Use this method to process traumatic experiences and work through challenging emotional states.
My favorite way to really catch up with a friend is to go for a walk.
Some prefer meeting for a drink or lunch, but I love to walk and talk. A newly developed type of therapy combines movement and talking as a way to heal from trauma, anxiety, depression and addiction.
Expressing emotion has cathartic effects, running gives you a certain type of euphoria, and mindfulness helps you stay connected with what is happening in the present moment. The combination of all three, termed Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) by its founder William Pullen, is an opportunity to process traumatic experiences and work through challenging emotional states.
Pullen, a psychotherapist, offers a guided version of DRT in his book Running With Mindfulness. He clarifies that at the heart of DRT is coming to a place of self-acceptance. "It offers a way to learn to be more accepting of who you are inside and of the things that have already happened to you. It helps you value what is real in the here and now, not the stories that you tell yourself.” In tandem with accepting yourself is being patient along the way; letting yourself take your time.
The process involves these three steps:
- Ground. This is a process of becoming fully present, stepping away from the busyness of the day to prepare yourself for DRT.
- Body Scan. Sitting comfortably, settle into your breath and use your awareness to scan through different areas of your body.
- Environment Scan. Shift your awareness outside of your body to what is around you. Simply notice any smells, sounds, and sights.
- Emotion Scan. Become aware of any emotions you are feeling in your body in this moment. Be sure to focus on what you are currently feeling, without getting wrapped up in past emotions.
- Priming. Set yourself up for your session by choosing a question to focus on. Pullen offers different questions for the various issues people may be dealing with. For example, you may ask yourself, “Where does the majority of my anxiety come from?”
Pullen offers specific insight and questions for those dealing with anxiety, depression, difficult relationships, and anger. He offers the opportunity to ask some tough questions, but encourages a sense of total acceptance with whatever comes up.
DRT can be practiced alone or with a partner, and Pullen offers suggestions for setting up a partnership that will serve both people. The “listening partner” should focus on being non-judgmental, filled with empathy, and completely present, while the “sharing partner” should let go of the need to entertain or get it all out at once. Good partnerships take time, and this one must be based on trust and acceptance.
One of the exceptional experiences of DRT is the opportunity to enter into a flow state and, as Pullen writes, “the way in which it gives you a combined sense of momentum and confidence. At times the struggle to get to know ourselves and find self-acceptance can overwhelm us. Flow provides bodily and emotional reassurance that we are on the right track and that we have what it takes to get to where we need to go.”