I probably just lost half of you since you’ll be guessing that I run without music. But before you knock me as crazy and leave this blog, hear me out at least a little.
I often run without headphones so that I can find a sense of silence. I’ve found that without headphones, I more easily fall into the quiet that running brings me. The silence around me promotes the silence in my head.
But that’s not to say you can’t have that silence if you run with music or podcasts. It might just be a little different. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll find that it interrupts your inner quiet.
First of all, like I’ve said in the past, give running a go without music or podcasts. Leave the headphones at home for a week. Just to see.
Silence is hard to find. If we’re someone who practices lots and lots of mindfulness and meditation, we might have an easier time hopping into that flow of quiet and stillness. I’ve always envisioned a strong river so deep its a dark blue in my head. When I reflect on coming to a place of stillness or emptiness in my head, I think about stepping into the river.
The more you play with coming to a place of complete quiet the easier it gets to step into that river. Eventually, you’ll be able to turn it on and off pretty much whenever you want and you’ll find that naturally your entire being wants to rest in that quiet place.
Why? Because it feels nice.
In that place, we’re tranquil. Stress doesn’t bother us…at least not as much. We aren’t taking shallow breaths. We are in control of ourselves and also completely out of control. It just feels nice.
But how do we get there?
A lot of work. And a lot of patience.
Today, we’re going to focus on running. How do we find silence inside of ourselves while running?
First things first…no music! At least for today.
Next, the quarter mile rule. Now this is a little rule that I’ve established for myself. I’m not a negative person but in the past I have struggled with finding the silver lining and I have certainly struggled with being nice to myself. So I ended up developing the quarter mile rule.
For .25 miles, I am allowed to whine and be a little mean. That doesn’t mean I have to it just means that if I’m grumpy and complaining that it’s cold, or hot, or I’m tired, or I can’t do this that I’m allowed. But only for .25 miles.
Initially, it was really hard to force those thoughts away because that’s what it is…forcing those thoughts away. I had to keep track of my mind. I had to keep track of what I was thinking.
That’s not easy.
It is being mindful though. It taught me very quickly that I need to pay attention to what’s happening in my mind. As much as focusing on my heart rate, cadence, foot strike are important so is focusing on my mind and what’s going on up there.
So that’s step two. Bring awareness to your thoughts. Notice what’s going on, change the bad thoughts. Cut them off and replace them with a moment of positivity.
From there, once we’ve mastered this step, we focus on the silence. Or maybe first we focus on the sounds of our feet. Or the cars going by. Or the wind in the trees. Or the animals walking by.
Get my point?
There’s very rarely a moment where things are really actually silent. But focusing on the various sounds around us can help our brain begin to understand how to step into the river of stillness.
That’s the secret. Our inner silence is just like that natural silence around us.
It isn’t perfectly quiet at all but instead extremely loud if we give it our ear. There are tons of thoughts that drift through. Tons of brief emotions. Tons of brief agitations. Tons of brief joys. All of them poke through the surface of the river for a moment before following the current.
That’s really what that inner silence is about. It isn’t about silence at all. It’s about stepping into the flow and letting everything just do as it pleases. We don’t dwell. We don’t cling to a moment or memories or emotions. We just let everything move.
I like to do this more with running than with anything else because mentally stepping into a flow of thoughts pairs with the action of moving away from my last step and towards my next perfectly. My body is doing what my mind needs to. In that way, it’s easier for me.
It just seems to click, to make sense to me.
So here’s the deal. If you’ve never experienced stillness within you while running, getting in the grove, try to find it. It’s one of those things that takes time and practice and energy. But once you find it, everything changes.
If you have already found it and this sounds familiar, like runner’s high or getting into the flow, I encourage you to try and apply it elsewhere. Can you go through your life like this? Can you drive like this? Can you incorporate that sense of calm into your daily life?
This way of being is one way that I think we can help lower our stress and learn to live in the moment better. It helps us focus on the present moment while keeping us calm. Of course, occasionally things will pop up in our minds about bad memories or loved ones that are gone but we will know that something caused it.
This practice of being still gives us a tool to catch bad influences (even something as simple as a YouTuber with a bad attitude) or cycles we fall into that perpetuate bad habits and bad mindsets.
Be happy. Be positive. Learn to step into the river in your mind.