Keeping Mindfulness Real
One slight problem with today’s so-called “mindfulness movement” is due to vague, lofty claims and generalizations about what it is and what it can do, especially in the area of human performance. Thankfully, I now see how my enthusiasm for the topic can work against me: even though I have a meditation background (or perhaps because of it?), I can feel the powerful allure of such claims.
The way it is taught in almost all schools of Buddhism mindful meditation is about cultivating the ability to be present. This is done by allowing thoughts to come and go (to arise, to dwell, and to recede) without either indulging or suppressing them, and then returning to the object of meditation, which is commonly the breath.
Contrary to popular belief, the goal of meditation is not to have an undisturbed mind; rather, it is about cultivating equanimity: the patient, gentle attitude of allowing the mind to be as it is, disturbed or undisturbed, sleepy or wakeful or bored or irritated, and to be fine with that. As a recent issue of Psychology Today put it, “Training people to focus on their breath doesn’t stop their thoughts; it interposes distance and delay so they can pay less attention to them. They can let the thoughts pass without being compelled by them.”
The gradual (often very gradual) result of this kind of mindfulness meditation is greater relaxation, less self- and other-judgment, and greater mindfulness and awareness of one’s inner and outer environment.
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We are continuously adding educational opportunities to help you take your running to the next level.
Mindfulness Workshop One
Keep Still – Run Faster
In this workshop, you’ll learn a simple, straightforward way of practicing mindful meditation, one that helps make your running and racing flow with greater ease.
This practice emphasizes meditation posture as an expression of Buddha nature, rather than as a means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take the form itself is the purpose of the practice. When you have the right posture, you have the right state of mind, so there’s no need to try to attain some special state.
You will learn the correct body position, breathing, and focusing techniques involved in this form of mindfulness meditation. In addition, you will be introduced to sitting, lying and standing activities that reinforce the sense of calm and peace you experience through running. You’ll get practical instructions and a foundation of skills that eventually allow you sit quietly for 20-30 minutes every day. Over time, you will gradually feel the subtle effects keeping still has on the quality of energy you bring to your running and to the rest of your life.
When is it? – Summer 2018
Mindfulness Workshop Two
Breathing is the foundation of running.
You may have heard coaches and athletes say that breathing is not something that has to be practiced because it comes naturally to everyone. Over the last 50 years, however, experts have become more aware of the ways people do not breathe effectively, which limits the ability of their blood to convey oxygen to the working muscles.
In this workshop we’ll begin by tracking the breath consciously, a basic life-skill that makes all the other techniques possible. At first, you may find that the breath is only faintly perceptible. Where does it come from and where does it go? The object is to simply stay in touch with the breath and the physical sensations you feel in your body.
Next, we’ll work on keeping our awareness on the moment of change from inhalation to exhalation. Shallow breathing leaves a residue of carbon dioxide in the lungs; this limits of air that can enter the lungs on the subsequent inhalation. To fully aerate the lungs, we need to breathe like swimmers who expel all the air from their lungs every 2-3 strokes.
Once you learn to regulate your breathing, you can delay the shift from one intensity zone to the next — which means your heart rate will stay lower. The more you are able to stay conscious of your breathing, the stronger your inner life will be. Your running naturally follows.