ChiRunning, just like anything else worth learning, takes focus and concentration to really get it right. Trying to remember to lift your legs, lean your body, keep your posture straight and chew gum all at the same time might leave you feeling as though you're using your brain more than your legs. Well, guess what--you should be.
ChiRunning is not only for your running form, but also helps you train your mind to be more quiet, focused and concentrated. By putting your attention on lifting your legs and leaning forward in a repetitive way, you are teaching your mind to focus. When your mind is focused it becomes quiet and uncluttered. To make clear decisions in your life or to be able to do anything really well, you need to be able to focus your mind. This is one of the goals of meditation and one of the great benefits of ChiRunning.
Meditation isn't easy but it's a great practice to train your mind. If you've ever tried to meditate you've noticed that your mind wanders all over the place. It doesn't just wander when you're meditating, it wanders most of the time. The Buddhists call it the monkey mind because it jumps so quickly from one thought to another.
In order to train your body you must first train your mind. Begin by focusing on just one aspect of your running for two minutes at a time. It could be leaning, picking up your feet, your foot-strike or anything. As you attempt to hold the focus, you'll notice how much your mind wanders. If you're focusing on leaning, gently return your mind and your body to the focus of leaning. The key word here is gently. This is part of the practice--don't beat yourself up and say, "I can't do this!" Simply return to the focus and try again.
Eventually your mind will focus and your body will naturally take on the new way of moving without your mind telling it what to do. After training your mind and your body in this way, you'll find you can learn anything more easily.
ChiRunning is good for your running and for your body. The more you practice focusing in this way, the greater chances you'll have of running longer, faster and injury-free for many years to come.
It's also good for your mind and your spirit. A clear, focused mind is hard to come by in our busy, cluttered world and yet it's what we all need more than ever. And when your mind is clear, it allows both your body and spirit to run free.