A loving kindness meditation will help you feel happier, more positive and motivated. There are lots of studies to prove its effectiveness and we can do this meditation while running!
A lot of people say that meditation is not for them, even though they know it would greatly increase the quality of their lives in so many ways. They say it is too difficult or they don't have the time.
A loving kindness meditation (LKM) feels easier for most people as it evokes our natural, basic emotions of compassion, kindness and empathy. It has an immediate and positive effect on our emotions. It helps us see ourselves and others in a more positive way and the effects are long lasting.
Runners are generally happy positive people, but we do tend to criticize ourselves and our running performances from time to time. This can lead to periods of slight depression, resulting in low motivation, lack of energy and possibly injuries.
The human brain is wired to dwell on negative experiences—much more than on positive experiences. Psychologists refer to this as 'negative bias'. When you hear good news and bad news, which one do you think about the most? If focusing on negative aspects becomes a regular habit, it will have an adverse effect on our mood and our motivation.
But it doesn't have to be this way. With the help of LKM we can train our minds and change the direction of our thoughts.
LKM helps us feel better and focus on the more positive, uplifting aspects of our lives and accomplishments. It helps us learn to better understand ourselves and how we relate to others.
In recent years there has been a vast amount of research and studies on the effects of a loving kindness meditation on our emotional well-being.
A study conducted in 2014 on the effects of a LKM programme on self-critical individuals showed significant reductions in self-criticism and depressive symptoms and significant increases in self-compassion and positive emotions. A follow-up showed the gains were maintained three months post-intervention.
As we learn to approach relationships with a habit of kindness, we increase our social connection and our sense of positivity towards others. We feel less socially isolated and depressive symptoms decrease. Our positive emotions increase as well as our satisfaction with life.
The Insight Timer app is a great resource for various loving kindness sitting meditations. However, if you would like to practice this meditation while running, try our Guided Loving Kindness Meditation for Running.
A loving kindness meditation has also been shown to improve our physical health. Results include: better nervous system health, decreased inflammation, and lesser pain and emotional tension.
It has also been shown to slow biological aging. A study was conducted in 2013 on the effects of LKM on telomere length, a biological marker of aging. It compared the length of this age-marker chromosome in women with experience in LKM against age-matched controls. Results showed that these women had relatively longer telomere lengths than the controls. Shorter telomeres have been linked to chronic stress and accelerated aging.
A LKM practice can significantly improve our mood, health and relationships. It works with our emotions so we feel good very quickly. LKM is possibly the most effective self-practice for increasing compassion, self-compassion and positive emotions. An attitude of good will towards ourselves and others can make us happier and who doesn't want to be happier?
And a happy runner is an injury free runner!
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