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Exercise your attention!

September 30, 2010

Trail running will definitely help sharpen your attention. Photo: Mikael Olsson. Runner: me. Location: Vega Island, Norway

There are beautiful images to be found everywhere. A dancing tree in the wind, making it’s music, talking to you; a tree with bright red leaves like sleeping exotic birds waiting for their loved ones to come and save them; every little flower – the shapes, colors, the composition. Every silently falling leaf and the many intriguing sounds of the forest. During trail running in nature you will notice a few things but it’s almost impossible to really hear and see the less evident while moving. However running can take you to places where you can exercise your attention. The first 40 minutes you will probably be occupied with thoughts. It’s normal. But you will come to a point when you are ready for a higher awareness. This is when you can stop and listen, and watch, and feel. This when your attention sharpens, when your gaze focuses, when your hear many, many things. You will see how the light falls, how it transforms and revives objects. You will start seeing shapes of shades everywhere and reflections, like the ones moving on cars when you pass them, or in windows, or on wet surfaces. Stay there! Dig deep!

So look out for glitter and lustre. Look out for falling leaves. Look out for dark chocolate mud! Look out for the sensation of flying as you jump over a wet log! Look out for the moments to come; where you put your feet; where you put your thoughts; where you put your energy…

This is what I’m talking about. There is a bliss, a very beautiful bliss, in running with awareness. That’s how you can make your runs even more interesting and inspiring. Every run can be inspiring. Beautiful. Amazing. Fantastic. Afterwards you can keep that feeling, you can stay attentive. You can watch things with the same peaceful, joyful inner smile. Being is amazing. Running can actually help you discover and appreciate that. So, next time you run, try to exercise your attention instead of pushing and pulling yourself towards some “goal” or by sheer habit. You might have noticed that I never use the term “work-out”, which I think implies something that is only physical. Run free instead, and stop and listen when you feel like it and watch! Indulge the beauty of Being!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2010 12:43

    I find it difficult to get clutter out of my brain. I will sure try attentiveness during my runs.

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      September 30, 2010 13:58

      Just be aware of your clutter. Instead of resisting it you can repeat the question: “where am I?” What do I make of this run? Is the clutter, the dwelling over past and future, more important than being present, here and now? The past has already happened, it’s nothing you can change, and the future is in the future, maybe it won’t occur at all. You don’t know, so you don’t need to spend too much time worrying about it.

  2. September 30, 2010 12:44

    Oops, submitted before I finished commenting.

    Beautiful writing, as usual.

  3. October 7, 2010 20:44

    Hej Fredrik,
    I just found your blog and there is lots I want to read on here. I see you are a fan of Eckhart Tolle too!
    I was just wondering: do you have hunters in Sweden?
    From about now through to spring here (in France) it is the hunting season, and fear of being shot stops me fully enjoying running in the woods. At least the need to be alert keeps me in the moment!

    • fredrikolmqvist permalink*
      October 10, 2010 21:42

      Hej Pauline and welcome to my blog! We have hunters in Sweden, but since I’m mostly running in nature reserves close to the city I’m never bothered with hunters, however I can understand your concern. My advise is thus to explore new safer trails. Usually there are fun single trails to be found even in parks, botanical gardens and in recreational areas where people move leisurely. Explore and enjoy!

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