for us, you will come back from that trail run a much happier, more satisfied and energized person!
- Take note of all the sounds, sights and smells around you
You will learn to become one with nature once you learn how to open all your senses to the surrounding sights, sounds and smells which it offers us. This increased sensitivity will allow you to become even more closely connected to nature during your trail run. Smells alone can help alleviate stress and help a wide number of health problems. No wonder aromatherapy has become so widespread in modern times. When you are out on the trail you have the unique chance to fully enjoy all those natural smells, sounds and sights around you if you open your mind and senses completely to them.
Still not sure it’s worth it?
If you are still skeptical about being able to meditate during your regular trail runs, you should at least try attempting to work on one or more of these basic techniques. If you are able to clear out your mind and focus on your performance and on the beauty of the nature surrounding you instead of the work and daily problems you are faced with, you will find that you will have a much more satisfying experience, hopefully filled with mindfulness.
Even if you are not depressed, stressed or suffer from anxiety, learning meditation techniques when running will help you relax your mind and at the same time will improve your performance, as you learn how to pay closer attention to what your body is doing and how it is feeling on the trail. You will also feel the sense of oneness with nature which we often dismiss when we are outdoors running. Combined, these new sensations and experiences will bring more happiness to your life! Why not combine doing what you love with this excellent method of reaching utter calmness and relaxed while performing strenuous physical exercise? Try it next time you put your running shoes on and hit the trail – it is definitely worth it!