The word Mindful is bubbling to the surface of the collective consciousness and I think its a good time for me to explain what it means to me because it set the direction for the Mindful Runner and for my own continued existence.
At it’s core mindful means being present in the moment. Such a simple statement but it’s loaded with implication. After all the only time that is real is this moment. Too many people live in the past re-hashing scenarios or playing ‘what if’ in their heads. Others are so focused on the future and what they’re hoping to do. Both groups are missing what’s happening right now, the touch of a loved one, the colour of the sky, the beat of your heart and the simple wonder of being human.
Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh has this to say
“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes , the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus, we are sucked away into the future — and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
In the most immediate sense, in a mindful state as a runner you’re aware of your muscles sliding under your skin, your heartbeat, the wind on your face, sun on your skin but that awareness is not a call to action. You don’t have to do anything about what you’re experiencing, you allow the experience to engulf you with no judgement, no time constraints and no expectations. Just be in the moment and each time your brain starts to chatter away just gently bring it back to the present moment.
The everyday awareness that grows as you practice being mindful begins to expand into the larger world. What starts as the simple act of being present during a run or washing dishes can grow into a life altering awareness. It’s helped me become more tolerant, less stressed and a lot more aware of my own impact on the environment, creatures and people that I share this beautiful planet with.
Try it the next time you go for a run or a walk.