As modern life gets busier and more stressful, incorporating an element of meditation into other hobbies and tasks is becoming increasingly popular. One thing that most people do on a regular basis that lends itself easily to a meditative state is, simply, exercise.
The relationship between the mind and body is the main reason for this. Any amount of exercise will benefit you emotionally and mentally as well as physically anyway, as it allows you to take a break from the stresses of the world and gives you little boosts of chemicals throughout the body that improve general mood and internal well being.
If you are really committed to combining the two, though, there are some things you can do to enhance that effect.
It’s a common habit to exercise with friends or with a partner, to encourage yourself to get it done, to inspire you to go further and do better. To work together so that all of you go further, meet and surpass the goals you set yourselves as individuals and as a team. This will detract from some of the meditative aspects. It will distract you from the mental stillness you need to reach to that state. The option to converse, the sense of competition, will sap at the inner calm that you’re trying to achieve.
FOCUS ON YOU
Don’t compare yourselves to other people in the gym, don’t race people in the next lane of the pool. This is about you. A key part of meditation is the opportunity to lock out the outside world to give your mind time to relax and to return to your day-to-day life feeling refreshed. That’s not going to happen if you’re worrying about all the things going on around you.
CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BREATHING
Count your breaths, be aware of the oxygen flooding into you. Feel it spread throughout your body. Try to identify the physical effect it is having on you, even as you use it up. Focussing like this will help you clear your mind in exactly the way that still meditation does. The difference in the rate of your breathing shouldn’t have that much of an impact on the benefits you feel.
LISTEN TO CALM MUSIC
It’s tempting to listen to something fast and powerful, to push you to exercise harder, to push yourself. But that will only serve to agitate your mind, even if it does drive your body to do more. If you really want your mind to relax, help it. Give it something that relaxes it naturally to encourage it into a more peaceful state.
LET YOUR BODY REFLECT YOUR MIND
Don’t make your body work hard while your mind is trying to relax. Acknowledge the condition of body and mind at the beginning of your session and allow both to progress at the same pace. Let your body push itself harder at the same rate your mind drains of worry. Let them work together to reach a state in which you feel that both aspects of you are at peak condition, when your body is going at its hardest and your mind is at its clearest, and maintain it for as long as you can. Stepping back into the real world afterwards will have a far more noticeable change if you’re not fighting yourself.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.