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Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind

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A unique fitness program from a highly respected spiritual leader that blends physical and spiritual practice for everyone - regardless of age, spiritual background, or ability - to great benefits for both body and soul.
As a Tibetan lama and leader of Shambhala (an international community of 165 meditation centers), Sakyong Mipham has found physical activity to be essential for spiritual well-being. He's been trained in horsemanship and martial arts but has a special love for running. Here he incorporates his spiritual practice with running, presenting basic meditation instruction and fundamental principles he has developed. Even though both activities can be complicated, the lessons here are simple and designed to show how the melding of internal practice with physical movement can be used by anyone - regardless of age, spiritual background, or ability - to benefit body and soul.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Sakyong Mipham

34 books177 followers
Sakyong Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, The Kongma Sakyong II Jampal Trinley Dradül (born Osel Rangdrol Mukpo in 1962), most commonly known as Sakyong Mipham, is the head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and Shambhala International, a worldwide network of urban Buddhist meditation centers, retreat centers, monasteries, a university, and other enterprises, founded by his father, the Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (XI Trungpa Tulku). Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is a high lama in the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. He is believed to be the second incarnation of Mipham the Great, who is revered in Tibet as an emanation of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. Rinpoche is an honorific (meaning "precious one" in Tibetan) commonly afforded to tulkus.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 303 reviews
Profile Image for Terzah.
512 reviews24 followers
May 13, 2012
I do not have an Eastern mindset.

I remember going to a one-off book club meeting with a bunch of women, all acquaintances of my boss, about two months after my twins were born five years ago. Other than some "dates" with my husband, I hadn't been out much. I wasn't back at work yet, and my overachieving breasts made so much milk that being far away from the babies and the breast pump for any length of time was a recipe for misery. But I longed for adult conversation, so when I was invited to this group's meeting, I jumped at the chance.

Which book we read eludes me now. But what I do remember is that we had a great discussion. At one point, someone mentioned how she needed to learn more to "live in the moment." (In Boulder, where I live, you hear this kind of thing a lot, mostly from people who are so Type A they twitch with restlessness during yoga.) My response was, "People say that to me all the time. But the truth is, I don't like the moment at all."

People did say that to me all the time back then. Well-meaning folks were constantly telling me to live in the moment with my twin newborns, not understanding that the vast majority of my moments were like Chinese water torture. Most of the other women in the group were silent when I said this. My boss said, kindly, "Thank you for that honesty." And then the discussion moved on.

Five years later, I still have trouble living in the moment, even though the pleasant ones vastly outnumber the unpleasant ones now. My Western head is full of checklists, plans and goals, and the older I get, and the faster the passage of time seems to me, the more I realize that living in the moment, at least a little more than I do now, would be a healthy outlook to adopt. (I can't promise that I'll ever learn to love the moment when the afternoons with the kids get long.)

It wasn't until I picked up Running With the Mind of Meditation, though, that I realized this also applies to running, my sport of choice. I'm always saying I want to run for the rest of my life. This book has actually given me an idea of why my current goal-driven, failure-anxious approach might need to be altered for that to be the case.

The author, Sakyong Mipham, is the leader of Shambhala, a group of meditation retreat centers, including one in Northern Colorado. Sakyong is also a 3:05 marathoner and leads running/meditation workshops with the same name as this book. (A friend of mine, running columnist Michael Sandrock, has attended the retreats and arranged to get me a copy of the book.)

As accomplished a runner as Sakyong now is, he's been meditating for much longer. So as he got stronger as a runner, it was natural that his first calling would begin to deepen his understanding of his running. The result: first the workshops and now the book.

Many passages in this book spoke to me, but, with my Boston Marathon goal looming over everything I do with running from injury rehab to racing, the passages I most appreciated were in the "garuda" section, which is how the author characterizes the third phase of meditation/running, in which the runner has passed from beginner (tiger) to exultant born-again (snow lion) and now feels like moving into tougher challenges (the garuda, in Tibetan mythology, is a bird with human arms that hatches ready to fly).

