Have a big decision to make? Unsure what to do about something? My best advice? Go for a mindful run or walk (Surprise Surprise!). Even for a short one.
When we’re moving our brains tend to open up, cleansing away anxiety and helping us to think more clearly.
For myself, if I have something important on my mind, I head out the door, head for the grass, and immediately get moving. If it’s warm enough, I’ll even go barefoot to plug in or connect with the earth, which studies shows reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and helps quiet the mind. But either way, when in doubt, I get moving…gently.
1. GET MOVING
Dr. Michael Merzenich, one of the leading neuroplasticians in the world, talks about how our brains evolved to think through movement. Back in the day, this would help us scan our environments, hunt and forage for food, and keep us safe. He even goes so far as to say kids—and adults for that matter–get more intelligent, by spending time walking, jogging, and playing in nature. So in essence, we evolved to think and find the answers through movement. (Yes, this does beget the question, am I doing harm or good by asking a child to “sit still and pay attention”? But that’s a topic for another website altogether!)
But what it does mean is if we’re short on ideas, or have a pressing question and we’re not sure what to do, then often the best thing we can do is get up, get out, and get moving.
2. DROP YOUR THOUGHTS
Once you’re moving, drop the thought. Your best answers aren’t going to come from thought, they’re going to come from non-thought, or quieting and relaxing the mind and letting the answer come to you. Whether you’re going out for a 10, 20, or even 60 minute run or longer, even, or especially if you’re trying to answer an important question, you do NOT want to dwell on the topic.
3. PUT YOUR QUESTION OUT THERE, THEN LET IT GO
Your best ideas always come in moments of inspiration, or what I like to call “Ah-Ha!” moments. And the Ah-Ha’s always come out of the silence or out of a place of peace, joy, and happiness…never, ever do they come from wracking my brain. That’s why taking a shower (and even sitting on the toilet) are some of the best times for inspiration to pop through. So to get your best answer, meaning one that’s heart-based or intuitive, rather than one that’s been overanalyzed to death), means putting the question out there, then letting it go, going quiet, and just listening.
4. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH
The simplest way to do this is to ask the question at the start of the run, then go right into focusing on the breath. In other words, go for a mindful run and just have fun with it. You don’t have to worry about the answer, if it’s meant to, it will simply come to you.
So for instance, if you’re unsure whether to accept the proposal you’ve just been given, put it out there. At the start of your walk or jog, first clear your mind, then say to yourself, “I am going for a mindful run, and I’d like to know what I’m supposed to do, do I accept this proposal or not? Thank you.” Now, simply focus on your breath.
Try the 10 Count
If it helps, do a ten count, counting your inhalations and exhalations up to ten, then repeat. For some it also helps to count your steps (inhale, step, two, three, exhale step, two three)
For your clearest answers, make sure you keep the breath slow (the more breaths per step, the better). Realize, if you go out and pound the pavement, pushing hard and driving your heart up into your throat, there’s no time to hear your intuition, and you’re instead panting and winded in a place of fear—NOT the best place to get your heart centered answers!
But jog lightly to moderately and keep the breaths slow and low, meaning deep into the belly instead of shallow in the chest (remember to breathe through the nose, this keeps you out of a state of anxiety), and chances are VOILA, the answer will pop in your head!
So got a question, get the answer. Get up, get out, and get moving. And when you get back, you’ll feel refreshed, invigorated, at ease, and ready to take action!
Be Mindful, Have Fun, and RUN FREE!