Mindful Running

Carlos FernandesDopey Challenge, Fitness, InspirationLeave a Comment

Mindful Running

As a certified MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) instructor I am very knowledgeable about mindful activities, and I can’t wait to share with you what happened during my last mindful running experience, but first let me tell you why mindfulness is important to me, and how mindfulness helped change my life.  As I have mentioned before, I am in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  For over 10 years I battled with this disease, I went to multiple rehab facilities and just could not seem to find recovery.  Now in the beginning I really didn’t want recovery, I thought I could casually do drugs when I wanted, if I just sobered up for a little while, and while I tried it, that plan did not work at all.  But in the last few years of my addiction, I was really trying to stop my drug usage, I would put together six months or a year sober, then relapse, then have to go back to treatment.  The bottom line was that I was really trying to find recovery, but couldn’t piece it all together.

After I left treatment for the last time, I immediately began seeing a therapist in Naples named David Llewellyn, I really liked him and liked his methods, so I began following his instructions for recovery.  One of his messages, was that of mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the act of being 100% in the present moment, noticing everything that moment has to offer, and being completely non-judgmental.

Before I met him, my goal was to multi-task as much as possible, why would I give anything my complete attention, when I can be planning my day, or writing an email while I was doing something else.  I assumed this was the best way to get things done.  I was teaching my brain to split it’s focus among a few things at one time, instead of giving all of my focus to one point.  So with David’s instruction, I began to mindfully meditate.  In the beginning it was not easy at all, I was lucky if I could put 30 seconds together.  But with more practice, came more time, and I began noticing that I was being mindful throughout the day, in all of my activities, I wasn’t practicing mindful running yet, but I was mindfully eating, and mindfully talking to people.

This helped aid in my recovery because I was focusing on one thing at a time, I wasn’t ignoring triggers, I was noticing triggers and then working on them, so I never got into a relapse scenario.  It was shortly after when I realized all of the benefits that I had gained from practicing mindfulness, that I began taking a course on instructing others on MBSR, and during that course I honed my practice, so that now, I try to be completely mindful with everything that I do, and that includes mindful running.

What a Wonderful Mindful Running Experience

It was Sunday, and I had decided on 13.1 miles today, I was going to do a half marathon and see how it went.  I was feeling good, the weather was warm but a little cooler than normal for this time of year, there were some storms off the coast that were creating a cool breeze that just felt amazing.  Normally I listen to my earphones while I train, I listen to fast paced music hoping that it will help me keep my pace a little faster, but halfway through my training I decided to take off my earphones and practice a little mindful running.  So I was running and walking, and just taking in, all that the beach had to offer, feeling my every step on the sand, hearing the waves break on the beach, the smell of salt, and the scenery in front of me.

I was right in front of my beach access point, and I knew that I had about three miles left to go, when I noticed a small dark object in the sand.  As I got a little closer, I began to realize what it was, it was a baby sea turtle!  It had recently hatched out of its shell and was slowly making its way to the Gulf.  Most of the time, these turtles hatch in the middle of the night, and follow the moon’s reflection in the water, but this was about 9:00 am, he was a late hatcher, and all by himself.  Mindful Running

Growing up in this area, I have learned that you are not supposed to help any baby turtles to the water, their journey to the water is an important one, and they must make it on their own.  So for the next 20 minutes I watched the little sea turtle slowly make his way down to the water, I did not touch him, I just watched his struggle, something so young, making such a difficult journey, and even more amazing, knowing exactly what to do.  The lack of moonlight reflection and his solitude made his task even that much more difficult.  Occasionally he paused in someones footprint for a brief rest, before continuing on his journey.  After 20 long minutes of work, he made it to the waters edge, the first two waves washed him back on shore, but by the third wave he was swimming, he had made it!

I have lived most of my life in this area, and I had never seen a baby sea turtle.  This was one of the most wonderful and exciting experiences of my life, and chances are, if I was listening to my headphones and just running, I never would have seen the little guy.  My practicing mindful running allowed me to create a memory that I will never forget, and I will be forever grateful to that turtle for allowing me to be part of his moment.




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