I guess the thought of running for most people seems grueling and torturous. Running is not automatically associated with relaxing and calming our minds, but believe it or not, it does! I love to run for so many reasons, the number one being because it helps me to get past all the junk in my life and find truth again.
When I run, I start out with all these junk thoughts in my head, all the worries and fears, not only my own, but everyone else’s too. When I start out with a head full of junk thoughts, I never believe that I can make it very far. I’ll tell myself, “just make it two miles today,” but something happens out there on the country road, around 20 minutes in and I know I can make it further. All the thoughts of doubt, worry, fear and complaining, just fall away. With each step, I become more connected to what I want for my life and a surge of gratitude flows within me for how everything is now. I find out a little bit more about what I can do physically when I pass by every mile, but I also am able to let go of so many things mentally and find out who I am.
Running has taught me so much. Here are some life lessons that I have learned from running:
- Let go and surrender. You cannot hold a positive thought and a negative thought at the same time. If you hold thoughts of doubt or complaining, believing you can’t do something, that is what you will experience. If instead you hold positive thoughts and focus on what you love, you can do anything! I have spent a lot of my time running, just letting go of all the negative thoughts and instead traded them for a more positive outlook.
- Gratitude and appreciation for all of life (not just the good). When I see the sun, the green grass and the bright blue sky (or even the rain some days) I am reminded of the beauty that is available to us everyday. There is so much in life taken for granted, so much beauty never experienced and so much opportunity never taken. We only have now to enjoy our lives and to love the people we are with now, if we blink we will miss it.
- Nothing lasts forever. Even when it feels like I can’t make it to the next mile and my heart is beating out of my chest, I know that I will survive this and that later on in the day I will forget about how hard it was. Nothing lasts forever, all of the difficult times in our lives will pass, but the good times will also. We have to embrace them all and enjoy each and every passing moment.
- You have to live deeper than what you think or feel. Running demands something from me, that at times I just can’t give. I come to a point where I have to completely press past what I think and feel to something deeper. I lose myself around the 5 mile point and I just fly. Once I let go of all of my junk thoughts, self-doubt and restrictions I have built up in my mind and just be present with how I am feeling, embracing everything just as it is, the resistance melts away and my body just does what it needs to do.
- I am only responsible for myself. I find that it is easy to get caught up in everyone’s life drama and to take on responsibility or worry that doesn’t belong to me. I have learned from running that I can’t hold onto what doesn’t belong to me. If I do, I can’t go very far. This is true in life also. If we hold onto what is not ours and take on the responsibility of”fixing” anyone else, we won’t be able to do the work necessary for our own lives and we will suffer. I have learned that I am only responsible for my own thoughts and actions. I can choose to enjoy my life and be myself, regardless of what other people may or may not be doing or thinking. I am not responsible for their choices and they are not responsible for mine. My life is my responsibility.
- Self-love is not selfish. Running always puts me in a better mood. When I walk through the door after a long run, I am able to be a better mother, wife and person. Self-love is not selfish. If I don’t take care of myself, (physically, mentally and spiritually) and if I don’t allow myself to experience love, how can I love others? What would I have to offer? I read a quote once, “Before you can love others, you must receive love for yourself, because you cannot give away something you don’t have.” This I have learned to be so true.
- Challenges are opportunities to grow and change. I love the challenge I am faced with every time I run. Each run offers me an opportunity to advance physically, by going further distances and mentally by taking note of what I have been thinking and choosing more positive, loving thoughts. The challenges and resistance I face, offer me opportunities to do of all of the above that I mentioned and drop my head and go from my heart.
This is what I have learned from running and this is why I love to run.