Often our most important training days as runners are the ones when we do nothing. Our recovery days are crucial, and without them, the hard work we put it wouldn’t result in much. When our muscles are allowed to heal properly, they can repair themselves and grow stronger. A continual pounding doesn’t allow for that.
With all the stress-related and emotionally-heavy issues we have been faced with recently, it seemed like a good time for a more relaxing episode. Like our legs and lungs, our minds and souls could do with a recovery period, so that’s what we aimed for in this episode.
Oren Jay Sofer is an author, instructor, guide, and teacher. HIs expertise is in mindfulness, meditation and nonviolent communication. You can hear his voice and join in his classes that he hosts on his website, or on apps like Calm and 10% Happier. If you need a break from the world this week, and advice on how to deal with the stress we’re all experiencing, read on and tune in.
What is Meditation?
If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about meditation is an old man sitting crossed-legged somewhere in nature for hours on end. This can definitely be described as meditation, but so can many other forms of meditation. The point is typically to be aware of your thoughts, but not judgmental.
The definition of mediation varies, but a starting point you can think about is that meditation is training for your mind. If you find your thoughts wandering, or maybe even catch yourself thinking some negative things, don’t feel like you are failing at meditation. The point isn’t so much to have a perfectly clear mind as it is to understand how your mind works. Keep practicing.
To begin, Oren gives a short parable on how meditating is effective. This is incredibly important for those of us that feel like we don’t have time to meditate.
Think about a logger who spends his days cutting down trees with his axe. As time goes on, his axe becomes dull, and so his rate of falling trees starts to decrease. To make up for his inefficient axe, he works harder, faster, and longer. A fellow logger notices his axe and offers him a sharpener, but he replies that he doesn’t have time to sharpen his axe, he needs to reach his tree cutting quota.
You get where this is going. Meditation isn’t an extra thing that is required of you that takes energy. Meditation is the sharpener that will allow you to perform more efficiently at all the tasks you are faced with.
What Else Can Meditation Do for Me?
Another visual story can illustrate what mediation might do for you. A hamster runs on her fixed wheel all day long. At one point she is approached by another hamster who introduces her to meditation. She jumps off the wheel for a while, meditates, and then gets back on, running faster than ever.
After a while, the meditation she does everyday prompts her to think about her fixed wheel, and why she is always running on it. What is the purpose? What else is there to do?
Meditation can help you clear your mental inbox. It lets all the thoughts roam around without judgement and slowly you begin to find those things that are most important.
Meditation and Your Relationships
A great benefit of training your mind through meditation is the ability to communicate more rationally and effectively. We are faced with a myriad of issues and relationships today that require a lot of control and focus when communicating. As you train your mind to recognize your thoughts before you speak them, you’ll be a better communicator.
What to Do Today
Oren suggests four things to practice in order to keep ourselves and relationships healthy. See if there is one that you can implement today!
1) Stay connected with people. Don’t let different opinions get in the way. Nearly all our stances can be boiled down to a similar goal we have. Work to see what that is.
2) Take care of yourself in basic ways. That means rest, movement, meditation, and food.
3) Limit your news intake. This can be extremely draining and addictive. Stay engaged, but set limits.
4) Stay nonviolent. This is similar to number one. See the humanity in everyone. We all have vulnerabilities, and as we see them, we are kinder to one another.
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Thank you to my wonderful sponsor Tracksmith, InsideTracker, Tee’s Kreation for sponsoring this episode of the Running for Real Podcast.
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Thanks for listening! I hope you enjoyed today’s episode.
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Thank you to Oren, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.