Here's a sample:

"In both running and meditation, one needs focus, determination and a goal. At the same time, that determination and goal can become a disease. We are ambitious and are therefore plagued by hope and fear, which destabilizes our training and practice. Thus the garuda phase is letting go of hope and fear--not as a technique to achieve our goal, but as a genuine recognition that hope and fear stifle our potential and infringe deeply on our well-being...Both hope and fear result from the inability to appreciate what we have and what we have accomplished."

The man could have been writing just for me. Other things Sakyong advocates and/or emphasizes throughout the book:
--The beginning of anything will always be the most challenging time; you can and will get through it with the right mindset.
--Running without headphones focuses your mind and improves both your running and your experience of your running.
--Pay attention to your posture as you run.
--Learn to meditate when NOT on the run. Learn to be still. Stillness helps the mind in the same way movement helps the body. Then bring the focus and present-moment attitude of "real" meditation to bear on your mindset while running.

There's much more, of course. I did a lot of underlining and starring the margins while reading. There was true compassion in this book (and compassion is often lacking in the Boulder version of the Zen attitude, which is usually just Western Type-A driven-ness in Eastern monastic clothing). There was also a sense of humor. I feel that Sakyong is someone I would trust, someone whose suggestions would actually help me both as a person and as a runner. I recommend this book to all runners.

(Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book to review. My good opinion of it is my own. I don't finish books that bore me, and I don't mince words if I think a book is a piece of tripe.)
Profile Image for Maria.
290 reviews18 followers
February 19, 2013
Second Reading: February 18, 2013
I plan on starting a running program. The last time I read this book it inspired me to start a running program, but I never took a step.

This time, I'm ready to take the step, I just needed a running-buddy of sorts, a teacher really. I already knew what was within the pages, so I considered this a refresher on the joys found within running.

What I realized this time is that if I live in the moment, and my goal of running is to live in the moment, then I don't have to be a curator of my running history-for good or for bad. One phrase I liked is "The point of motivation is to allow ourselves to see what is possible." I wonder if I focus on the moment if what becomes possible is different than what I expected could be possible. Who knows!

I can reinvent myself, or more accurately be myself in the moment, without thinking it's beyond my scope based on history, or it's too easy based on history. I can figure things out as I go, with the expectation that as I go I will figure out where I am. It's kindof exciting to think of running/life that way. I liked another phrase, "We are discovering that far from making us drudges, discipline brings joy-because it teaches which activities to cultivate and which to discard." Definitely a good way to view the new lifestyle routine.

Also, as I was very cautious in my running to date, I don't think I can say I experienced relaxation in running. I've felt the high based on the rush, but not the letting go-running without thinking. I look forward to that time, whenever it may come. I can't wait to reread this book, again.

First Reading: May 26, 2012
I bought it at Politics and Prose today, and finished it today. The principles of running within the book, and how they compare to meditation are clear and full of joy. In fact, in the beginning I was getting angry because I spent so much time worried about my running performance, and so little on the enjoyment, and how to enjoy it, that I felt like I wasted so much time. However, by the end Sakyong Mipham's joy was contagious, and I finished it content and inspired.

The main principles are (and some may be my words, not Sakyong Mipham's):

1. gentleness in the beginning as I focus on the breath
2. joy at how far I've gone, and enjoying what's available
3. Curiousity of what's available, what serendipity, what intelligent challenge awaits
4. how can this action benefit others
5. the lifestyle change is good and available at all times

I have read many books about running; running marathons, running and writing, running by writers, running by writers who practice zen etc, but this was the most refreshing, and just full of pure joy. It radiated through the pages, and again, the words inspired me.

