As a boy I loved to run just for the sheer animal pleasure of it. There was something magical about moving my body – the feet flying, the churning of the legs, the pumping of the heart, and the rapid breathing – that was immensely appealing to me. I had always been a walker and running became for me a natural extension of this form of exercise.

As a young man with all the usual pressures and deadlines brought on by too much work, running became a release. By removing the stagnant air from my lungs and by focusing on the present moment, I experienced a life-enhancing feeling of true freedom. Oddly enough, the exertion of moving fast gave way to relaxation once the run for the day ended.

As a middle-aged man, my running shifted to the treadmill in our home. This regular form of exercise was transformed into spiritual practice. I picked up some helpful material from Roger D. Joslin's Running the Sacred Path. Here are a few practices I adapted:

  • Prepare mindfully for your run as you put on your socks and shoes.
  • Stretch before you run, focusing your attention on each muscle. Ask God to bless your time and bring strength and renewal to your body and mind.
  • Give thanks for your feet and all the things they make possible in your days and doings.
  • Use music to lift your spirits and bring even more elation to your running experience.
  • Spend the last part of your run opening to the Divine presence.

I no longer run, having shifted to regular walks around the city and on the treadmill, but I feel that I have made the most of this sacred experience. It has been a spiritual teacher for me over the years.

George Sheehan, a writer, doctor, and philosopher, once stated: "Running is not a religion, it is a place." I rejoice in the place that running gave me to see and feel God more clearly and to connect with my body and my innermost being.

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