Years ago, when William Pullen was trying to put himself back together after an intensely painful domestic upheaval, he took up jogging. He and a friend would meet at a local London park, shuffle into a jog, and start talking. They’d jog and talk, giving their feelings some airtime as they moved through the stillness of the park. Soon, Pullen was leaving his heavy smoking habit as well as his his pent-up emotions and worries behind as he covered more and more ground. And it hit him: This is therapy. In his new book, Running with Mindfulness: Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) to Improve Low-mood, Anxiety, Stress, and Depression (Plume, September, 2017) he details an effective way out of anxiety, depression and other conditions — just by taking a step.
Pullen’s own transformation via sneakers and conversation inspired him to become a psychotherapist. He ditched his high-stress and unfulfilling career and launched into studying how to best help others. As an accredited, board-certified (B.Sc., M.A., MBACP (Accred) therapist, he built a unique practice that doesn’t involve a couch much — mostly fresh air and movement. It’s grounded in compelling research around three keystones: first, the power of motion to help the psyche. Second, the power of talking. And third, the power of mindfulness. All together these form a kind of magic triad Pullen calls DRT: Dynamic Running Therapy.
Here’s how it works: First, physical motion enables psychic motion. And when we have the ear of a companionable, trustworthy, empathetic friend, it helps us lift the veil off the secrets we carry. When we talk, listen, and travel through time and space while doing it, the process helps us leave the past and its weight behind — and head into a clearer and calmer mindset. If, at the same time, we also practice mindfulness — being self-aware of our mental, emotional and physical states — that deepens the process, and greatly aids our inner growth.
While DRT is indeed dynamic, and is certainly a form of therapy, you’re not actually required to take up running, as Pullen points out. For those who haven’t moved in years or for physical reasons are unable to hit the pavement for a jog or jaunt, the trick is simply to move. Take a walk. Stretch. Get up and go outside. And then, keep moving. Keep talking. Stay mindful.
Pullen’s book is far more than a treatise: it’s an effective, inspiring guide that’s filled with practical exercises and sound advice. It’s based on up-to-date research, including studies on the effects of exercise and meditation on anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other conditions. It’s grounded in a solid understanding of physiology, but it’s also a celebration of the synergy of mind, body, and spirit. And it’s also far more than a running book. Unlike other books that encourage running for fitness and tout the peace of mind as a secondary benefit, this one integrates running with mental health in a very specific way.
And it’s a book will leave you with a sense of optimism and hope you may not expect. We all have the potential to help ourselves rise up out of the depths of despair, calm our restless, anxious thoughts, boost our own confidence, and even stop our dangerous dependence on drugs or alcohol. It lives in ourselves, just waiting for the chance to head out the door — and into the clear light of day.
For more on William Pullen and Dynamic Running Therapy, visit his website