Meditating through Exercise
Do you ever feel the strains of the day-to-day events?
Meditation is a mindfulness practice which allows us to achieve mental, emotional, and physical peace and awareness. It is a method of training, but instead of training your body, you train your mind.
Some of you may think – “Nah, I don’t want to just waste my time sitting for hours trying to clear my mind.” We hear you.
Meditation doesn’t have to just be about sitting still on the floor cross-legged for hours, or through yoga. You can also meditate while you’re exercising. By doing so, you’re able to fully appreciate and enjoy your workout more, as research suggests.
It is all about mindfulness, which is something we can easily attain by including these practices into your already-present workout routine:
- What’s your workout playlist like? Is it filled with slow, peaceful instrumentals or fast, upbeat radio hits? Chances are, it’s the latter. Leave those earphones behind, disconnect and unplug. In order to fully connect with yourself, you have to first disconnect. Be completely present in your workout and your surroundings.
- Before you begin, pause. Think about what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you want to do it. Do you want to shed a couple of pounds, get rid of those love handles, or even simply just to get fit and be healthy? Next, why do you want to meditate? Are you doing it to train your mind to be calmer yet aware at the same time, or are you doing it to help you get through your days and all its hurdles? Pause, and think about these two things.
- You’re all stretched and set, now what? Whatever you’ve set out to do, take those first few movements. If you’re cycling, start pedalling. Bring your awareness to your body. Does it take more energy for you to pedal as compared to yesterday? Notice which parts of your body feel off, if there are any. While you’re there, observe how your bicycle feels too. Is the seat alright? Are the wheels of your bicycle moving the way you like them?
- Now that you’ve gotten acquainted with your body and your instrument (bicycle, running shoes, etc.), divert your attention to your surroundings. Is it windy today? If yes, how does the wind feel on your body, as you cycle through? Is the sun out? Does it feel nice and warm on your face?
- Keep reminding yourself that pain is only temporary. It’s completely normal to feel exhausted and heavy halfway through your workout. Don’t let that dissuade you from completing your workout. Give yourself some words of encouragement like, “When I complete this workout, I’ll come out stronger.”
- Through all of those, are you remembering to breathe? Not just plain ‘ol inhalations and exhalations. Mindful breathing. When your thoughts start to wander around what’s happened before, or even the stresses of the day, return to your breathing. Use your breathing as a way to reconnect with the present. Notice how the rhythm of your breathing changes as you get further in your workout. Does it match with every pedal stroke you make? Notice how it slows down if you’re beginning to cool down.
- You’ve cooled down and have come to a stop, but that doesn’t mean the end of your mindfulness meditation practice. Reconnect with your body again. How do you feel after your workout? Do you feel more energised than when you began? Do you feel renewed?
- Take this time to pause This time, think about what you’ve accomplished with your workout. Don’t beat yourself up if you think you didn’t do enough, wasn’t strong enough, or fast enough. Instead, be grateful to yourself. Thank yourself for getting up and doing what you just did. You did something that benefitted you, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Your body may ache after your workout and you may think to yourself, “I don’t want to do this again.” Once more – remember why you started. You were completely present from the beginning until the end of your workout. Yes, it may not your traditional definition of meditation practice, but it’s all about being entirely present and mindful. Let’s not let it stop there, though. Remember, mindfulness practices can be easily incorporated into everything you do.