Years ago I use to run. I’d run in the morning, at lunchtime or in the evening after work. I’d run almost everyday.
I started running not because I liked it but because I was overweight. At first I hated it, I couldn’t breathe, it hurt and I felt like I was going to die. My early runs with my partner had to be carried out in a baggy T-shirt with as few people around as possible and ended with me crying while my partner pushed my along, literally, with their hand in my back.
I hit a point where I started loosing weight and running became easy and I was hooked by the buzzy rush of endorphins, known as runners high.
I ran and ran for miles, through the city streets, along canals and over open moorland and countryside.
I used to count my footsteps up to ten over and over but never took time to appreciate where I was or how my body felt.
I ran like this for 10 years until one morning I couldn’t get into my rhythm, my legs were stiff and my heart rate was flat lining. A voice inside me said “I hate this” so I stopped and walked home and that was the last time I ran.
I didn’t stop exercising though instead I took up walking – this time not because I wanted to be slimmer or keep fit but because I enjoyed it. Unlike running I did not approach it as a form of exercise, weight control or something I did for release to let off steam or de-stress. I did it because I liked to be out in the fresh air, connecting to nature and to myself.
When I ran my mind would be elsewhere, numbing out the pain and the tedium, counting footsteps and not engaging with the world or myself.
With walking I was determined to get the most from each moment so instead of just zoning out, I became intensely aware of everything.
I started by feeling my feet on the ground as they moved, the push of my foot as it rolled across the earth, the rhythm of my breathing, my arms swinging to and fro with each step.
I started noticing the vastness of the sky above me, the variety of trees that I had passed countless times before when I use to run but never seemed to notice. It was like I was really seeing the world around me for the first time. My walks took on a new dimension, something I never really experienced when I was running; I was nourishing not only my body, but my mind and my soul as well.
By walking I was being in the moment, present and aware. A state of being where my mind chatter quietens down and my body and nature speaks louder than my thoughts. An inner calm and stillness descends – giving me the feeling of absolute oneness with myself and all around me. A feeling that I know as being consciously present where my mind and body are focused on the moment.
It’s a state of being we all seem to want but we often forget to put the effort into really achieving it. It’s not until we are forced to face our mortality, or the mortality of a loved one, that we truly begin to understand the value of our time in a new and powerful way. Suddenly we feel an urgent need to really live each moment, to be in each moment to be fully present with and in all that we do.
We all know the saying time flies. And each year it seems to get faster and faster. So why wait until a life crisis hits to value and appreciate the time we have? Why waste another moment not being in the moment and reaping the benefits of presence and connection. Benefits that allow you to feel more at ease and in control of yourself.
Try it right now. Commit to what you’re currently doing with full attention for the next hour or so. Focus yourself in a purposeful way. Force yourself to immediately banish any thoughts that dwell on past events or any worries about the future. Breathe gently, feel what you are doing. Notice things be aware.
We know when we are with of someone who can be fully present, they give you their undivided attention and it makes you feel like you are the only thing of importance to them at that moment. You sense the fullness of their presence and it draws you in. It can be a most incredible experience.
Try it for yourself. Put your mind where your body is and really listen and observe.
You’ll find that you notice things in your body and around you and your interactions will become deeper and more meaningful. It isn’t difficult to do, but it does take practice because our minds are easily pulled away into the past and future. But the time is now and now is where life is happening.
Stop “running” through life, unaware and distracted and start “walking”. Be connected and with yourself instead. Let go of the distractions and constant mind chatter that keeps you from being fully aware, and you will start to live life more fully with ease and simplicity.