Movement makes you feel good.
Movement has been the secret medicine in my life for many years. It all started in Junior High school when I joined the cross country team. I was unprepared and wore platform sneakers and got scoffs from all the older kids. It was the era of the spice girls and everyone wanted platform sneakers. Mine were white, about 2 inches and had a cute little patriot star on them.
I eventually got some real running shoes and found myself naturally good at the art of controlled falling. Moving one foot in front of the other. I did well in competition and noticed that I had the inclination to keep up with the high school kids, much to their dismay. I was competitive and loved being in the lime light. It was a beautiful chance for me to shine and get some attention. Things at home were confusing, my parents had just divorced and I needed an outlet to channel my feelings.
Running and movement was the answer and the community environment of other runners, coaches and parents provided the stability that I craved. These people from that early age would become supporting characters in the drama of my junior high and high school years and some even to this day.
Running has since been a part of my life and those early years of running in the woods for cross country practice subliminally fostered a deep sense of love for the natural world. I hadn’t spent a ton of time in nature growing up, mostly to the back yard, the sledding hill, the woods behind our mobile home community where we jumped on fallen trees and found leeches, properties where we put a donation in a box to ride our dirtbikes, and the summer trips to the park to rollerblade and ride bikes with my dad.
Nature and movement were always there but their power wouldn’t be realized until later.
Movement has always felt good. A natural high and sense of accomplishment, even more so these days with electronic devices that raise dopamine levels.
“I closed my rings!”
I love running on country roads and noticing the ways the land changes through out the seasons. As a budding herbalist and birder, my runs are often filled with frequent stops to catch a glimpse of something new in the area. Most recently Brood X Cicadas and last year my first Bobolink, boy was I glad I stopped. To peer out into a field and watch the bobolink acrobatically perched on a tall grass, it’s signature markings telling me that it wasn’t a red wing black bird. Craning it’s head back to let out it’s lovely song. I was thrilled. It’s a memory that lives on for me and sometimes when I am trying to fall asleep, I go back to that moment. I had many amazing bird and animal moments while running and hiking.
Running often creates a space of inquiry and creativity for me. Throughout the run I am able to iron out any kinks, or looping and troublesome thoughts…to sort of sift them out and say…”hmm that doesn’t matter,” or “it’s all going to work out.”
Running had always been my meditation, my prayer, even before I fully grasped the concept of what those two words mean. A space of inner peace. Throughout all the life happenings that have graced me with lessons, running has always been my guiding light.
In the era of self inquiry about energy in the body, I believe that movement helps awaken stuck energy within us. Shifting it, encouraging it to move and to be breathed into new blood, to allow it to sweat out from my pores so it can become pure again. Running is like medicine because it is movement. Movement that tests the body in it’s range of motion. That encourages breathe and connection.
Movement has changed my life in whatever form it takes, yoga, strength training, swimming and of course hiking.
The body was designed to move. To connect you with yourself. The mind can be a powerful agent for hijacking your thoughts throughout the day but if you can even just for 10 minutes, walk in nature and find yourself somewhere, anywhere…you can show your mind the vastness of this place and simply sort things out and recognize the world around you.
An approach I like to take is when first starting my run, is to allow my monkey mind to just sort of let it all out.
“Ah I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Why did he say it like that?”
I regret this….
I should have done that….
and the list goes on and on
and (last one) on.
And then there is a point of clarity and I release those thoughts. It reminds me of a running advertisement I saw many years ago in Runner’s World magazine, of a woman starting out her run and behind her are all of her “to-do’s,” thoughts and monkey mind, in little disappearing speech bubbles, and in front of her was clarity and peace. It must have stuck out for a reason because I knew this was always how I felt during my run.
After my brain does it’s thing, I simply start to notice the world around me.
I try hard not to over label my world because those labels aren’t always important. By labeling we assign meaning and hierarchy of things. (Eckhart Tolle has some great wisdom on this in his book, The Power of Now) My goals are often to get to a point of pure appreciation for each unique moment. Sometimes this is a fraction of a second feeling, other times a few strides. I am filled with pure loving awareness for this opportunity to move my body. The gratitude that this is my gift and that it heals me so well.
Recently as you might have gathered, mindfulness and meditation are a part of my life, it has been my constant as running had often been during my pre-adult years. I don’t run as often as I would like to but movement has come into the picture in a few new ways. I practice yoga, jump roping, HIIT and strength training. I have to thank my sister for that encouragement and close friends who have also made movement and body mechanics part of their lives. My body is now strong and I can feel my confidence rising daily.
As I continue to devote time to myself, my well being, I am learning more about the physiological effects of movement. If you are able to find yourself in a mindful practice while running, you are able to change your brain waves into theta, which is responsibility for creativity, free flow and is genuinely a very positive state to be in. I am still learning about this myself but I have linked a few well researched articles that go into details.
In summary, the best we can do for our world, is to work on our selves, to love ourselves unapologetically and to show this earth suit the love that it deserves.
All we have to do is make room for new growth. Letting something go, so we can let something new in. Our souls were made to reach their highest most authentic selves and what we do daily can lift our souls closer to their purpose. It is my belief that movement is key in this process. If we can introduce movement and mindfulness, we will find ourselves in lifting places that have the potential to not only raise ourselves but anyone we interact with. We are all part of the web of life, of conscious, and even the smallest act of loving yourself can change your whole community.
I hope this writing encourages you to move, to get that energy that prana moving so you can make room for new energy to come in.