Running With a Quiet Mind
I was going to title this blog post “Running Stops the Voices in My Head,” but I thought that might scare some readers off. In fact, running does quiet my mind, if I allow it. One of the aims of the pain-free ChiRunning technique (and ChiWalking) is to change running from a ‘fitness’ sport to a more mindful practice, much like yoga or Pilates or t’ai chi. Every time you go running, it’s a chance to work on improving your running practice, which includes listening to your body.
Most of us carry the narratives of our day-to-day life into everything we do, including our running. When you are running, as the conversation continues, tension can arise, especially in areas where you tend to hold it, such as your shoulder or back. When you are trying to practice efficient movement, that tension can get in the way. When I’m running, sometimes the inner conversation gets loud enough to make me think there is a party going on in my head! When this happens, it’s hard to hear what my body is trying to tell me. It’s time to quiet down, and this is where one of the ChiRunning principles comes in handy – using your y’chi.
In ChiRunning, we talk about using your y'chi (see page 44 of the ChiRunning book) by focusing on an inanimate object in the distance (tree, stop sign, etc.) and directing your energy through your eyes. Think of a cat stalking a bird – the cat doesn't break its visual link to its prey – you could say the cat is using its y'chi. Practicing using your y'chi allows your mind to become quiet and listen to your body better, so that you can 'hear' signals and respond, such as keeping the core engaged, the spine long, and the back of the neck soft. It can also let you know where you might be holding tension. At some point, you will lose that focus. All you have to do is come back to it – it’s always there. By coming back to it and quieting your mind, your run becomes more like a meditation session, and most likely will leave you refreshed. It does for me!
So next time you go running, notice if there is inner chatter going on. Then lock your eyes on to something in the distance, and hear the conversations cease as the tension melts away. Your body will thank you!
Posted in Technique