The windhorse is an allegory for the relationship we have with our breath. It comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Everything we do, starts and ends with a breath. This applies to a restful nap and it applies to a maximum effort 5k race. Sakyong Mipham, in his book Running with the Mind of Meditation, calls our breath the “life force energy”. By paying close attention to our breath we can develop an enhanced awareness of our surroundings and of the present moment. The windhorse is an allegory for the mind’s control over the act of breathing. The horse represents our breath (wind). Sitting on the horse’s back is a jewel, the rider, which represents our mind. The meandering thoughts that we experience in our own mind, especially as a beginner in mindfulness practice, is like an untamed horse, running wild and out of control, the rider has no control. As we learn to pay attention to our breathing, and observe our thoughts, we begin to tame the horse. As we learn to be closely aware and mindful of our breathing, we are connected with the life force energy; with that energy we can do incredibly more than we ever thought possible.
What does this have to do with running and fitness? Everything. You can go through life without ever paying attention to your breath and be just fine. But if you want to take your fitness to another level, to go farther and faster than ever before, then learn how to become aware of how you are breathing. Meditation, mindfulness, and fitness go together naturally. As you run, think about the windhorse, galloping with ease and grace.
To learn more about mindfulness and its role in fitness, stay tuned to the latest blog posts from Windhorse Running or consider signing up for a 12-week supported training plan.