MF 13 – Lisa Hamilton of the Conscious Runner – Running as Meditation Practice

MF 13 – Lisa Hamilton of the Conscious Runner – Running as Meditation Practice

Interview with Lisa Hamilton of the “Conscious Runner”.

“Running is my form of meditation, my meditation practice.” Lisa Hamilton

 What brought you to a meditation practice?

Trying to eliminate chaos in her life, and also in her mind, and connect to peace in a nutshell.

You mention a natural disaster, hurricane Hugo in your book, what is the role of that major (traumatic) event in your life?

Lisa says that it did transform her, and she was traumatized by that experience. She still finds herself shivering and having other symptoms when there is  a storm. it can leave remnants. It still to this day has somewhat of an effect. She doesn’t necessarily think it changed the way she views things. She’s always known that there’s more to life than money, cars, etc. Just a knowing that there was more to life..

She wasn’t brought up that way, it was a painful upbringing. In part to escape that pain, she had to believe that there was something more to life.

What problem where you perhaps trying to solve with your meditation?

She didn’t approach it as a specific problem, like working on forgiveness, progress, or self-esteem. I wanted to solve the problem of chaos and unhappiness. Once I could connect to source into the present moment, that all of those other things would disappear. Going for the root than dealing with the limbs and for the branches. 

I don’t look too much for the branches. She always knew that there was something even larger than that. That if she just addressed the root cause (her chaos and unhappiness), then the rest would just fall away by itself.

You mentioned you had to love yourself, imperfections and all. Did that chaos disconnect you from being connected. 

Yes, some of that came from the Oprah show. She love Oprah like a mother. Back in the 90’s, Gary Zuchov was one of her favorite spiritual teachers. The world wasn’t ready for that at the time, she was crucified for it. But Lisa knew there was value for her in those interviews. She resonated with those interview. She played those over and over again, and learn more and more from it.

She said Gary was lighting the path for her, she decided to stick with it. Because this was the way she was going to “get it”. After this things became more clear to Lisa, that she had to love herself, imperfections and all. She is a great soul, that every place is a holy place, not just in the confines of a church. It can be anywhere.

Did those teachings turn you towards a meditation practice?

She turned towards running as a meditation practice, not sitting meditation. She could not resonate with that practice. She learned that meditation is anything that you can use that brings you into the present moment. Meditation is just a tool or a technique. There are many meditators sitting in cross legged positions who are not really meditating. They just look like they are.

So running is my form of meditation, my meditation practice.

Did you just discovered it?

Yes, she discovered it, she just knew it.  That was her form of being able to connect with source, and the present moment. And to experience her mind and body the way that she wanted to. Her running is more directed inwardly from the kind of feeling that she wants to have, and those are the tools to help her get that.

So you didn’t have a teacher or way to know how to know to get out of your own way?

Yes, any time your minds are in the way, it prevents us from getting into the now, the present moment. Whether we’re focused on the past or the future. She did go to a class in meditation and she found that sitting meditation did not work for her. Sitting meditation does work for her in a sauna, because of the heat. Which helps her with her thoughts.

Tell me more about how the thoughts when running, prevent you from getting into the zone, or peak performance. 

Yes, anytime we have thoughts, thoughts carry energy. Negative thoughts are heavy, and positive thoughts uplift us. If you carry a log of negative thoughts, they can actually make you stop (literally) where your body stops. Next thing you know, your legs feel like legs.

But changing all of that is literally only a thought away. Focus on what’s right and positive, and you can be restored.

Explains her experience with wind and trying to run, and she could barely move her legs. So she started to think she couldn’t do it., but then she stopped, and got her mind right. Then when she got back on her run on the trail, and it ended up being her fastest repetition out of the six, and it was into the wind. And all she changed was her mindset!

It’s the difference whether she goes out for a run or not, it all begins with the mind. 

Expand how your beliefs are another layer that affect your thoughts?

Yes, there are different layers, thoughts are like particles in the air. We can’t always control what comes into our heads, but we can control what stays there. Part of what does stay there, is what resonates with the believes that we have underneath it. So you have all these thoughts that are floating around, and we pick the ones that resonate with the beliefs that we already have. And letting those go that we don’t.

If you have positive self-beliefs, then the chance are you’re going to pick the positive thoughts in this massive thought cloud. Whereas with negative believes, you pick the negative ones.

With pulling out something at the root. If you don’t just go after the thoughts, but go after the underlying believes, then all the other thoughts, you don’t have to fight with the problematic thoughts. Once you think your’e worthy, lovable, you don’t have to work at confidence, self esteem, and peripheral things.

