Have you ever tried meditation? You might be thinking, “Meditation? I barely have enough time in between work, life, and kids to exercise, let alone meditate.” But what if meditation could actually improve your fitness and well-being… Would that change how you spend your time to include meditation in your schedule?
Meditation is defined as a practice in which an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. It has been around since possibly 5,000 BCE, but became very popular in the West in the 1960’s. Since then, scientists have studied if and how meditation affects your body, and they’ve found many ways that it can positively impact both your physical and mental wellbeing. Here are only a few of the many ways meditation can help you.
Lower the Risk of High Blood Pressure
Results of a 2009 NCCIH-funded trial involving 298 university students suggest that practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) may lower the blood pressure of people at increased risk of developing high blood pressure. TM is a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness. This helps promote a stress-free state that can often aid in the prevention of high blood pressure.
Help You Sleep Better
We’ve all experienced sleepless nights at one point in our lives. You stay awake with thoughts of what’s going on at work, errands you need to run, comebacks to an argument you should have said (again, we’ve all done this), and sleep becomes an ever elusive concept. Meditation has been proven by several studies to decrease insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Give meditation a try next time you experience a sleepless night.
Meditation might not be able to take pain away completely, but it helps refocus your mind and control the pain you feel. Meditation has been shown to reduce pain during movement and improve quality of life.
How do you meditate?
There are many different forms and methods of meditation, so starting can seem daunting. You might not know where to begin. Truly, meditation is focusing on your breathing and maintaining a calm, relaxed state. So here are some simple steps from mindful.org you can take to begin meditating:
- Take a seat
- Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
- Set a time limit
- If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
- Notice your body
- You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
- Feel your breath
- Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
- Notice when your mind has wandered
- Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind to your wandering mind
- Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
- Close with kindness
- When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
It’s as easy as that! Give a shot and see how much it rest and refocus it will being to optimize your fitness routine. From the many studies that have been done, we can confidently say it is a fact that meditation improves your fitness.
Johnson, J., Domet, S., Bahl-Milne, S., & King, S. (2022, March 11). How to Meditate. Mindful. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/
Ross, A. (2016, March 9). How Meditation Went Mainstream. Time. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://time.com/4246928/meditation-history-buddhism/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Meditation: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth
Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, April 30). Meditation. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation