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Aerobic Exercise and Meditation

Aerobic Exercise and Meditation

As a runner and a meditation practitioner, I am often pleasantly surprised by the similarities between the two activities.  When I meditate, I allow myself to experience the present – at least to a greater degree than I do during the rest of my day.  Even when my mind wanders or when I start to experience anxiety about future plans or past mistakes, during meditation, it is easier for me to recognize those habitual thought patterns and separate myself from them.

When I consciously acknowledge that worry and anxiety are nothing more than ingrained ways of thinking, I permit myself to experience those emotions while not allowing them to overwhelm me or dictate my actions.  I am able to do this because meditation helps me to stay in the present.  It makes it easier for me to understand that, no matter what I may be worried about, in the present, my life is just fine.  That is not to say that it is inadvisable to plan for the future, or course. But by staying in the present, it is easier for me to make plans in a calm manner, without being plagued with worry or anxiety.

I enjoy a similar experience when I run.  Because running is very physical experience, it helps me to feel embodied and grounded.  I have been a runner since I was 13, so at this point, it is second nature to me.  When I run, my breath, my strides, and the pumping of my arms fall into sync.  My body is in harmony, and I enjoy a greater degree of coordination than I do at other times.  This physically harmonious feeling helps me to come back to earth, to pull away from the “monkey mind” that gets caught in loops of destructive thinking.  And as is the case during meditation, I feel more firmly grounded in my present reality.  For anyone working to promote presence and to alleviate the anxiety caused when emotions become overwhelming, I recommend a combination of aerobic exercise and meditation, as the two are highly complementary.


Read more: Fitness, Health, Mental Wellness, Spirit

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


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10:31PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

right on!!!

9:50AM PDT on May 21, 2012

it depends on how fast your mind is running... and it it is racing toward a goal

4:39PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

being grounded in a present that is extremely shaky can be very sobering and frightening however.

6:25PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

thank you

8:03PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012


2:26AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012


10:02PM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

Gardening and meditation are so beautifully complementary and compatible. The two together bring everything into alignment.

3:06PM PDT on Apr 6, 2012


12:28PM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

12:04PM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

I am a natural meditator, but really more of a sprinter than the long-distance runner that people think of when they say "runner." I have had very meditative experiences while doing aerobic activity (particularly on elliptical trainers), but running is different for me. I have recently taken up more distance running, and so far it's too much of a challenge to allow me to get into a meditative state, but I can see how it would be quite conducive to meditation if you are able to do it for a reasonably extended period of time.

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