Spiritual running does not include any religious practices or disciplines. It is a practical approach to running which focuses on training the mind. It can add a tremendous amount of enjoyment to our running experiences and enhance our spirituality at the same time.
The goal of spiritual running is to help us feel connected with our inner self—the divine being within and allow ourselves to experience joyous, peaceful and uplifting runs. Spiritual running can help us reaffirm that we are spiritual beings (not just bodies) while also improving the quality of our runs.
Running is a solitary activity. Even if we run with others, we still need to perform it individually. It is both physically and mentally demanding and it can be monotonous at times. To keep going during difficult periods, we need to reach deep within ourselves for strength and willpower to keep going.
So what is this thing within us that we reach to for strength? We know that we have an inner strength but we don't really understand what it is. Running provides us with multiple opportunities to connect with and draw on our inner being, our center, our connection to our true self.
Running helps us to recognize that we are more than just a body. Spiritual running is about developing this awareness by deliberately connecting to our inner self and finding all the joy and peace that is present there.
The quality of our runs depends on what we choose to be. We can choose to be either a body or a spiritual being using our mind. When we choose to identify solely with our physical body, we choose to limit ourselves which can cause us to suffer.
When we choose to identify with spirit, we can experience more enjoyable and enriching running such as when we experience runners high. On these occasions, we become unaware of time, we feel we can run forever, and we are scarcely aware that we have a body as it seems to move without effort.
We make the choice between to identify with spirit when we are feeling balanced, happy and peaceful. So how can we intentionally make this choice more often?
It may seem counterintuitive, but we can use body awareness to help us make this choice. If we focus on various parts of our body without judging them, it helps to quiet our mind and switch off ego thoughts. Our ego identifies only with the body. It wants us to criticize and judge ourselves harshly which prevents us from feeling the connection with our inner being when we feel whole and happy. Whenever we do this, our ego becomes silent.
The ego part of our mind wants us to suffer and feel disconnected. It wants us to fully identify as a body and only a body, so it will keep pushing our thoughts in that direction. But we always have a choice. It is not always easy, but we can always choose to identify as spirit and feel connected and happy.
We can also use the breath to help us choose feel connected. Focusing on the breath and watching it move through our body takes our focus away from our ego thoughts by quietening them and moving us into the silence of the present moment. It is here that we are powerful and it is here that we are peaceful and enjoy quiet confidence. In this serene state, we are subconsciously making the choice to be spirit, which is our true nature.
Our senses can also help us choose our divine nature. While running, we can place our attention on various sounds, images and scents. We can allow ourselves to become fully absorbed in all the feedback our senses provide. Our feet provide sensory feedback when they touch the earth. We can allow ourselves to feel a sense of grounding with each step and we can use this sensation to release all unwanted thoughts and feelings that we carry. Let's use our feet to release all thoughts of worry, stress, regrets, anger and resentments. Let's release all thoughts of pain, both physical or mental, deep down into the earth.
Using our body, our breath and our senses are just a few ways to feel more connected to spirit when we are running. There are many others. If you have a method that you use, please share in the comments below. Here are a few other ways that we can practice spiritual running:
Let's make the choice to experience our spiritual connection more often so our runs can be more peaceful and uplifting.
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