Thursday, June 13, 2013

Running with the Mind of Meditation

"Movement is good for the body; stillness is good for the mind." – Sakyong Mipham

I actually started writing this post a while back but never finished it. For the sake of transparency, I want to let you know that I was contacted by Crown Publishing Group who asked if I would read a new book by Sakyong Mipham. It's called Running with the Mind of meditation: Lessons for training body and mind. Sakyong is an author of a national bestseller called Turning the mind into an ally. He is also the author of the prize winning Ruling your World.  Crown mailed me the book for free and asked me to read it and blog about it if I felt that I wanted to share it with my readers. I agreed to read it because if you have read posts of mine like... Rain running is rejuvenating or Running toward my problems, you'll already know that I have a connection to running that goes much deeper than exercise. I have never really meditated in the crossed legged stereotypical way but I know I use running for meditation purposes. When I run, I connect, I center, I think, I process, I heal, etc.

Just to give myself a sense of Sakyong's perspective, I found some factoids on him. He is a Tibetan Lama and the leader of of Shambhala, a "global community of meditation and retreat centers." He is from a very strong Tibetan lineage and has studied with some of the most enlightened meditation masters of Tibet. He is also uniquely connected to the West because his father wanted him to be educated in Europe and North America. He is a speaker, teacher, poet, artist and obviously a writer. He is a runner and has completed 9 marathons to raise money for Tibet. He is clearly a family man because this book is a dedicated to his wife and daughter. Did I mention that his wife is a Tibetan Princess? If that's not enough for you, he has been called "one of the 30 global visionaries of our time." He teaches and preaches about the wisdom, compassion and courage of all beings. He sees his role as "Earth protector." Phew! I need to step up my life!
Sakyong Mipham
There's a lovely little moment in this book where Sakyong talks about running with some other young monks near their temple and the danger of wild animals in the jungle. It created such vivid images for me and I wish he had gone into spaces like this a little more throughout. I feel like he has experienced running in a way that I have not and I'm always fascinated by that.

The book gets pretty deep into meditation. I think I found it a little difficult to take it in easily because although I am open to the concepts, I knew nothing about meditation before reading this book. Sakyong really is a master and it can get very deep and intelectual in places. For those who are either in the process of learning meditation or have meditated for many years, I think you'll find it very interesting. The connection with meditation and running is definitely a fascinating subject.

Maybe Sakyong should connect with Budd Coates. Recently, I have been trying out some of the breathing techniques that are recommended by Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Run Better by Breathing Smarter, by Budd Coates, M.S., and Claire Kowalchik (Rodale, 2013). You can read about it at Runners World here. I love the way the 3/2 technique encourages you to breath on alternate foot strikes and I'm starting to see some performance benefits. I have noticed that practicing this breathing technique is hypnotic because of the reoccurring pattern. I could quite easily see it be combined with some form of meditation.

For anyone who connects with running on another level (like most of us do) and is curious about the connection of running and meditation, I'd definitely consider giving this a read. But remember, it's not a story, it's instruction and insight from a master. Just setting your expectations. The book can be purchased here:

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