I hear people say things like ‘running is my mediation.’ And I’m not really sure what they mean by that. They might mean something like running makes me feel good, connects me with my body, and focuses my mind. Well, I guess those things do sound a bit like meditation to me.
But I think saying that running IS mediation is a bit of a short cut. While you can bring mindfulness to running (and running lends itself to this), it is not the same as seated mindfulness meditation.
I have been running for 20 years and meditating for five and I can really say, from my own experience – they are different. Not only are they different in practice, but they are often different in result. When I was running in college and after (80-100 miles per week) I wasn’t learning how my mind works. I wasn’t seeing my own grumpiness, my impatience, my anger, etc. It was through the practice of mindfulness meditation that I began to grow in my self-awareness and change my habits and thought patterns that were not serving me.
And now, meditation really supports my running – I have developed tools to enhance my running that I didn’t have 10 years. I have learned to actually listen to my body and mind. I have seen that no one achievement (breaking 15 mins for 5k) will bring me any amount of lasting happiness. Sure it feels amazing to run fast and achieve a goal, but this feeling passes.
So, in my own experience – running and mediation are different! I recommend doing them both, everyday!