You may recall, I mentioned that I used running as a new approach to fitting in mindfulness into my busy schedule. Not surprisingly, my schedule hasn’t become less busy now that I’m back at work and these runs are still as helpful now as they were then.
Because they allow me to find a different way to practice mindfulness through deliberate focuses during some of my runs.
I usually run with music in my ears, but during these runs I enjoy focusing on deliberately listening to all the sounds around me, feeling how the different parts of my body responds to the physical exercise, noticing the wind in my hair and against my face.… Never have I been more aware of the arrival of spring and the birds signing all around me as during these runs in recent weeks.
I hadn’t heard of this option of mindfulness practice before, and as so often is true, I made the discovery thanks to a personal challenge at the time.
As Albert Einstein once said, “in the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity”.
So true and on this occasion it was about the fact that a very upsetting incident happened half way through last year. For weeks afterwards I found myself dwelling on it during my runs. I had imaginary conversations in my mind and felt quite drained by the negative focus that this resulted in throughout my runs.
The incident was a particularly stressful one, and it wasn’t until I went on our first family holiday since my little boy arrived in 2015 that I found a much less painful mindset where my focus was that of positivity and gratitude, which I usually have.
After our return from holiday, I suddenly I realised I hadn’t run for over a month. This isn’t like me, and when I scrutinised what was happening I realised the running had become associated with the upset. It’d become my space to think and the thinking had turned into unhelpful ruminating.
The challenging situation I’d found myself in, along with this realisation a few weeks later, together worked to open up my creative thinking, resulting in my discovery of the ‘mindful runs’.
And they turned out to be so liberating, not only preventing the negative dwelling but also in me reclaiming my runs. Which are really important to me!
Plus it gave me the new method for my mindfulness practice of course. Which really works! Give it a try and if running isn’t your thing, try it during a nice walk or perhaps pop down to the local swimming pool and test it out during some lengths.
And in terms of the upsetting incident of last year, I’ve reshaped my thinking and put it where it belongs – in the past. In fact, I’ve literally taken a leaf out of my own book where I write:
“How your respond to events is what shapes your experiences, not the events themselves. Taking responsibility for your own view of the world and your responses to the events in it will allow you much greater control over outcomes than you may currently realise you have.”
I certainly enjoy having taken the control back and remember you can too when difficulties come your way.
So let’s make May our month of mindfulness to stay centred, calm and present. Add some gratitude and an open mind to the mix and the world is our oyster!
PS. Just ping me an email if you’d like your own signed copy of my book What’s Your Excuse for Not Being More Confident? and my reliable postal service will get on the case!