Use Shambhala Meditation to Improve Running

Shambhala meditation is a simple meditation practice that can easily be used as a mental strength training method while running. It is a simplified version among the many Buddhist meditation techniques. This meditation technique in its basic practice consists of simply:  relaxing, noticing the breath, letting go of thoughts, and just quietly being present to yourself.  Learn how to tame your wild horse (quieten your mind) with this simple practice that you can use during running to develop mental strength. 

Shambhala International is a large global organization with many centers around the world.  It was founded by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, and it is currently directed by his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who is an avid runner and has completed numerous marathons!

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Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche believes that it is important to build strength in both the mind and the body. When he first began to run, he discovered that he needed to apply similar principles to running that he did while practicing Shambhala Meditation. This seemed very natural to him as meditating is training the mind and running is training the body. To fully embrace the experience of running, it was necessary for him to bring the mind and body together as one.

In Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's book, Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind, he shares basic meditation instruction and principles he has developed to help him train for and complete over nine marathons. The lessons included help  integrate the internal practice of meditation with the physical movement of running for the purpose of enhancing both. These lessons help train the mind and body to live a more enhanced way of life with more energy, focus, patience, peace and contentment. 

The following quote from his book helps us understand why we feel so good immediately after running and how meditation can help us continue to feel increasing better long after the run is finished. 

"So the clarity and peace of mind we feel after running is mostly because the wild horse is tired, not necessarily because it has been tamed. The mental clarity brought about by physical exercise is temporary. When the horse has more energy, it resumes running around. Then we have to go for another run, exhausting the mind again. Using running as a way to train the mind is incidental, whereas the peace and clarity that come from meditation are cumulative."

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Become a Better Runner with Shambhala Meditation

Shambhala is a Sanskrit word meaning “the place of tranquility.” In general terms, Shambhala can be interpreted as a kingdom of the mind and a meditation practice for which a human being can live a normal life and practice spirituality. It is the notion that one can have a family, a job, do all these things, including running, and can still deepen and meditate and understand. Shambhala meditation and its teachings were inspired by the ancient, legendary society of the Kingdom of Shambhala.  

Shambhala Meditation for Running

With a meditative practice, our mind becomes stronger and helps us overcome obstacles more easily. It can help us get through the physically challenging parts of running. We become more aware of what we are thinking about while running and how it affects our running. Meditative running helps us enjoy running more as we strengthen our mind and our awareness.

A breathing meditation is the most common technique of all meditation practices including Shambhala Meditation. Because our breath is more rapid while running, it is easier to focus on. This gives us a easy opportunity to practice a breathing meditation.

“Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have so we might as well work with it rather than struggling against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy.”

~ Pema Chödrön, Shambhala Teacher

Why not try meditative running on your next run? You can begin by setting an intention to let go of all thoughts and distractions. Keep your awareness on your immediate physical experience. Focus on your breath, each foot strike you make, or the path in front of you. Acknowledge any thoughts and return your focus to your breath. Become aware of all sensations, thoughts and the environment that is all around you.

If you feel pain, allow the sensation. Accept pain and breathe. Practice non-resistance and acceptance of what is. Go easy on yourself. As you develop more control of your thoughts, you be able to notice each thought and let it go. You will not become attached to what is not real. A stronger mind makes a better runner and a happier person.


Shambhala Meditation

Related links:

Deal with Running Pain

Guided Running Meditation

Dealing with Chronic Pain Through Meditation

Mindful Running 

Inner Body Awareness

Vipassana Meditation

Benefits of Meditation

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