Would I read it again: Yes
Would I recommend it: Yes
Was the prose elevated to poetry: not really, but I was amazed at how I smiled with joy, and felt elated while reading it.
Profile Image for Peter Clothier.
Author 37 books44 followers
May 23, 2012
I would have been happy to have come across Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind twenty years ago, before my lower back and my hips and knees started telling me that enough was enough. Authored by Sakyong Mipham, the leader of Shambala and himself an experienced marathon runner, the book is part inspiration, part invaluable instruction manual in the parallel arts of running and meditation. Running, I have always maintained, is a mug’s game: do it often enough, run far enough, and you’ll get good at it. Mipham’s book proves my old theory wrong, at least in the sense that training is about a good deal more than the simple pounding of the pavement: there is also mind work to be done.

Although… as the author this book makes clear, the separation between mind and body is an artificial and misleading one. As I train the body, my mind inevitably learns new habits. As I train the mind, I teach the body new paths to discipline, stamina and strength. My own running career had its origins in my adolescent years at public (read: private!) school in England. A duffer at any sport that involved a spherical object, no matter its size or shape—whether soccer or rugby, cricket or tennis—and required nonetheless to participate in afternoon physical activity, I chose cross-country running because it took the least amount of time. I became relatively proficient on the school’s five-mile steeplechase course, up hills, down dales, over gates and stiles and through icy water obstacles. It felt like torture to me then. A reading of Mipham’s book would have helped me to direct the pain into more productive channels.

Leaving school, understandably I think, after this ordeal, I abandoned physical activity of all kinds for a good number of years, returning to running only at the urging—and following the example—of my wife, Ellie, when we were both in our mid-thirties. Again, over the years, I became reasonably proficient over a five-mile stretch. At a time of great professional stress, I was even up to an eight-mile daily stretch, proving the point that the practice of challenging disciplined activities serves as a mutual enhancement. And even though I never acquired the ambition to run a marathon, I greatly admire those who, like Mipham, achieve this feat. Perhaps, had I been aware of the benefits of meditation at the time, it would have been a different story.

Both prolonged meditation and long-distance running are, after all, about discipline and practice. This book offers an exhaustive (and thankfully not exhausting!) program for success for both the runner and the meditator. Mipham explores the many areas of common ground between the two, and lays out principles and practice that can lead to a rewarding fulfillment of one’s personal goals in both. He accomplishes this with reassuring ease and unflagging good cheer, suggesting that the discipline of hard work and the pleasures of relaxation are not, as we too often assume, mutually exclusive---that the two go hand in hand.

You don’t need to be a marathoner—nor even an aspiring one—to learn from this fine book about the benefits of conscious living. In a sense, each one of us is committed to his or her own marathon as we make our way through life. Mipham’s eminently practicable strategies demonstrate how it is possible to run this course with a more generous spirit and a greater lightness of heart.
Profile Image for Yelda Basar Moers.
186 reviews145 followers
January 7, 2014
If you run, meditate, practice yoga or just love fitness, you should absolutely read this book.

I’ve always viewed my running practice as a moving meditation and wondered how the two disciplines converged. When I saw this book, I thought it could answer the many questions I’ve always had about the connection between running and meditation.

Running with the Mind of Meditation is a wonderful read about two very synergistic practices. Sakyong Mipham is a Tibetan lama and leader of Shambhala, a community of over a hundred meditation retreat centers worldwide, and a serious runner, with nine marathons under his belt. He has run in the toughest of climates and the harshest of terrain (for example, running with little sleep in the Indian wilderness at 3:30 a.m. on one trip, and in knee-high snow in post-blizzard, frigid North American terrain, complete with moose and bald eagles, in another.) Saying Mipham is a devotee to both practices would be an understatement.

His voice on the page is calm and meditative itself. His writing style is clear and clean, but also effervescent, brimming with energy and inquisitiveness. There is not a word wasted, or spared. The reader welcomes just another page before shutting the book. It's hard to put down.

He instructs the reader on how to meditate and run properly. The body benefits from movement, the mind from stillness, so together the two practices make up an ideal mind-body practice. In meditation, he introduces us to the stages of strengthening and developing the mind. Long periods of overstimulation can affect our organs and blood flow. As for running, he says it is pivotal to be mindful, wholly present, to bring an attitude of respect, full-heartedness and appreciation to your practice. He applies tools from his meditation practice to running, but ultimately sees the two as separate activities.

