Running for empathy – William Pullen
In the Fall of 2006, when William and a friend went through rough times, they decided to go for a run.
Ths run changed their lives.
Both friends experienced the healing effect of being outside and present, and of talking on the move. It stopped William from being isolated.
William turned it into Dynamic Running Therapy to help others to feel and run better.
Using a combination of mindfulness, focused questions, and exercise, his approach has proven to be a simple, intuitive, effective, and therapeutic method for managing stress, trauma, anxiety, anger, depression, and other conditions.
“There is a direct link between exposure to the outdoors and mental health, William says. “More and more research is revealing the importance that nature plays in our personal eco-systems.”
But in this age of distraction, anxiety and electronic devices we get overstimulated which impacts our ability to empathize with others and feeling connected.
“People seem to be living busier and busier lives as meals and conversations are cut short. “Fast living” is limiting our opportunities to relate to one another, to the point that some have forgotten what that really looks like while others have never known.”
Exercise, and running in particular, is an ideal way to improve our relationships and be in the here and now.
Most people can recall instances where walking has facilitated deep conversation. Walking and running can result in a step by step “metronomic” sense of real progress and understanding. William says “his clients feel they are taking bodily, proactive steps towards addressing their issues. This allows them to reach deep and locate, acknowledge, and “work” through whatever they bring.”
William’s Empathy Runs are an efficient and enjoyable way to achieve balance between our outer and inner world through connection.
Empathy Runs help to get closer to others and open up, as well as how to listen and ask questions.
Participants run in pairs and are taught to listen properly, which means not interrupting, not bringing the conversation back to themselves, but instead really hearing what is going on inside another, and understanding their feelings and perspectives.
The process reveals to them their abilities and interest in relating to others.
William organizes Empathy Runs for schools and for parents.
Kids are often surprised by what they discover about each other and it is through moments like these that greater empathy develops.
“The greatest gift you can give your child is a sense of being seen and heard; Empathy Runs gives you time together to make that happen,” William says.
Evidence from empathy training for children has shown that it results in greater ‘pro-social’ behavior, like helping and sharing as well as improved grades, reduced bullying and better relationships between students and parents.
William Pullen practices psychotherapy in London, UK.
He also published a book Running with Mindfulness: Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) to Improve Low-mood, Anxiety, Stress, and Depression that explains his running therapy approach and how simple and helpful it can be.
His app is a practical tool to improve low-mood, anxiety, stress and depression.