Running from the heart is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities I know. Imagine, if you will, a run powered by the heart. The most basic level of this, accessible to anyone, is a run characterized by feelings of compassion and love. The advanced heart based runners live in a world where physical effort is powered by mindful focus on the heart- a world in which opening the heart directly results in running with greater ease and often faster paces.
So, how do we do this?
It starts with learning a simple compassion meditation. The form of this comes from Buddhism and has been adapted and used by many meditators and meditation instructors in the United States.
Start by finding a quiet, comfortable place. You can be sitting, laying down or even standing- whichever you prefer. Take a moment to focus on your breathing, on feeling the solidity of the earth underneath you. Allow yourself to soften and shift into a meditative state.
To discover and work with love and compassion, follow these basic steps. First, vividly think of those whom you love the most, and allow that love to build in your heart. Use whatever images, mental videos, thoughts, smells, sounds that foster love towards those you love the most. Allow your attention to rest upon your heart and chest overall.
ThIs meditation also typically has two other components, which I will offer here as option steps before continuing on to how to use this in running. Shifting from those whom you love the most, extend your compassion to those you feel more neutral about. Taking your time to go through these steps, consider those you may even actively dislike.
The advantages of these optional steps is the development of your compassion and love for all beings, which is an integral component of any honest path towards significant personal and spiritual development.
Now on to the final steps. See if you can even extend this love towards yourself. It may help to respond to yourself as you would those you love the most, as you would your own real (or imaginary) child. Allow yourself to feel the softest, most gentle love and understanding towards yourself.
Feel your heart swell and open as you go through these steps. Notice or imagine (sensations you pretend you have will be followed at some point by the felt sensation) your heart as a fountain of energy or love, rising out of the recesses of your being (and chest perhaps more practically) and flowing naturally out into the rest of your body and into the world around you.
If you have been doing this meditation, bring it gently to a close by bringing your attention back into the physical world, wriggling fingers and toes, and opening your eyes (if they were closed) when ready. Maintain a soft gaze and allow yourself to take some time to shift into the next activity you intend to do.
So when it comes to running, you can use either or both of these steps. You can either run doing the compassion meditation, which will provide a very open enjoyable frame of mind and body by extension.
And for those who wish to challenge themselves, add in the imagined or felt sensations of the heart as a fountain flowing out. Imagine this fountain as the source of your physical power, that as the fountain flows more openly and perhaps faster, your body too moves with greater ease and even speed.
When it comes to meditations, the softer more open state any meditation will naturally shift you into is the most important part. That state itself is 'the Zone". To run with meditations like these is to learn to trust the meditation and the process itself of running with it. To any doubt, pain, or frustration, the effective response is to simply turn back to the process of running itself and whatever technique(s) are being used.
So with that, I wish you all happy running!
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