What better way to bring balance to our busy lives than meditation? We live in a world that requires us to be on the go a good portion of our day, and as a society, we have been conditioned to believe that more is always better. In the fitness world, we consistently stress the idea that adequate recovery will do our bodies a service. What about our minds? How do we assure that our active minds are getting the appropriate amount of recovery needed to function? We often forget that our minds control our body, so why not treat our minds to a little R&R as well?! Let’s meditate!
What Is Meditation?
I think the biggest myth about meditation is that it has to be some extravagant, prolonged event complete with gongs, incense, Tibetan singing bowls, and crystals while you chant “OMs” to yourself. As wonderful and magical as that sounds to me, the idea of this set up can be overwhelming to most. Meditation can be as simple as a quick, quiet moment to yourself, or a few intentional breaths to redirect your focus.
Why Do We Meditate?
The essential piece of meditation is not the actual act, but the intent behind it. As with anything in life, you are more likely to accomplish what you set out to do if there is intent – if there is purpose – associated with it. Therefore, you should set an objective. Think about what you would like to accomplish. Do you want to quiet your mind? Do you want to relax your body? Or do you want to just recharge overall? Whatever that is, don’t over think it! That would defeat the whole purpose of practicing meditation! Meditating is also associated with several benefits to the mind, body, soul, and overall performance levels.
Immediate Benefits of Meditation
Whether you are a beginner to meditating or a seasoned pro, you will get instant returns as soon as you engage with this soothing practice. Here are some of those benefits:
- Quiet the (sometimes negative) voice in your head, allowing for new thoughts and ideas to come to surface
- Encourage total body relaxation and help get rid of tension
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions without letting them take control
- Lower immediate stress levels
- Serve as a reminder to be present and conscious
Long-Term Benefits of Meditation
With additional practice of meditating, you will reap even deeper benefits, such as the following:
- Enhance your ability to relax and lower arousal levels when applicable
- Improve sleep quality
- Elevate the body’s ability to heal and recover
- Improve temperament and mood
- Increase ability to perform in high-stress situations
By now, you can easily see how quieting the mind and focusing your thoughts can be beneficial to your sport, to your career, and to your life.
Where Do I Begin?
This is a simple meditation that I practice on a daily. I call it the “Mind-Breath-Body Flow:”
- Mind: Find a quiet place and strip your environment of as many external stimuli as you can. Limiting surrounding distractions will improve your ability to focus on yourself.
- Breath: Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Take an “inhale, hold, exhale” approach. Start at 8 seconds for each stage, and work your way down to 3 seconds.
- Body: Once you control your breath, begin to focus on your body. Let it melt into whatever surface that supports you. Pay attention to how your feet are planted firmly to the floor or how your arms rest in the chair. If you are lying down, ground yourself to the earth. BE PRESENT.
- Take your time: Don’t rush through it. Take the full time that you have set aside for yourself. When you are ready to get back to the grind, slowly start to wiggle your fingers and toes, and open our eyes.
Once I gather myself, I like to end my meditation with a positive affirmation – a statement to refocus my mind on the rest of the day. It can be something like, “I am fully capable of handling whatever today has in store,” or it can be as simple as, “It’s GRIND TIME.” Either way, you leave your practice with a relaxed mind and body to tackle the day ahead with ease.