Still, he does discuss how the two converge. In what he calls a “dragon run,” for instance, you can run with a deep purpose and connect to an important theme that has come to the surface of your life. The run becomes a meditation as you focus on a chosen thought. For example, if you want to make a change in your life, running and contemplating that change may help you visualize and realize it. Moving the body, and bringing up an important though to contemplate, can be highly compatible activities.

One thing that I did feel was lacking was any kind of explanation as to what happens to the brain during both practices, and if a similar reaction or experience is taking place (for instance, the appearance of theta waves in the brain that tend to appear during meditation or regions of the brain that are activated). This would have evidenced the link between the two practices. Personal experience is fulfilling, but since this is not a memoir but an informative book on the topic, some research or discussion of it would have been helpful.

Still, for lovers of running, meditation, spirituality, sports, I'd add it to your shelf.
Profile Image for Rachel.
645 reviews4 followers
February 2, 2013
I’ve been a runner for over ten years, and practiced yoga for over five years. I noticed an increase in my recovery time and overall health after regularly incorporating yoga sequences and stretches into everyday. Running and yoga both bring a peace of mind. I’ve never practiced meditation but I’ve always been intrigued by it.

Sakyong Mipham is a leader of meditation retreats and a 9-time marathoner. His book, Running with the Mind of Meditation, combined mindful meditation into running in order to bring a better peace of mind and a more meaningful run. Mipham’s book is easy to read and clearly laid out into sections that build upon each other from beginning to meditate and run to becoming a ‘dragon’ (the ultimate symbol of wisdom and the feeling of deep purpose).

I used to always run races with the idea of zoning out, but I found that I actually run better and enjoy my run more if I tune into the simple things like my breath (two in-breathes, one out-breathe) or how my legs feel. I also noticed that acknowledging a pain but not dwelling on it helped me get past the hard parts of the race. In addition, when I feel like I want to quit if I focus on being thankful for my body and being amazed about what is possible I always find the energy to continue. Many of these things are part of running with the mind of meditation, and I enjoyed reaffirming the goodness of these practices. I will definitely incorporate many of these practices into my runs and into my upcoming marathon.
Profile Image for Luke Winders.
30 reviews
December 21, 2012
This book may have changed my life. I'll have to get back to you on that one. Running has certainly changed my life. I began to become less fat and now can't imagine life without it. As I began to increase my distances I realized I would occasionally lose chunks of miles and time and really liked the peace of mind it brought me. This all reminded me of my teenage (beat-gen inspired) interest in Buddhism and half-ass forays into meditation (never got to do the yabyum thing, though). So now I'm definitely listening to less music when I run (sometimes I need that extra motivation still) and trying to expand on the the positivity of my feeling, even extending it to positive action and all that sort of hippy crap that I would never envision saying a couple years ago. I don't apologize for wanting to be a less shitty person or wanting to live in a less shitty world, so there it is.
Profile Image for Kevin Shannon.
54 reviews4 followers
April 27, 2012
I am giving this 2 stars as it is bad karma to criticize Buddhists and I must admit I skipped quite a bit of the latter parts of this lightweight volume. It reminded me of a British sausage, not much meat and a lot of filling, and I think that may be because the subjects are simple; meditation is not thinking and running is putting one foot in front of the other, everything else is elaboration. I do not doubt the sincerity of the compilers, maybe my western mind is too rigid for the truths written here, so be it..
108 reviews3 followers
January 6, 2020
Sin duda, mente y cuerpo se deben sincronizar en la carrera. La forma en la que el autor enlaza la meditación con la carrera, es magnífica. Solo los que corremos, sabemos lo que esto significa.
Profile Image for Steffen.
6 reviews
November 29, 2020
The book is well written and I enjoyed reading it.

