“Meditation is often marketed as the equivalent of an executive stress ball, when in reality it is more like a large hadron collider.”
I would never have imagined that I’d be meditating on a daily basis. I mean, who really has time to sit around and intentionally do nothing for 10 minutes or more per day? I didn’t think that I did, and to be honest, even if I had the time I wasn’t willing to commit because I just didn’t understand the point. In fact, after meditating for 2 years I still didn’t get the point.
It’s really hard to describe the drastic changes that meditation can bring to ones life. I really think it’s because the changes are very subtle and they tend to sneak up behind you, until one day you just feel…..different. I view meditation as the ultimate catalyst for positive physical and emotional changes.
Think about it this way: regardless of how good, bad or neutral an experience is, it is processed by your mind through thought. The mind is a sort of middle-man that categorizes your experiences by assigning them an emotion that seems appropriate. You may be asking, “yeah, so what’s wrong with that?” I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it: you don’t have any control over how you feel.
What if you were able to see thoughts and emotions for what they really are and then decide how they will make you feel. What if when you’re feeling angry, anxious, scared or belittled you could just choose to let those thoughts pass over you and remain unaffected? If that’s not the ultimate superpower, then call me crazy!
When I talk about meditation I try not speak in esoteric terms. I think that’s one of the reasons people never utilize this powerful brain tool–because it often sounds ‘woo woo’ or hyper spiritual. My main goal with practicing meditation is simple: to see my thoughts and emotions for what they really are and to understand my consciousness on a deeper level so that I can become better at everything I do.
Some people just can’t seem to find anything interesting when they investigate their minds. I definitely used to be in this category. I could not get over the fact that I was sitting around not doing anything. I felt like I was ‘wasting time.’ But what I didn’t realize is that meditation can actually make your moments on this planet more meaningful and profound if you pay close enough attention. It adds a certain quality to your life that cannot be overlooked.
Now when I look inside my mind it’s like I’m watching (watching is a key word here because I’m observing it, not getting lost in it….most days) the most interesting Netflix show I’ve ever seen. It’s the most unpredictable, chaotic, random, self-sabatoging, reactive thing that I’ve ever seen. It really is analogous to looking up into space on a starry night. Outerspace is as mysterious as the inner space of your mind if you look closely enough– seriously, be honest with yourself for a second, how crazy is it that we are even aware of anything at all?
How is it that meditation can enhance your physical movement practice? I’ll tell you how it’s helped me:
- The Zone: I have much more focus now so I’m better able to concentrate on the task at hand. When I’m exercising I can really zone in and get more our of my workouts. Once you learn how to get yourself into a flow state through meditation, where everything becomes effortless, calm and you become deeply absorbed in your practice, it becomes easier to drop into this state at will.
- Proprioception: Doing body scan meditations has given me better proprioception, so I have a more keen awareness of where my body is in space. This has certainly improved my balance, stability and coordination.
- Patience: I have much more patience and this is very beneficial to my movement practice since a lot of my workouts involve practicing advanced balancing skills, which require a lot of failures. Instead of getting frustrated with myself, I just let those negative thoughts go and continue to train.
- Chill: Learning how to do relaxation meditations has helped me get to sleep very quickly. Rest and recovery are vital if you want to progress with any kind of physical practice. Meditation can help you relax faster and improve your sleep quality, so it’s definitely worth trying for that reason alone.
- Breath: Your breath is your fuel and if you can utilize it more effectively then you will be able to perform at a higher physical level. This isn’t just for yoga either (although it is a great place to start practicing); connecting your breath with your movement is important for any kind of physical activity. Meditation allows you to become more aware of how to breathe in a way that is natural and most beneficial to you.
- Creativity: Improving your physical state is quite simple when you break it down: you need to stress your body in specific ways, force it to adapt, and then recover adequately before repeating. Since our bodies are very good at adaptation, it’s important to add variety into our training sessions. Meditation can boost your creativity in a variety of ways and I find that it enables me to come up with new, fun training ideas. I can honestly say that I’m never board with my workouts because I constantly mix them up to keep my body guessing so that it’s ready for anything.
There you have it. I hope you found my list beneficial. If you’re wondering how you can get started with daily meditation I have a few recommendations:
-Insight Timer is a free app that I use fairly often. It’s got some great guided meditations and the detail they put into their self-timer is fantastic.
-The Waking Up Course is a paid app, but it’s truly incredible. In my opinion, it’s the best way for any beginner to start meditating as it has a lot of really great lessons on how and why you should bee practicing. Sam Harris has produced a veery mind-altering app with this one!
-Headspace has a great intro series that’s free. This is actually how I got into meditation, but if I was going to start over from scratch with my practice I’d use The Waking Up Course.