Lots of runners use running to clear their minds. After a hard day at work, or dealing with whiny kids, running soothes the nerves. But there is another, well-known method of calming the mind! And that is meditating.
Unfortunately almost everyone who has tried to meditate has had the same problem: as soon as you sít down, your mind starts rúnning. Often in circles.
That is why I find it easier to calm my mind by running than by meditating!
The effect of meditation is permanent. The effect of running is not.
But then I read Sakyong Rinpoches Mipham's book 'Running Buddha'. Sakyong Mipham is a Buddhist monk, who has run lots of marathons. In his book Running Buddha he joins running and meditating together. His message is clear:
Movement is good for the body, calm and stillness are good for the mind.
Do you want to tame your mind, or just exhaust it?
Mipham compares our mind to a wild horse. He acknowledges the calming effects of running on this wild horse aka our mind. But when we run, the horse becomes calm because we exhaust it. It's tired. But it's only a matter of time, before it gets its second wind and starts running again.
You haven't tamed your mind, and you don't control it.
So you'll have to go for a run again, to exhaust your mind. Again. And again.
The calmness that is achieved by running is only temporary. But the peace of mind achieved by meditating is permanent. Because by meditating you táme the wild horse/ your mind.
I found Mipham's view absolutely fascinating. Now I really want to tame my mind! Because unfortunately my mind is a lot like the horses in this video.
Hów do I tame my mind: start with your breathing
Miphams writes he's not an expert on running, even though he has run lots of marathons. His book Running Buddha is all about using meditation in your runs. Mipham starts with easy to follow instructions like 'concentrate on your breathing'. And as the book progresses the instructions get harder. At least I thought so. In fact if I'm really honest: I didn't get further than focussing on my breath.
But that's alright!
Like learning to run, learning to meditate takes time.
And my mind is a wild one!