However, it probably won't improve your running at all. I would recommend it to runners with a spiritual touch who want to read something about running. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who meditates already and who wants to start running.
Profile Image for Alia Makki.
419 reviews33 followers
April 18, 2017
One of the most powerful messages that I got from this book was the part where he discussed a transcendental stage in running. The stage where you start thinking about purposes beyond yourself. Inno, like what the Prophet used to say, إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لِامْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ

Deeds are only with intentions.

What intentions could you have for others while you're doing something as solitary as running?

It came to me very easily. I'm a Saudi woman, and I use that label as often as I needed to encourage myself to move and do awesome things with my body. Things that I have to fight for. Things that I must earn and protect and practice, because I can never take them for granted as givens.

My body is my canvass. What I can do with it, is what I wish for others to do with theirs. I run and meditate and practice yoga, because these things make me so happy, and I wish every girl have that kind of happiness. A happiness that is ingrained within her nerves and muscles and tendons. Regardless to social norms or political background.

While trying to compose these thoughts, the loudest naysayer is the voice in my head that's saying, "Who are you to represent feminine ideals?"

I nod to this voice in my head. Then I take her out for a run, with the intention that, by the time we come back, she'll be happier and less offended of herself.
Profile Image for Pierre Fortier.
436 reviews5 followers
February 6, 2017
Je retournerai souvent vers ce livre qui tient maintenant sa place dans le rang de mes références, de mon inspiration et de ma motivation. Puisque la méditation est axée sur l'attention portée à la respiration, puisque la course à pied est également basée en grande partie sur le contrôle de sa respiration et la volonté que celle-ci devienne plus performante et efficace, Sakyong Mipham inter relie les deux activités avec sagesse, simplicité, pertinence et sobriété. Pour ceux qui méditent et qui courent, pour ceux qui courent, pour ceux qui méditent et pour ceux qui ne font ni l'un ni l'autre, ce livre nous permet d'être une meilleure personne une fois terminé. J'y retournerai souvent afin de faire en sorte que la méditation devienne pour moi aussi naturelle que l'entraînement physique. Paix.
407 reviews67 followers
October 30, 2013
If you're passionate about running and meditation, you'll probably enjoy this book, but I doubt you'd get much from it. It's mostly just his thoughts on meditation, running, and some of the parallels he sees between them. He talks about some of his marathons. He uses animal analogies, the tiger, lion, garuda, dragon, and windhorse, to represent the phases of advancements, both in running and in meditation. Reminded me a little of martial arts. Some of this book inspired me somewhat in my running and meditation, but otherwise, I got nothing from it.
Profile Image for Benjamin Zapata.
200 reviews16 followers
March 5, 2014
"Movement is good for the body; stillness is good for the mind." - Sakyong Mipham. "A profound guide to the integration of mind and body." -Larry Dossey,MD. Now that I'm getting ready for this year San Francisco Marathon(2014), this books has been a great help and inspiration in training my mind and body. Having ran nine marathons and one ultra himself, Sakyong Miphan brings together his wisdom about meditation and running in this wonderful guide that is sure to help you on your runs through the trail and through life.
Profile Image for Ran.
11 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2019
It's a great book drawing parallel of running and meditation. Why didn't I think of this before? It's interesting to learn about the four stages of meditation and running according to ancient Tibetian beliefs. The book also gives good suggestions on exercises you can do to improve the mind and body based on each stage. Now, I am eager to go out for a run.
Profile Image for Sharon.
470 reviews29 followers
August 7, 2022
Leaving this unrated because I didn't listen to the whole thing super closely. Unfortunately this book wasn't very helpful for me.

I read the book because I've been trying to make sense of how important running is to me and how badly my entire life is impacted when I can't run due to chronic injury. I thought that if I could articulate what made running so powerful for me, I could apply that to other exercises that I can still do while injured. I was also trying to open myself up to the idea that running isn't interchangeable with other kinds of mindfulness work like sitting meditation.

