Many people feel that when they exercise they want to tune out or distract themselves because it’s boring, hard, painful, monotonous, and so on.
Many people also avoid mediation for similar reasons, i.e. it’s boring, time consuming, and they don’t understand the point. The purpose of meditation is really just to stop your mind from going a thousand miles a minute, you know, like it normally does. It’s a tool that people use to help teach themselves how to relax and control their mind, rather than letting it run crazy and, in a sense, control them.
Making health and fitness funMeditation doesn’t have to be sitting cross-legged in the dark with incense burning and Zen music playing. There are many ways to meditate. You can even meditate while you are doing other things, which is called a walking, or active, meditation. This is what I am suggesting by combining your exercise with your meditation. Rather than tuning out during your workout, try tuning in. You don’t have to close your eyes or chant Buddhist chants, you simply focus all of your attention on your breath, in and out, and on the count of your reps. If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to what you are doing right now. Look for the things that you appreciate most about the exercises. Notice how great it is that you have the ability to move your body in the way that you do. If you exercise in front of a mirror, specifically look for the new muscles and strength that you see developing and focus on the areas of your body that you appreciate most. If you exercise outdoors, really soak up the feeling of the sun and the wind on your face, or the smell of the trees around you. If you work out in a gym, take time to appreciate the fun people you get to exercise with. By paying special attention to stay in the moment, focusing on the rhythm of your breath, the repetition of your count, and by noticing the sensory-type things around you, it helps to slow things down. It relaxes your brain in a way that is similar to the benefits of traditional meditation. I know it sounds silly, but the more that you take time to really look for things to appreciate and live in this moment rather than thinking about the past or the future (what’s next), the more it becomes a habit and a part of who you are. And the more you do this kind of thing, the more fun your health, fitness, and life in general will naturally become.
What are some things you notice when you make your workout your walking meditation? Check out the entire Live Well 360 30-Day Challenge series.