Mindfulness running, and my new post schedule

Hi, all! I’m writing you from bleak, pouring Arlington where the sky is gray and sad. Perfect day for writing, in other words. Boy, was it beautiful this morning, though.

I went for a run when I got up this morning, so I got up kind of early even though I didn’t have to work. It’s too hot for running after about 8:30am, so it’s kind of a wash if you get up after that. I’ve decided I’m going to work out every single morning before I do anything else, because doing the same thing at the same time is the only way I’m ever going to make this into a habit. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go running every day–some days it’ll probably just be about five minutes of yoga or something–but I’m trying to just make it a mindless thing.

Well, sort of. Today I tried something a little different when I went on my run. I’ve been playing around with mindfulness meditation lately after having read a bunch of articles about the benefits–it can calm anxiety and stress, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, and even raise your test scores. The basic idea is being fully present and mindful of where and when you are, as well as learning to observe and let go of thoughts and feelings that distract you from it. It’s basically cultivating quiet, awareness, and concentration, so it makes sense why it has some great effects.

This morning I took it a step further after reading an article on one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, about combining running and meditation. You can read that post here. The author’s idea is to use running either as the kind of concentration meditation I was mentioning earlier, or as “contemplation,” taking it as quiet time to consider your life, your relationships, your projects, even coming up with ideas for your creative pursuits.

I attempted that first kind on my run this morning. I took it easy–I ran pretty slow and took the route with stoplights–but it was  tough. It’s basically the opposite of everything I ever try to do when I actually manage to exercise. My go-to pretty much forever has been to do whatever I possibly can to ignore what I’m doing to my body. I’ve always been particularly intent on ignoring my breathing, because listening to myself panting usually increases my panic about exercising and OHMYGOSHMYBODYCAN’THANDLETHIS.

Verdict: I didn’t die. It was actually kind of cool. It was really hard to concentrate for that long, though, especially because by the end I was getting a lot of ideas for my novel and this blog post, as much as I tried to just stay in the moment. But I think it’s good for me to actually intentional be aware of what my body is doing when I run, because I actually don’t die!

Other things of interest: I’ll be starting my new internship on Wednesday. I will usually be working Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which means I’ll actually be scheduling time to blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Moral of the story? Expect new posts at least every Tuesday and Thursday, and kick my butt if they don’t happen!

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