Instead, after learning about all the training stages and the animal metaphors, I came away more convinced than ever that the way I run (no music, fully focused on breath and muscles, scanning the world around me, holding different thoughts in my mind) is legitimate mindfulness work; basically that I've been doing things right all along, even though I'm self taught. I also found the stuff about how we're naturally healthy to be dismissive, and the advice to go ahead and endure pain to be downright harmful. Enduring pain through sheer mental discipline is how I ended up with a foot that was broken in three different places. I guess this must work for some people, but I know it's a provably bad idea for me.

I also didn't like the breathless and intense audiobook narration. I know this is somewhat subjective, but I found it stressful to listen to, which is part of why I didn't listen to the book very closely.

Other books about exercise that were much more impactful for me: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Running Like a Girl, Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being
Profile Image for Michelle.
753 reviews4 followers
March 21, 2019
I've been wanting to read this for a while. Meditation and running are both great for clearing the mind, and everyone needs balance and clarity in their lives.

Some simple tips to help you be more mindful and how to connect your running to your mind. Nothing life-changing but things I can apply to both. 3 stars.
Profile Image for Jaiprakash.
160 reviews4 followers
March 24, 2023
Very few books talk about meditation and running in the same sentence. This is one of the gems that bring both running and meditation together. You get to see the similarities in both the fields, and how to translate between them and apply learnings to become a better runner and a better meditator.
10 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2017
In order to become well versed in a certain topic, one must dig deep for information that is not generally taught. Being a runner myself, I was looking to advance my skill level to the next level. A coach from a nearby town recommended this book because it allowed him to expand his knowledge about running. However, I was interested in the book to utilize the methods being taught by Sakyong Mipham, who is a high lama in Tibetan Buddhism. Teaching many strategies to improve the strength of the body and mind in order to get them to work together, Sakyong delivered many meditation exercises to be used while running. Sakyong, a brilliant instructor, takes you through the steps necessary to use meditation while running to improve your mental health while taking on the brutal sport. Although I enjoyed most of the book, I mainly thought that Sakyong tying stages of meditation to the respective animals they represented in Tibetan Buddhism in order to deliver a broad topic in targeted fields worked very well. On the contrary, I was disappointed by the regiment required to utilize meditation while running to the fullest extent. However, to this day, I am still working on forwarding my ability to utilize meditation while running because of this book.
42 reviews
July 4, 2021
An interesting book. Didn't find it enlightening, but here are the nuggets I found from the book

- The mind will always find reason to not do things
- We never experience things fully (ex. watching tv and eating, using the computer multitasking)
- Confidence makes things seem smaller, so gain confidence through moving the body and gaining knowledge
- Panoramic awareness (feeling the internal you and the external things around you. Experience being alive)
- The mind is like tofu. It absorbs everything externally (what you consume) and internally (what you think)
- Don't be fixated on what is wrong. Not cultivating what is working
- Acknowledge the pain and go through it, but don't blame it.
- If you want to be miserable, think of yourself. If you want to live happy, think of others
- Types of pride:
1. From position/rank
2. Wealth/possession
3. Intellectual (what you know)
4. Prowess/youth/beauty
5. Pride of thinking you don't have pride

A good overall book.
5 reviews
January 4, 2019
I first saw this book in the window display of a new age store in my city, and made a mental note to read it. Several years later, I'm glad I finally picked it up.

Personal context around the subject matter: I am a more seasoned runner than meditator. Like many, I find consistently practicing meditation difficult. Whenever I fall out of frequent meditation practice, it is easy for me to unconvince myself of the magnitude of its positive impacts. Yet running has always come naturally, and of course is meditative in its own way.

I was hoping that the book would give me tools to reach deeper meditative states while running. My scheme was this: If I could truly fuse the activities of meditation and running, then I could simply run more, and meditate less.

