What if I consider exercise my meditation?
What is meditation?
Meditation and mindfulness are a combination of techniques and practices to settle the mind and body. Think of mindfulness as a muscle, and when we exercise it through meditation, we train our brains to be more focused, engaged, and less reactive. Meditation and mindfulness enhances relaxation, builds vitality and helps us to embrace the peacefulness that the present moment can bring.
What if I REALLY don’t have time?
The ultimate goal is to simplify your life and be more effective with the time you have. I purposefully chose to offer a 5-minute option everyday so you can stay committed and focused on your practice If you are nervous about finding 5 minutes, think of something you do every day, and tack it on to that (ie: brushing your teeth, taking a shower, making coffee, checking social media, commuting to work).
When people think of meditation, they envision big chunks of time of sitting and doing nothing. Then, ultimately they imagine all the things they can get done in that time. but the truth is, you can start with 5 minutes. It’s a matter of prioritizing your time. Think of the time you spend waiting in line for a coffee or perusing social media – you manage to find it when you need it and most of us can find five minutes each day. So in reality, 5 minutes of meditation is better than none at all. Think of it as a mini nap, where you are nourishing yourself and will come out feeling more grounded, relaxed, and at peace.
What are some experiences within meditation that might occur?
- Thoughts: People have tens of thousand thoughts a day. It’s the nature of the brain to have thoughts just as it’s the nature of the eyes to see. So meditation is the practice of having a thought and coming back to a point of focus – gently, repeatedly, and without judgement. While it seems counter-intuitive, having lots of thoughts in meditation can can actually be a sign of the body releasing stress.
- Temperature fluctuations and body itches/twitches: This is also simply a sign of stress releasing from your body. Take note in your meditation tracker.
- Colors: Some people experience various colors. This can be an indicator that you are more visually oriented so visualizations are probably a good technique for your to explore (day 3 of this program).
- Feel like I fall asleep (see below)
This is a common experience. Most likely you are experiencing the transcendence – that space between a thought and the point of focus. This is when we access deeper states of relaxation and consciousness. The transcendent state of awareness in meditation is a natural experience and can sometimes feel like you fell asleep. Meditation will always give you the most purifying experience.
There are 3 primary recommended times of day for meditation:
- First thing in morning upon waking,
- Midday before lunch
- Happy hour between 4-6pm
According to one of my favorite teachers Sally Kempton, “each period of the day has its own particular energy, which affects your own energy field. Traditionally, the powerful times of day for meditation are the sandhyas or junction points. The sandhya is a period in the day when there is a shift in the atmospheric energy. You may naturally notice a tendency to get sleepy during these times.” On a personal note, I like the morning because it kicks off my day with grounding and clarity (and it’s doneJ). You will also note bedtime as an option to explore.
Meditation is known to alter the landscape of the brain – called neuroplasticity. According to Harvard Study in 2011, An 8 week mindfulness meditation program creates measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Some specific benefits include:
1.Increase focus – increasing gray matter in hippocampus responsible for learning and memory
2.Become more emotionally fluent – increasing folds in insula responsible for emotional awareness
3.Decrease stress hormones – decreasing gray matter in the amygdala responsible for fight or flight
We all know that stress is not great for us, yet many of us wear it like a badge of honor where we feel more important, valuable and useful. Stress activates our stress hormones (fight or flight), whereas meditation soothes our nervous system. The body shifts into a state of restful awareness (rest and digest). Meditation can actually help to increase the flow of energy in our bodies, which helps to improve our healing and optimal health. With meditation, we won’t become lazy or too relaxed, but we’ll be clearer, more creative, and better able to respond to situations with more focus and effectiveness. In reality, you’ll learn you can do less and accomplish more.
What if I consider exercise my meditation?
Many people consider exercise their meditation. And in some ways, it can be because ultimately exercise is a great way to release stress. However, the difference between meditation and exercise is that exercise “excites” us as a way to eliminate stress which is great for immediate release and relief. Meditation however is accessing our parasympathetic nervous system and we are able to access those deep states of consciousness and relaxation so we are accessing a deeper state of healing. Having said that, there are some very beneficial mindful movement exercises that can blend both like mindful walking. In an ideal world we are able to both exercise and meditate.