Find your full potential
More and more runners are talking about meditation or ‘mindfulness’ (a simple form of meditation and awareness) and how to use it while training and racing.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an adventurous journey to the Source, the inner reality. By discovering your inner self, you can find unlimited inner potential, enabling you to go beyond physical and mental limits. When you learn the art of meditation, you can also develop awareness, intense will-power and inner peace. The inner peace, joy and happiness that one can experience through meditation can gradually become part and parcel of your outer reality.
Guided meditation exercise
The world we live in can sometimes be quite challenging. At times, we might be facing our own worries, anxieties or stress, which can be hard to overcome. The following guided meditation exercise offers a simple, yet very effective way to find peace, joy and happiness in daily life. Watch the video below:
“Meditation is like going to the bottom of the sea, where everything is calm and tranquil. On the surface there may be a multitude of waves, but the sea is not affected below. In its deepest depths, the sea is all silence. When we start meditating, first we try to reach our own inner existence – that is to say the bottom of the sea. Then, when the waves come from outside world, we are not affected. Fear, doubt, worry and all the earthly turmoils will just wash away, because inside us is solid peace. Thoughts cannot touch us, because our mind is all peace, all silence, all oneness.”
– Sri Chinmoy [Source]
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
If you meditate regularly you may see many positive benefits in your life, such as:
- The presence of inner peace, harmony and calmness
- Reduced stressed, tension and negative emotions
- Enhanced ability to concentrate
- Improved vitality and general well-being
- Developing confidence, poise and self-esteem
- Increased creativity
- Better life decisions
HOW CAN MEDITATION HELP RUNNING?
Meditation is a very powerful tool that runners can benefit from in many ways:
1. Increased power of concentration
Meditation helps to keep the mind tranquil and calm. In running (as with any other sports), when the mind is calm – i.e. not being distracted by hundreds of other thoughts – it is much easier to concentrate. Running requires focus: focus on pace, running technique, the body and performance. If while running we are thinking about work problems, being insecure about a lack of training, or thinking about competitors, then we cannot perform at our very best. So thanks to the power of concentration, you will be able to train better, run better and race better.
2. Strengthening will-power
What helps a good runner to become a better runner? It's will-power: will-power to get up early in the morning and do the training, while others are still sleeping; will-power not to take another piece of cake, because you know that an extra pound won't help you chase your PB. You can say that you either have will-power or you don't, but the good news is that through regular meditation practice you can develop and strengthen your will-power. This will-power can be of great benefit to runners of all abilities, whether it helps you to discipline your training routine, racing, your diet or sleeping regime.
3. Overcoming mental frustration
When running long distances, all kinds of frustrating thoughts can come and make us feel that what we are doing us useless or boring. But if you meditate before your run or early in the morning (ideally both) then the inner peace that you acquire will enter into you like a solid wall and will protect you from those unwelcome thoughts, or it will help you chase them away immediately. At the same time, during your running you will be able to bring to the fore the poise you received from your meditation and this poise will help you overcome any mental frustration or obsessive thoughts.
4. Enhancing strength and dynamism
In running we need energy, strength and dynamism. When we meditate, we make our mind peaceful and calm. When there is peace inside us, then we will be able to gain tremendous strength from our inner life. Yes, this is something that many people may not be aware of: if we have a moment of peace, it will come to us as a solid strength in our running, whereas if we are restless, we do not have strength like that.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING THROUGH VISUALISATION
The following visualisation and concentration techniques are inspired by meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy, as covered in his book The Inner Running and the Outer Running. Sri Chinmoy was a great athlete himself and a great advocate of running. He very much believed that running and meditation complement each other.
1. How to increase speed in running?
To a great extent, speed in running starts in the mind. Try to develop more imagination. Imagine that you are running fast and appreciate your speed. Then let the thrill and joy that you get from your imagination inundate you. This joy in itself will increase your speed. You can also think of some people who do really run fast and try to identify yourself with them.
2. How to cope with competitive spirit during races? How to maintain concentration throughout the whole race?
While you are competing, sometimes it is very difficult to enjoy the race. Either the competitive spirit or frustration is killing you or your body is not abiding to your mental will and you feel that you are literally dying. So many problems arise. So before the competition starts, meditate most soulfully for five minutes. Try to make yourself feel that you are not the competitor, but somebody else is running in and through you. You are only the witness, the spectator. Since somebody else is competing, you are at perfect liberty to watch and enjoy. So if before you start, you can convince yourself that you are a divine observer and somebody else is competing in you, through you and for you, then fear, doubt, frustration, anxiety and other negative forces will not be able to assail your mind.
3. How to keep enthusiasm when you start to get tired and exhausted during long distance running?
While running, do not think of yourself as twenty-five or thirty years old. Only think of yourself as six or seven years old child. At the age of six or seven, a child does not sit; he just runs here and there. So imagine the enthusiasm of a young child and identify yourself, not with the child, but with the source of his enthusiasm.
You could also try to identify yourself with several runners in front of you. Imagine how they are breathing in and out. While inhaling, feel you are inhaling their breath and that with it their energy. While exhaling, feel that they are all breathing out your exhaustion and negativity.
RUNNING MEDITATION QUOTES
All quotes by Sri Chinmoy:
Yes, I can!
I certainly can!
I can succeed
Where nobody else
Has dared to try.
* * *
You can easily challenge
The pride of frightening distance.
* * *
If we believe in our own
Then there can be no unreachable goal.
* * *
Do not enter
Into the world of comparison.
Just dare to better
Yourself every day
* * *
Life is velocity.
Therefore, I want to run fast, very fast.
* * *
In your heroic effort
Will permeate your mind and heart
Even after your success or failure
Is long forgotten.
* * *
Run and become.
Become and run.
Run to succeed in the outer world.
Become to proceed in the inner world.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it better to meditate before or after running?
In fact, the best is to meditate both before and after running. Before running you can meditate on inner peace so that discouraging, destructive and uncomely thoughts are not able to attack you and make you feel bored or frustrated. Meditation before your run will also increase your concentration power so that you can focus more on your speed, running technique and endurance. After running in your meditation you can offer your gratitude for being able to run or you can even dedicate this run to your friend, a family member or the whole world.
Can I meditate while running?
If you want the meditation to help your running, it is always advisable to concentrate rather than meditate while running. If you meditate, you may get great experiences, but this will not help your running performance. But if you concentrate, then you will be able to regulate your steps, your running technique and your performance. Then also, negative thoughts won't be able to affect you that much. And if you are not attacked by negative thoughts, then naturally you will be able to run faster.
What is the best meditation technique?
There is no one best technique – it depends entirely on the individual. In order to be able to meditate, the first and foremost task is to try to make the mind calm and quiet, and there are many techniques to help you achieve this. According to Sri Chinmoy, the most effective meditation technique is concentration on the heart. And here we are not talking of the muscle, but the spiritual heart which is located right in the centre of the chest.
- Many world class athletes have introduced meditation into their training, including one of the greatest track and field stars of all time – Carl Lewis. For more inspiration, see the book Sport and Meditation by Sri Chinmoy (below).
- Free meditation classes are offered by Sri Chinmoy Centres in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.