While Mipham does give insight into the interweaving benefits of the two activities, it doesn't take long for him to draw a clear line between them, using the metaphor of a wild horse as the mind:

"Even though there are some mental benefits in running, they are usually achieved not by taming the horse, but by exhausting the horse."

As far as my scheme was concerned, this was unfortunate news. But luckily, Mipham's defense of the utility of meditation, and accompanying practical guidance, were extremely well delivered. Gentle, yet very logical and convincing. The stages of practice for both running and meditation are clear and helpful. In addition to inspiring me to pick up meditation again, the book gave me a new comparative framework for my level of experience with running vs. meditation. Here is an example of a paragraph where Mipham makes an explicit connection between practices:

"We can use meditation as a cleansing process—the time of the day that we do our mental laundry. Doing the laundry, we feel fresh and uplifted. Therefore, after a long day, take ten, twenty, or thirty minutes to meditate. Sitting there, placing the mind on the breath instead of on your worries, you are developing the ability to alleviate your stress and strengthen your mind. Then try applying that skill to your running by placing your mind on the environment rather than on your thinking process."

The parts of the book that I am predisposed to enjoy the least were Mipham's stories about his own running. Yet I actually ended up liking these sections. Maybe because Mipham is a Llama, his personal anecdotes were pretty light on self-absorption, and he always brought things back to the message he was trying to deliver.

I give this book a maximum rating because it surprised me with how deeply it moved me. I was prepared to like the book, but its message was luminous and variegated beyond my expectations. Aside from the message, the writing didn't have to be as beautiful as it is.

-From the poem "Freedom" at the end of the book:

"What electricity comes forth in the sweat I feel in my mouth, inspiration that allows me to traverse disbelief, laziness, and daydreaming. When I breathe, all of those windfalls pass by as billowing clouds seen by a boat set sails across the waters of confusion, summer, and time".
Profile Image for Kate.
2 reviews2 followers
August 11, 2013
I am not aware of any other books that bring together running and meditation as clearly or at such length as this book. For this reason, the book is inherently interesting for someone who is interested in or practices both (such as myself). It is conversational in tone, dare I say 'breezy,' and trots along at a nice pace from start to finish.

The basic premise of the book is the application of Shambhala meditation principles (Tiger, Lion, Garuda, Dragon, Windhorse) to running. I'm knowledgeable about these principles from taking Shambhala classes and reading other books by the Sakyong and his father, but the novel application to running actually helped me understand the concepts more clearly than before.

I started running about 6 months before I started to read this book, so the introductory material about running was at a good level for me. Thinking about running as a mind-body practice has probably helped improve my interest and discipline. The chapters were mostly short and self-contained, which made it nice to read for inspiration before or after a run.

Two small critiques of the book:
(1) At times, the audience is a little unclear. Is it for runners interested in starting to meditate? Or meditators who want to run? It provides introductory material in both practices, so it may be too basic for either the advanced runner or the advanced meditator. I thin it is best for (a) someone who has dabbled a little in either or both, or (b) an advanced practitioner of one who is willing to cultivate their 'beginners mind' while learning the other, or (c) someone accomplished at both who is eager to devour anything that bridges the two.

(2) The last few sections are much shorter than the earlier ones, which made me feel like the T-L-G-D-W framework did not totally work. The Dragon and Windhorse sections were quite short compared to the earlier ones. Was there really so little to say? I don't know; maybe if he wrote for another year, these chapters could have been just as long and rich as the prior ones.

I'm not sure this book will turn meditators into runners or vice versa, but for anyone who already cares about both it is well worth reading.

Profile Image for Ci.
960 reviews6 followers
July 29, 2016
Unlike most running books, this is not a technical manual on how to run. Written by Sakyong Mipham, leader of Shambhala tradition, this book is a rumination of running, meditation, and the Shambhala world view. The tone is casual and approachable. Heavily utilizing animal metaphors and personal anecdotes, this book is a kind and gentle encouragement for both running and meditation in a particularly way. Here, running is to gain health and clarity of mind, not a performance in terms of time and distance; meditation is not about reaching spirituality but as a form of secular enlightenment.

