And in working with this over the last ten years I think I can make the following claim: the feelings and sensations we have when truly glowing about running can be captured effectively and used when running. And as a hook for a future article, this is also the case for peak experiences when running, as well as for discovering that outstanding inner runner.
I think I can best explain this as an exercise you can explore for yourself. I have many versions of this exercise, but here is a generic one designed to find, capture and use what makes the heart sing when it comes to running.
Consider this exercise as a visualization/meditation exercise. Sit or lay down, getting comfortable, with eyes open or closed as you prefer. I won't go into detail into what best surrounds exercises such as these because I want to keep this article short and focused, but taking a moment to relax by taking a few deep breaths or progressively relaxing the body can make this a more effective exercise.
Here is how it can work:
Start by taking a minute to think about why you run and what inspires you about it. I've noticed a huge variety in what truly gets someone going so give yourself a moment to watch all the different answers you come up with. Be open to surprising answers. Watch for what gets the biggest positive response. Here are some possibilities.
- For me it includes past incredible experiences of running that were truly inspiring, the thrilling (to me) goal of trying to qualify for the Olympic trials, and most of all a vividly imagined, felt and visualized concept of running
- Elite runners and other fabulous athletes can be particularly inspiring
- For another: A mother's goal of running alongside her bicycling young daughter for several miles
- The excitement and empowerment of exercising and running for yourself and not others-"This is for me!"
Once you have found what lights you up, it is time to capture that feeling. Pay close attention to what images or thoughts get the most powerful response. Pay close attention to what emotions accompany it. For some, other senses may be involved, such as a smell, sound, or song. And last but not least, take stock of what bodily sensations may accompany the feeling. For me, this can include a feeling like my heart is bursting open with love and happiness and a tingling or buzzing sensation just below my navel.
Depending on the person, what is most important to capture can vary. Some need only a powerful visual, or song, or sentence. Others work best with imagining the emotion(s) associated with the feeling, or with different sensations one may feel in the body. Watch and see which individual or combination creates the most powerful response for you.
Once you have found this for yourself, I highly recommend staying with the feeling in the way you best capture it for several more minutes before ending this exercise. The more vividly you imagine all this, the more powerful the effects can be.
Some final tips:
- Practice capturing the feeling for a couple minutes everyday, and then bring it into your running! You will find that doing this exercise both during and outside running will reinforce each other in unexpected but powerful ways.
- If emotions or sensations are crucial to finding the feeling, don't be afraid to just imagine that you feel whatever emotion or sensations are associated with it. You will discover that just by imagining it is there, it will start to be there after a moment
So there you have it.
Run from what lights you up! Its a fabulous journey, I promise.