Running to inner peace

Running. It was never my favorite activity. However, I would like to think that I grew into it a few years ago, experiencing the runner’s high as they call it. Unfortunately, I can assure you that my adversity for running reappeared quickly after my love for walking started, and after I injured my knee. Not because I physically was not able to do it, but mainly because I was just flat out telling myself I couldn’t do it. With the gyms being closed since December and a knee surgery in January, I became the master at telling myself I wasn’t ready or strong enough, or I just did not want to go, or I didn’t feel like it today, or… well, I guess we are all familiar with all the excuses.

So lately I have been trying to get my but out the door again for just a quick run. But every time I tried (and believe me I did), I would either end up getting dressed, stepping out of the door, only to return one to five minutes later with a great excuse (not ;)) or taking a walk.

Two weeks ago, it was no different, I woke up wanting to run. So, I decided to not give my crazy monkey mind the slightest chance to change its mind. I immediately got dressed, put on my running shoes, drank a glass of water and got my ass out of the door. 

And then it started, the internal conversations. After about 400 meters I could hear my crazy mind starting to speak up again. I cannot do this, I need to quit, I should do a shorter round. Then I notice that my mind is literally not where I am at at that moment. It was thinking ahead and in my head I was further ahead on the route than I actually was, constantly reminding myself of where I was not at yet. I started thinking, this is what I do with everything. My head is already 500 meters ahead of my body and therefore two things happen. First of all, I actually do not feel my body, therefore I do not hear what it wants to communicate to me. Am I actually enjoying this, or am I indeed in pain? I do not know as I can only hear my crazy monkey mind telling me how I ‘feel’ or what I should do. Secondly, I am constantly living in the future (or the past, depending on where my head is at) telling myself I am not ok in the present. In this case my head is telling my body it is not where it is supposed to be at and therefore could as well quit. Just running for 400 meters already gave me more insights about my crazy monkey mind than many sessions on my meditation cushion ;). I am starting to see why my mind did not want me to go running, it did not want me to figure out he was keeping me from being happy in the present.

However, this time I decided to not directly give into my mind’s craziness and delusional talks and I start getting myself back to my body, asking myself how I actually feel? The answer was simple, I do feel some unpleasurable sensations, but actually I am quite ok. I think I want to continue running. And so I did. As I keep running I can feel my upper back and neck feeling a little bit annoyed and my knee also wants to step into the conversation. As I asked them what they needed, my mind tried to find the chance to cut into the conversation and say ‘quit’, but I started to recognize its voice a bit better and as I asked my body again, both my shoulders and knee said ‘a different posture’. Immediately I knew what my body was talking about and tightened my abdominal muscles. Wow, that felt a lot better. 

After about 3 kilometers I notice that my mind had gone quiet and my body actually started to enjoy the run. I have no idea whether that was because it knew it was close to the finish or because it just was happy to be heard and happy to move. Either way it showed me that listening to my body is less scary than my mind thinks it is. And it actually brought be to a space of peace and quiet.

Lately, it has been hard for me to quiet down my monkey mind and listen to my body. After experiencing quite some stress in my body from the surgery, work and moving, my mind was taking control again. Always. And it simply did not tolerate dissent. In the past year I thought I had gotten better in distinguishing the delusional storytelling mind from my truth bearing body. However, lately the former had gotten the better of me. That week, however, there was a shift. Somehow, with the help of this run, I was able to step out of having the feeling I was my thoughts and I was able to analyze my thoughts more and more again. And that is when I started to realize how ridiculous they were, and how negative. (At some points I actually started laughing at them out loud). However, as I said, the ongoing talking of the mind did not give my body any space to talk. So, I had been searching for the place of peace and quiet for quite a while now. I tried about everything that I thought should help: yoga, meditation, relaxation, hanging out with friends, reading, journaling and keeping a gratitude log. However, the only thing I did not do was listening to the wisdom of my own body, who had been telling me to freaking run. The mind still wanted to keep me sedated under its spell, safely under control. Afraid of what my body would want and tell me. Shaking up its entire reality.

For me this run was very metaphorical, since my life had been exactly like this run. On many levels. Even before I start things, I have the tendency to talk myself out of it or I am literally already in the future thinking about what it could become. But I don’t actually do it. I actually end up in a full-on conversation with myself for days, and not being in the present and not doing anything. For a while now, I have not written a full blog. And even before starting this one, my mind took over. Trying to talk me out of it. What is the use, who reads it anyway, who am I helping with this? Or even worse, I start rebuilding my whole website in my head, without actually writing a damn word. Then, when I do start, I have the tendency to quit prematurely because my crazy monkey mind starts talking nonsense to me again: ‘ I do not want to share my vulnerable stories with others, I am afraid of sharing them with the world, it is not written well, it can never become what you want it to become anyway so you might as well quit or not do it all’  And the worst one of all ‘what you want is not possible’.

Thus, even when I start, I still have this phase where my mind tries to talk me out of it. And it is actually annoyingly good at that. In this case I ended up with a half-written blog, leaving it just to linger in the back of head. However, just like my run, I would find out that once I get beyond the start, it isn’t that difficult at all or it actually gives me a lot of joy and empowerment. And that is how, after a few more runs to get passed my negative thoughts, I finally finished this blog. And you know what, it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined.

I guess what I am trying to say is, sometimes it is difficult to make the right distinction between your crazy delusional thoughts and your body or soul’s voice. Most often because we are afraid for what will enter once we let go of our safety mechanisms and let go of control. We are literally afraid of what our body and gut instinct want to tell us. We are afraid of the unknown. But in the end, this voice is only distracting you from your own true path. So don’t listen to the voice telling you you cannot do the things you want to do. And do listen to your body and soul telling you what you what you dream of. Don’t be afraid to dream, don’t be afraid to start and, don’t be afraid to keep going, because it will get easier. You will get more and more aligned and before you know it, you might even enjoy it. Just like I enjoyed my run. And maybe, maybe you will even enjoy it more than the life you have now. 

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