According to wikipedia: "Shambhalian practices focus on using mindfulness/awareness meditation as a means of connecting with one's basic sanity and using that insight as inspiration for one's encounter with the world. The Shambhala of Chögyam Trungpa is essentially a secular approach to meditation, with roots in Buddhism as well as in other traditions, but accessible to individuals of any, or no religion."

Major insights:

(1) Running: be attentive to bodily and mind experience in running. Remove modern habits of using headsets or other distractive tools to cope with boredom. Instead, trying to focus on the experience to connect body and mind fully with the aim of making running a joyful and sustainable habit of body.

(2) Meditation: should be a separate and daily training activity for the mind. First stage is to focus on the breath by "placement" of the mind, then progress to vipahsyana mediation by focusing on a content such as "love" and "kindness" as mental anchor. The early stage is similar to Mindful Meditation, and the latter stage is very similar to the Centering Prayer of the Christian mystic tradition. But the author made it clear that the goal is to achieve mental clarity and sanity, not aimed to achieve certain spiritual goal.

In the self-help book on health and fitness, this book stands out favorably on the note of combining running and meditation. In some ways, it is similar to Chi Running in the methods, but with a heavier slant toward the Shambhala tradition.

Profile Image for Matthew.
365 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2023
Erghh, I really didn't enjoy this. It's just cover to cover of nonsense, wispy guff that Mipham seems to think is deeply insightful about life, running and everything in between. When it's not Chapter after Chapter like that, they are then interspersed with Mipham telling us just how great he is, be it as a brilliant runner, person or all round spiritual adonis. Honestly mate, piss off.

He then concludes the book with a Godawful poem where he, I shit you not, ends a line with 'I am sustained with the ultimate elixir, my goo-ru' then goes on to explain that Goo is an Energy gel and you know, it likes sort of sounds like 'Guru' doesn't it?

Like I say, total twaddle, glad I read it on my Kindle as if I had the physical book I would have had to drive to the ocean to ding it into it the depths.
Profile Image for Prashant.
55 reviews2 followers
July 3, 2018
I came across this book as a recommendation from one of my running friend and the title intrigued me as both the topics 'Meditation' and 'Running' is something which is quite close to me.

Moreover, I also loved the start of this book, however, I started feeling bored when I reached the mid-section of this book. I usually read the book in one go- though I ended up putting this book twice or thrice before finishing it.

I somehow couldn't find anything quite powerful to resonate with me apart from running is a form of meditation and what meditation does to the mind the running have a similar impact on the body.

I would say it's a great book for someone who is just beginning to run else I would not be recommending this book.
Profile Image for Bill Gathen.
34 reviews1 follower
July 26, 2012
A life-changer. Got me much deeper into meditation and helped my running quite a bit, too. Both activities seem dead-simple, but there are such depths to be plumbed for someone who digs deep. They are doorways into enormous worlds that can't be described, only experienced. Without the experience, the descriptions are completely misleading. Try it.
Profile Image for Alyn G.
312 reviews17 followers
November 17, 2016
Fuel for runners and meditators of all levels; includes lots of mantras and tips interwoven with personal anecdotes and Buddhist beliefs. Separating the information into different sections by animal metaphor made the material especially memorable. Like a good run, this book is a soothing, energizing experience.
Profile Image for Jennifer Stone.
3 reviews11 followers
July 15, 2017
I return to this book again and again when I want to re-center my life because this book/memoir is essentially about being in harmony with oneself by setting performance goals, hiring the best trainers, and being disciplined. It reminds me to pay attention to the body so that I can optimize my mind. I love this book for another reason. The author is Buddhist royalty. His life is intriguing.
Profile Image for Max.
762 reviews20 followers
March 14, 2019
I'm not practising yoga or meditating but I do love running, so I picked up this book. I liked it, it was useful. I must say I still don't really meditate and I don't like yoga. But it was interesting.
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