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When the Music Stops...Try Meditative Running


Posted by Anne D.

I recently read an article reporting that people who exercise to their favourite tunes stick with the exercise longer. It works for me. I’ve loaded my iPod Shuffle with some of my favourite motivational songs and listen to them only when I run. How can you not be motivated with words like “find your passion and make it happen" from the song “What a Feeling” from the movie Flashdance, or “I know that I can get through this, ‘cus I know that I am strong,” from Believe by Cher. When I hear upbeat songs like “You Can’t Stop the Beat” (from the musical Hairspray) or the inspirational Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” the body just seems to find renewed energy and desire to keep pounding the road.

My iPod is my running partner. At least, it was. For some unexplained reason my iPod Shuffle just up and died on me. Dead. I’m concerned how I’m going to get through the next run with no music to keep me going. This is actually the second time this has happened to my iPod so I’m more than a little annoyed. I have to say they were really good about it when it happened last time and gave me a brand new Shuffle. That was just a month ago and now it has happened again! I’m actually dreading today’s run. No tunes to keep me company and motivated during my 45 minutes out on the back roads of cottage country. Instead, I decided to try something new based on a practice I recently learned on a recent visit to the Royal Palms Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

As an extension of its spa menu, the luxury resort now offers a “treatment” called Walking Meditation. An ancient form of meditation found in many cultures throughout the world, Walking Mediation can be carried out most anywhere. At the Royal Palms we walk quietly and very slowly around the lovingly landscaped property, in and out of Mediterranean-influenced buildings and in full view of Camelback Mountain. We are mindful of sights and sounds and senses. We are totally in-the-moment.

Meditative Running (which is less ancient form of meditation, more necessity due to lack of iPod) is also in-the-moment and mindful of sights, sounds and senses. Instead of listening to Abba, Madonna, Cher and Whitney, I’m feeling the sun on my face, the breeze in my hair and my feet pounding on dirt roads. My ankle hurts. I’m listening to the twitter and chirp of birds, the rustle of summer leaves, the buzz of chainsaws as cottagers go about the business of repairing the damages of winter. I see myself running through patches of sunlight and of shadows, the occasional insect whizzing by. I see the road, the trees, the lake, the sky. One other sole runner jogs by. We wave. I’m not thinking about the music. I have focused my attention to be fully present. This is Meditative Running.

Now, which do I prefer? Meditative Running has its place and I will definitely do it from time to time, but tomorrow I’m getting a new iPod.

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Comments (3)
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Living in San Francisco, tech/Mac-land, I encounter an endless sea of "bud people", that is, those who wear head phones or ear buds in order to listen to whatever they have in their cool, little device whenever they step out their home door. I can certainly understand where music inspires a physical workout - dance having been my first love - and how it can enhance the experience. However, change it up once in a while to listen to the music of the street, neighborhood, field, wherever it is that you are, and tune into the vibes around you (even if is that of an annoying car alarm, car horns, etc. - find the birds in between). I love just listening to the sounds around me when I walk in the city or take Caltrain to the Peninsula; it's definitely my preference (let alone often safer) because it's often very entertaining, funny, sad, unexpected - a beat that's unique to that moment.
You are absolutely right Kat D. Since the first time my shuffled died and I had to run without tunes, I learned the art of running to the sounds of nature. I do like to shake things up every now and then and leave the Ipod at home. Just finished a 5k run today and feeling pumped.
I enjoy working out with my iPod, but I do not like not knowing what is going on around me. If I'm at the gym, I use my iPod to drown out the other noise, but if I'm outside, I rather just listen to what's around me.
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