Stillness

by Elaina Stover, a lululemon contributor

“The rhythmic movement of our feet created ease and relaxation in our bodies, revitalized by the fresh air. We remained alert and constantly aware of our environment, which helped us to be present in the moment. Even though we weren’t saying much, there existed between us the camaraderie of an unspoken language, a deep feeling of appreciation that we were alive and healthy. We felt fortunate to be able to run.” –Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Running with the Mind of Meditation

Many non-runners wonder what we like about running. And after months of training, sometimes I wonder what I like about running. Wouldn’t I rather (fill in the blank). Sound familiar? My weekend runs at Enchanted Rock have always been my source of inspiration, but during the week—what could I look forward to? Pavement? No thanks.

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photo: Runningmind.org website

I found my inspiration in Rinpoche’s book Running with the Mind of Meditation. He says simply, “The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness. When we give our mind and body what benefits them, a natural harmony and balance takes place.” In his meditation and running workshops, Rinpoche taught mostly ultra marathon runners, prompting him to say, “When I considered their experience, it made sense. After you run for a while, what do you find in there but your own mind?”

So many of us seek running for the catharsis, the runner’s high or the invigorating systemic feeling  that happens after increasing aerobic capacity. There are so many wonderful effects of physical activity, yet it doesn’t deal with everything.  Running can dredge all the worries and stress from our system, but meditation is a practice that allows us to go deeper into the stillness of our mind.

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Photo: Stillness at the top of Enchanted Rock on a morning run

Cultivating a meditation practice is wonderful way to balance a hectic life and demanding training schedule. Just 20 minutes of quiet mediation or restorative yoga can create profound changes in your mood, energy levels and mental clarity. If you have never meditated before, it is best to learn from a teacher to get you started.

My favorite places in Austin to be meditative:

  1. AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine – offer free intro classes and ongoing community classes in Qi Gong, Tai Chi and more. Located on 4701 West Gate Blvd. https://aoma.edu/community-classes/
  2. Yoga Yoga – one of the few places that lets you be in savasana long enough and incorporates healing sounds of the gong. http://www.yogayoga.com/
  3. Austin Zen Center – I haven’t been here myself, but I have friends who go regularly. They hold ongoing classes and dharma talks. http://www.austinzencenter.org/
  4. Bfree Yoga – a wonderful list of teachers. Teachers you can’t miss : Omar and Iva. They always guide you through a contemplative vinyasa-based yoga practice. You will leave with a yoga buzz.  http://bfreeaustin.com/
  5.  Unity Church of the Hills Austin – Pranic Healing Meet up group leads a Twin Heart Meditation followed by energy healing. The Twin Hearts Meditation changed my life. A very effective meditation.  http://www.meetup.com/Austin-Pranic-Healing/
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