What would you say with those who struggle with the self-limiting beliefs?

Replace and address and replace the beliefs with more positive ones, and do the inner work to change the beliefs to more positive ones. Stay in the present moment, which allows those beliefs to transform. Staying in the present moment helps, there is no past and no future, there just is. And our beliefs come from the past.

How do you define success with athletes?

A lot of time we think success should look a certain way, influenced by our parents, teacher, etc which dictate how we define success. Success is defined by how content you are, how much at peace you are, or how whole you are. And not necessarily by what time you got on your run, those too of course are successes.  But let’s not miss all the other successes in addition to those.

Yes, the sport won’t always be there. It will transform. You do find that with athletes, they lose themselves in sport, and when the sport is taken away, they don’t know who they are anymore. Any time we’re identified with a role. It isn’t just with athletes. You see it with other professions, so identified with their job, or mothers with children who leave, etc. Anything you become identified with.

At some point you became connected to something much larger than the limits of your skin?

Yeah on some level she has always known. When things become hard, than that is the place she goes to,  that I’m more than this body, more than this personality.

So there’s also a physical experience?

Yes, I know it. This is what I know for sure, my experience has been.

This changes your stories and way you view the world too?

Yes, it does.  I’m here with a personality and stuff that i need to work through. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in that space multiple times. and it does change everything. You don’t take things so personally. There is more love, compassion, passion, no fear of death. This is what if feels like, when I’m in that space, fully conscious, fully awake, and fully in the present moment.

I too am a work in progress. There are things that happen that take me out of that. When I’m out of that I do take things personally. Then my life does become stressful and chaotic.

What do you do in those cases?

Then I have to make a decision, “so what are you going to do with it Lisa”? Are you going to wallow in the craziness, or meditate, or do some gratitude journaling to get you back there. What role am I going to be in?

So very conscious decision making?

Yes,  very conscious, because I’m experience both. So for me it is which wolf am I going to feed? The one of happiness, joy and contentment and peace? Or the one of greed, and anger, and frustration?

Sometimes I don’t feed the right one..

And then you reap it right as I’m sitting there trying to decide, because it is no fun, it’s suffering!

How do you look at flow?

Lisa looks at it as being in the zone, or being present or connected with  source, different ways of saying the same thing. Like saying God or the universe.

Is that the same as being in the super conscious mind, and the other two states of conscious you mention in your book?

Yes, the superconscious mind is like being in flow, being in the zone, being fully present.

Whereas conscious mind, you can still be conscious, but still not be fully present, you don’t necessarily notice everything around you, so many thoughts still floating around etc.

You call that the inner dweller, the 80 thousand thoughts that are clouding one’s mind, like a veil between you and reality.

Yes, the difference between living in black and white world, and living in color. It’s amazing when you’re in the present moment. How the wold comes alive, how much connection there is, love compassion, awe, magic and beauty. You stop looking at just people, and you can see through them, you can see the souls of who they are. And relate to that, it’s really amazing.

Do you have suggestions for those who seek a particular state of flow, and then when they can’t run, they may not get that state?

Yes, that is part two of her book, where she talks about the practices where you get into the meditative technique in order to run. It goes through deep breaths, scanning the body, visualizations, transitioning the body, mindset things like setting your intention.

The way to make it lasting is by doing the first part of the book, make it part of your life. So that by the time of your run, you’re already in that state. The only true way to truly be in that state is to experience it. You don’t want your book, you don’t want to rely on it for ever. You have to experience it. Everything in the book are pointers, ultimately you have to experience it.

The book takes you so far, to the gate, the rest is up to you.

If you then still struggle, you have to go back and and find out what is going on.

Lisa can only speak from personal experience. Chaos and drama are not comfortable, we say we want peace, and presence, and joy. In a weird way sometimes we don’t chose the right thing. Because the familiar is actually comfortable, even when it’s not good.

Sometimes the familiar is better than the unknown, even though the familiar is not good. Why people don’t change, she mentions in her second half of the book.

Why do we sabotage ourselves? Sometimes I make a conscious choice not to have peace, why do I do that. Because feeling like crap feels familiar. And there is some comfort in the familiar even though it does not feel good.

You can create a new familiar with being in presence. Why am I afraid? Maybe if I leave the familiar, I lose my friends, or it ties me to my family, my upbringing. If I leave the comfort zone, the familiarity.  There’s a lot of layers to this as to why people don’t change.

Yes, maybe small steps for some?

Yes, there are different ways to progress through their lives. Some folks have one really bad night, and that’s the end of the ego attachment, one devastating breakup, their lives just completely crumbling down.