Running is not only good for health and fitness, it is also fantastic for your mental well-being. There are now countless stories of people suffering with various mental health issues who have turned their lives around by lacing up their trainers and heading outdoors for some running therapy.
London-based psychotherapist and runner Wiiliam Pullen talks about dynamic running therapy and how to practice mindful running for good mental health.
What Is Dynamic Running Therapy?
Dynamic running therapy is a powerful and engaging step-by-step therapeutic method for confronting difficult feelings and circumstances in your life through movement. By bringing together exercise, talk therapy and the ancient wisdom of mindfulness, it allows you to return to a healthy, fulfilled life.
While mindfulness traditionally focuses on the sensations of the body and the environment to ground you in the present, this practice goes a step further.
Dynamic running therapy uses the movement of your body to get you closer to what is going on inside you emotionally, helping you to both understand and process it better.
This dynamic method offers a more empowering and proactive route to recovery than traditional therapy, adding a sense of competency and personal achievement to your journey.
What Are the Benefits?
Dynamic running therapy as a mindfulness practise is great for bringing people into the living moment and out of their heads.
So much of our time is spent worrying about the future or regretting the past. It can make running more fun as it shows you both how to get more relaxation out of it but also how to really connect with your environment.
The program for running with your kids really helps to create bonding and is an ideal opportunity to explore what’s going on in your children’s lives.
The programs for mental health and relationships provide a method to actively explore and address what’s really going on. Its affordable, can be done anywhere and at anytime.
Who Is Dynamic Running Therapy For?
Anyone who can give it a go. Dynamic running therapy can be adapted to whatever level of fitness you have as long as you are challenging yourself physically some degree some of the time.
This means that if a walk is a struggle for you, that counts as dynamic running therapy. Likewise, if sprinting is your thing then you can set that as your pace.
The goal is to find a level of challenge where the blood starts to flow a little faster. There is no need to push yourself too hard or to maintain the same pace throughout the session.
A Guide to Mindful Running:
You can begin each session with an optional mindfulness exercise called the “The Grounding Process”. This involves a scan of your body, environment, and emotions to make you present with what you are feeling and where you are. It also provides you with time to reflect on what you want from the session ahead.
- Once you are on the move, find a comfortable pace. This may be a different pace on different days, depending on your mood.
- Take a moment or two to become mindful of the weather and your surroundings. Be conscious of the colours, smells and shapes around you.
- Once you have a little momentum, remind yourself of your intention to run mindfully.
- When you are ready, choose a foot, whichever feels more comfortable, and count each time it hits the ground. Remember only one foot, and the same one each time.
- Count ten steps, beginning once more at one when you have done so. Keep this going.
- When invasive or unhelpful thoughts come, just acknowledge they have come and then let them go before returning to your mindful running.
- If the thoughts return, then once more let them go. It may take some time for you to get familiar with mindful running and there will be days it is harder than others.
- If the thoughts are saying you cannot go on any longer, ask yourself if they spring from your mind or your body. If they come from your mind they are just thoughts and not the truth, let them pass on by.
- When you find yourself in the kind of zone where the world disappears and it is just you and your steps, then you are in your flow.
- If you want to mix things up, you can try counting your breaths instead of your steps. Be mindful of the fullness of the breath as you do so. Enjoy the sensation of filling and emptying your lungs.
About William Pullen
William is a fully qualified psychotherapist registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). He offers short and long term psychotherapy to adults and young people on an individual basis. He works with people suffering from difficulties including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, negative childhood experiences, relationship and work related issues, substance abuse, as well as others.
William gained an MA from a post-graduate program in Counselling and Psychotherapy at The School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology at Regent’s College, including training in psychodynamics, humanistic and existential psychotherapy.
In 2017, William published his book “Run for Your Life: Mindful Running for a Happy Life” which details out his revolutionary method of Dynamic Running Therapy. It also includes a guide to mindful walking and running as well as programs for depression, anxiety, relationships issues, anger, decision making and a program fro running with your kids.
To find out more about William Pullen, check out his website http://dynamicrunningtherapy.co.uk/
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