Nowadays, between work, running errands and participating in social gatherings, our schedules are pretty full, making it hard to find some time to squeeze in a few hours dedicated solely to our self care. When faced with the decision of choosing between meditation and physical exercise, most people would rather go for the latter, thinking that it would bring out the most tangible results.
Their mistake is assuming that the two activities are an alternative to each other and cannot be combined. As a matter of fact, movement can be interpreted as a vehicle for a deeper self-awareness, which is precisely what meditation is about. Therefore, if you’re one of those people who have crossed out the idea of trying to exercise mindfulness because you feel like you’re unable to sit still for an hour straight, this article might provide you with some tips for killing two birds with one stone by including meditation in your workout routine.
1. Focus on your purpose
Most people tend to think of exercise as a way to get to their ideal weight and body shape. These goals are however not achievable right away, and not being able to see immediate results can cause demotivation and stress, which is the opposite of what a good workout is for. In this sense, try tackling your workout with a meditative approach: focus on the present moment, don’t rush through it thinking about things outside of what you’re doing. Take pride in all the small victories that each exercise is bringing you and challenge yourself to go a little further each session. Focus on the immediate outcomes of your workout, you’ll feel less stressed, more energized and, most importantly, satisfied with yourself.
Meditation is all about the idea of being in touch with your deeper sense of awareness and spending some time simply free from the stresses and worries of life. The best way to achieve this state is by unplugging completely. In order to tame your mind from its seemingly unavoidable wanderings, try disconnecting yourself entirely from any distraction that could divert and influence your thoughts. Try completing an entire workout session without listening to your music, talking on the phone or watching the tv-screens at your gym. Be fully present where you are, and really focus on each step of the exercise.
3. Pay attention to your physical experience
Once you’ve unplugged, you can truly start paying attention to each part of your body: how the muscles are working and contracting, your pace, your breathing, your resistance and tension. By being aware of the involvement of each part of your physique, you’re effectively letting go of your thoughts and harmonizing your mind with your body. As a result, your heightened awareness will let you flip over the common notion of “no pain, no gain”, because you’ll be able to work with your mind to sustain the pain that you might be feeling, and making it feel less draining.
4. Perceive your Surroundings
As it’s the case with meditation, a good workout should not be about the finish line, but rather about embracing every step of the way. There are two ways of directing attention, either open awareness or focused attention. Based of the activity you’re involved it, try playing with them, experiment with directing your mind on different anchors for your focus: from the tempo of your breath to the rhythm of your push-ups, from the temperature of the room to the feeling of the soil under your feet. This will prevent your mind from wandering outside of the realm of your activity, and will intensify the feelings of effectiveness and satisfaction from your workout.
Are you still searching for the right motivation to start your workout session? Try listening to this uplifting music to set you in the best mindset.
Will you follow any of these tips to make your next workout more effective? Let us know in the comments!