Learning ChiRunning Part I (Beginners Mind)

iStock_000002247676Small.jpgAfter teaching over 300 people, in the past few months, the basics of ChiRunning, I’ve seen many succeed and many struggle to learn the technique. So you can benefit from these basic learning processes in mastering the technique.

1. Run with a Beginner’s mind. It will take time to learn ChiRunning. And you will need to practice. A lot. Not only when you’re running but when you’re not running also.

A guru was visited by a learned man who came to gain deeper insight into the mysteries of life.

The guru prepared tea. While serving the tea he began to explain, but the learned professor kept on interrupting with his own opinions. So the guru poured his visitors cup full then kept pouring.

The learned man watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself, “It is overfull. No more will go in.!”

“Like this cup,” the master said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you anything unless you first empty your cup?”

So what this means is listen to your teachers, watch other runners to see what they are doing well, and read the ChiRunning book cover to cover trying to learn what you can. To really learn a book, you must read it AT LEAST THREE TIMES. So have patience and start tonight with some simple body looseners before retiring.

And if you are an experienced runner or have taken ChiRunning instruction previously, then it is really important for you to have a beginners mind. The old axiom “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” because a little knowledge does not mean mastery or understanding. By coming back to the very basics in this training cycle you will discover a deeper and deeper awareness of your body and how to use the techniques to improve your running.

2. Learn proper posture. Read Chapter Four of the ChiRunning Book by Danny Dreyer. This is probably the most important chapter as this chapter will teach you the technique and form of ChiRunning. It is very important that you do all the exercises as you read the book. I cannot stress this enough. To learn this technique you must feel the postures. You can do it. Just read and study the book 10 minutes a night and you will be through chapter four in one week.

3. Practice. Begin practicing the basic posture pages 63-70 numerous times during the day. You can even do a standing meditation by getting in the posture, setting your timer for 5-10 minutes and just relaxing in this posture by tuning into your breathing.

Practice your posture and tune into your breath during everything you do from now on. Working. Cleaning. Exercising. Watching TV. Just become aware of your posture. Is your spine straight or is it all crooked? Are you taking deep breaths or are you mindlessly breathing with shallow prana depleted breaths?

Because by becoming aware of your posture and breath you will be practicing one of the principles of ChiRunning and many spiritual traditions: FOCUSING YOUR MIND (MINDFULNESS) . Take awareness of how you use your body. Tune in rather than tune out of that wonderful miracle that all your ancestors and God blessed you with. No matter what state it is in. This is one of the primary benefits of your new yoga practice also. In yoga you turn your mind to your breath and Asana (posture). And we thus we learn how our bodies move, how we breath. And when we connect breath and posture we manifest the very basics of yoga practice: UNION.

So when our mind drifts away from your new found good posture just return back to it. Don’t be a victim of a drifting attention but rather gracefully and lovingly return it back to your focus over and over and over again.

4. Be compassionate. An essential part of beginner’s mind is being kind and loving to yourself.

“When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginners mind is a mind of COMPASSION. When a mind is compassionate it is boundless.”
Shunryu Suzuki

Remember when you first learned to do anything? Driving a car. Riding a bike. Cooking a cake. It was fun because you had no idea what you were doing. You could concentrate on the task at hand. And if you screwed it up, it was okay because you were learning. So allow yourself to make mistakes in your running. Its okay. Remember you got into this for fun.
Run with joy,
Gary

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