As fitness professionals we often talk to our clients about different ways to improve strength, endurance, and flexibility. We spent a lot of time talking about taking action, getting moving, and feeling good! Today is different. Today I want to encourage everyone to STOP, to simply sit, and do nothing more than listen. I want to invite everyone to consider meditation as a part of their fitness routine.
I know there are several reasons why people don’t meditate. Let’s clear up some misconceptions right away. Meditation is not prayer and is not a religious practice. Meditation is simply directed concentration. Meditation is focusing awareness onto the breath or a phase that is silently repeated. Sometimes people will focus their attention on an image they can see in their mind. The point is that while you pour your attention into one thing you can not give that attention to anxious thoughts or the other mental chatter that fills our brains.
Other misconceptions about meditation…you don’t have to fold yourself into a pretzel. You don’t have to sit on the floor. You don’t need a guru and you don’t have to chant.
Think of meditation as an opportunity to simply breathe. This is a chance to find silence in your day and to give your brain a few moments rest. All you need to do is take a small amount of time. And I know that time is the biggest obstacle to overcome, so let me be clear. If you have never meditated before just start with two minutes. I am not joking! Just two is all you need. Sit or lay somewhere comfortable, set a timer, and be still for two minutes.
In full disclosure that is how I began. I felt like sitting in silence for twenty minutes twice a day would be impossible! I did not have that kind of time. So, I started really small. I found a comfortable spot, set my phone’s timer for two minutes, closed my eyes, and listened to my breath. After about three days of two-minute meditations I decided I could spare four minutes. From there it slowly grew. And, I do mean slowly. I got stuck at seven-minute meditations for several weeks, but I am now up to about fifteen minutes on most days. Getting here took me about a year, but it is so worth it! I feel like the time I sit in silence does as much for my health as when I am working out. Of course science backs this up!
Meditation benefits the body by:
Boosting HEALTH…Increasing immune function, decreasing pain, and decreasing inflammation at the cellular level.
Boosting HAPPINESS…Increasing positive emotion, decreasing depression, decreasing anxiety, and decreasing stress.
It CHANGES THE BRAIN…Increases grey matter, increases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive thinking, and self-control, and it increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention.
Improves PRODUCTIVITY…Increases focus and attention, improves memory, and improves creativity.
All this from doing nothing!
I don’t want to make it sound like this is easy. It is a practice. It does take disciple. Doing nothing can be difficult, but be patient. Know that there aren’t meditation cops out there that will punish you if you do it wrong. There is no right way to meditate! It is okay to squiggle. It is okay to get distracted. It is okay if you can’t clear your mind right away. Just know that the more you practice the easier it becomes to sit, to clear your mind, and to listen to what is happening around you and within you.
If you are interested and ready to get started, but need more help please check out some of my videos. These are guided meditations to help move you through breathing, relaxing, and just being.
Full Body Meditation: This relaxes the entire body so the mind can rest while you connect with your breath.
Focused Meditation: This meditation uses a simple counting technique to help focus the mind and relax the body.
Gentle Breathing Meditation: Take a few minutes to quiet the mind while focusing on the breath.
Of course, I am always happy to help. If you have more questions or would like further insights feel free to reach out. The fastest way to get a hold of me is to leave a comment in the ‘Get Fit Today’ section on this web page.