Seriously, do you know anyone who doesn’t at least talk about meditating and mindfulness, even if they don’t actually do it? C’mon, have you read a fitness-health related website or magazine recently where meditation and its benefits hasn’t been a headline?
Oops. Well, now you have!
That’s right. Meditating can certainly improve your focus and that in turn can improve your workouts, and that in turn improves your health…you get it.
Meditation is the newest medicine, with more than 30 million people in America practicing regularly. Well, actually, it’s not new at all. There are thousands of meditation techniques that have been developed and practiced for more than 5,000 years, with health benefits filling pages and pages of research journals, spiritual guidebooks, and pop literature.
Just recently, for example, one study done at the University of California, reported in the journal Psychological Science, found that meditation helps people focus their attention and sustain it even in the most boring of tasks. Research dating back to the 70’s found that meditating Buddhist monks perform better on concentration tasks than most of us. There’s little doubt that meditation fuels concentration and focus, but what else can it do for your health?
We know from research that meditation helps people manage anxiety, asthma, cancer, depression, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, hypertension, pain, resilience, sleep disorders, stability and flexibility of the mind, and of course, acting without reacting.
When you bring meditation to your pre and post workouts, you promote your ability to focus on your muscles and your movements. You focus more easily on your body, feel your positioning, visualize your moving through a tough set of reps, and stay mindful enough to avoid being distracted by others in the gym. Imagine NOT doing that and expecting transformative results from your workout. Won’t happen. You’ll just go through the motions. Fueled by meditation before and afterwards though, your body will demonstrate the results of your improved focus.
Post workout meditation helps reduce stress in the form of cortisol and pain, and with cortisol and pain under the positive influence of meditation, recovery is significantly enhanced.
Are you at home on your own Total Gym? Meditating before working out on the Total Gym can give you clarity of mind, improved focus and increased energy to accomplish your goals. You’ll be able to improve much faster, so make meditation a healthy habit!
But how do you do it? Do you need robes, incense, and are you required to sit cross-legged while chanting mantras? No, of course you aren’t.
Here’s the skinny:
- Stay present in the now
- Stay aware
- Stay non-judgmental
OK, but how? Here are 4 steps to achieve improved focus from meditation before and after working out.
- Whether you are sitting, leaning, or standing, find a comfortable position to be in for about 10 minutes, preferably with your eyes closed to shut out visual distraction. Focus on one thing in your environment if you are more comfortable with your eyes open, and allow your thoughts to simply pass through your mind.
- Begin by observing yourself inhaling through your nose to and exhaling through your mouth, counting your breaths with no goal in mind. Feel your stomach move. Feel your shoulders move. When thoughts pop into your mind, let them fade and focus on your breathing.
- Stay still, and refrain from fidgeting as much as possible.
- Find a word or phrase you can place in your mind to repeat as a focal point – it might be “I can do this,” “Success,” “Ohm,” “Sigh,” or any you find comforting.
It’s not more complicated than that, and yes, something this seemingly simple and easy brings remarkable results in terms of your focus – an essential ingredient in your exercise, eating and thinking, the three legs of optimal health.