Here are 5 ways running practice has become a part of my spiritual practice.
1. IT BRINGS ME JOY
As a teenager, I ran track. I was a sprinter, and loathed the longer runs. Usually, after so many drills, my lungs would decide they’d had enough and I would have an asthma attack. It never came with any other form of exercise (I was also a dancer, often dancing 4-5 days/week).
The only other time the asthma would come up was when I was laughing uncontrollably. It hadn’t happened in years, and I never thought much of it until recently. I was playing with my kids and my son and I were being so goofy I could not stop laughing. Until my lungs said enough. And I realized that my body was trying to stop me from feeling too much joy.
Whoa. As a healer, I work with beliefs that we hold on our DNA, and keep us in our patterns – physically, emotionally or spiritually. My lungs were still holding grief from almost 30 years ago, and trying to tell me that anytime I pushed them to receive more life. After clearing the old beliefs and stuck energy through a healing session, I realized I needed to exercise my lungs.
So now, as I run I think, “I am making more space to receive more joy”. It works.
2. IT REMINDS ME TO BE PATIENT
Patience has definitely not been a particular strength of mine. And I had a tendency when I started running to go as fast as I can so I could be done. But then I would need to walk more, and it never worked out all that well. Running reminds me to be where I am. And accepting myself at exactly the pace I am. As someone who can be a professional at beating myself up, it’s really helpful to have all the reminders I can get that I’m great right now.
“I am at peace just where I am”.
3. IT HELPS MY NERVOUS SYSTEM
I’m lucky to have a park about a half mile away, with a worn trail in the grass. Running on dirt is a great connection to the earth, and supports my nervous system in a place where there isn’t a lot of nature, and my nervous system wants to freak out. Connecting with nature counteracts the stress response and is calming for the nervous system. I think about connecting deep into the earth while I’m running, and I can feel the connections being made throughout my cells.
Plus, the whole “runner’s high” thing is real. Not only am I getting the endorphins that make me giddy, but it also raises the neurotransmitter serotonin, associated with depression. As someone who deals with depression, this is fabulous.
4. IT GETS ME MOTIVATED
Speaking of depression, motivation can come to a standstill if I’m not careful. It’s easy for life to become routine, and somewhat stagnant energetically. Moving my body breaks up the stagnant, and allows new life and new ideas to move through me. Getting my body moving keeps me moving throughout my day. I have more energy and more inspiration. It’s better than coffee!
5. IT REMINDS ME TO BE GRATEFUL
When I run, sometimes I’m astounded by my body that I am gifted with. The way it works without me having to even think about it. The fact that all sorts of neurotransmitters are released so that I can feel good. I mean, really. It wants me to feel good. We have this time here, that is a blink of an eye. It’s easy to get lost in the fine details of work and relationships, but when we bring our heads up and look around, life is truly amazing. Feeling how, by running, my body responds by making me stronger and more motivated and happier, the only appropriate response is one of gratitude.
“My body is a gift and wants me to feel amazing”.