So you are training for your first 5K. Maybe you will lose some weight, maybe you will feel stronger, lower your blood pressure, find new friends.
But did you know that having an active lifestyle can quiet your mind?
I am not always thrilled at the prospect of leaving my warm bed to run. It is 6 a.m. In the winter, it is dark and cold. Maybe it is even raining or snowing. How could making myself run up the hill, heart pounding, breath coming hard, be good for my sense of well-being? Shouldn’t I be finding peace on the meditation cushion?
I live in my body – so do you.
But, so often, the stressors in our lives put us in our heads. I know that is where I go when I fight with my boyfriend, feel overwhelmed at work, wonder how I will pay for college. It is not a good place to be. At times, my mind runs around like a hamster on a wheel. I feel burdened and distracted by my own thoughts. I am not attuned to my body and my surroundings. I am not going to solve problems or improve my state of being this way. I need to get out of my head. And so I run.
When I run, it is like a meditation. My mind runs too, sometimes on the same topics that have burdened me. But this time the thoughts do not stick. My mind does not attach to the thoughts – I can watch them roll around but not hold on to them. They lose the intensity they need to weigh me down.
I don’t always want to run. I don’t always even like it when I am doing it – “Is this run over soon???” But I never regret that I did it when I am done. And I never feel worse after I have done it. I always feel accomplished, virtuous, clearer, steadier and incredibly fortunate that I have this gift of fitness that I gave myself.
What else can you count on in life like that?
By Carla Lisio, LCSW
Executive Vice President, Behavioral Services