Meditation for Health and Fitness

Meditation for Health and Fitness

A Fitness Meditation Guest post by Tom Von Deck, author of Oceanic Mind

The popularity of health, wellness and fitness has become increasingly popular since the days of Joanie Greggains and Richard Simmons. Mind body training routines such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates and meditation have joined forces with the fitness, health and wellness world to create a whole new paradigm around what it means to be healthy.

The fitness industry is now rediscovering the ancient Greek adage, “a sound mind in a sound body”. Fitness centers around the world now feature regular Yoga and meditation classes because of their widely recognized health benefits. Long gone are the days when many people in the west could not separate the concept of meditation from The Beatles and psychedelia. Now, meditation is all about health from the inside out.

“Inner fitness” and “outer fitness” tend to feed on each other. Outer fitness practices such as physical exercise tend to decrease cortisol levels, balance hormones, increase energy and lower stress. Such benefits lead to a healthier inner state of mind. A healthy inner state of mind leads to more efficient use of physical energy, better digestion, higher immunity, better circulation and much more.

Meditation is the art of being present with moment to moment experience as it arises. Experience is triggered by internal stimuli such as thoughts and emotions as well as external stimuli. Normally we either cling to experience or resist it. If you walk into an uncomfortable conversation, you may notice that the breath becomes restricted so that you don’t have to feel what is happening in the moment. Your oxygen levels suddenly drop along with your consciousness. On the other hand, something pleasant may occur. In this case, you cling to it and feel upset when the experience ends.

Such attraction and repulsion reduces our enjoyment of the moment, restricts the flow of oxygen to the brain, creates most of the tension within the mind and body and therefore diminishes health. Meditation is the antidote which restores health to both the mind and the body. Moment to moment contentment balances the brain chemicals, improves breathing and dissolves physical and mental tension so that the systems of the body can work more efficiently. This is why many people practice regular meditation for health reasons.

How does a busy person integrate meditation into a fitness routine?

For starters, you can turn your exercise workout into a meditation for an added health boost. To learn how to do this, it is important to first learn what meditation is.

The concentration part of meditation is what I love to call the art of falling in love. There is generally an object of focus. This can be the feeling of your feet touching the ground when you’re walking. It can be the breath, a visualization of a waterfall, a nonsense word, a phrase from your favorite church song or a picture of a spiritual figure such as Jesus or Krishna. Lovers merge with each other. You want to first find an object of focus that you can fall in love with. Then, relax into it and merge with it. It’s the only thing that exists. Don’t worry about how absorbed you are. You are simply training the mind and increasing its capacity for concentration. With regular practice the results are profound and cumulative, even if you do not notice immediate results.

The mindfulness element of meditation is the moment to moment acceptance mentioned above. When thoughts or emotions emerge, take note of them. Use the word “thinking” to acknowledge what is happening in the moment. Thoughts are like clouds. You are the sky. Let them do what they do best, take note, then bring your attention back to the object of focus. The mindfulness component of meditation has profound benefits on health.

Here are some ideas to incorporate meditation into a workout for greater health.

There is a group of monks who use running as a meditation. The object of focus is the feet touching the ground, the feeling in the legs and the breath. Running is healthy as it is. These monks add the meditation element to running for even greater health and spiritual wellbeing.

Yoga teachers almost invariably remind students to perform physical Yoga exercises as mindfully as possible. The mindful aspect of “Hatha” (physical) Yoga workouts greatly enhances the physical benefits of the workouts. If you’re stretching outside of a Yoga context, be fully present with your stretch and breathe into it. If you’re lifting weights, then feel the moment to moment “burn” and the difference in your breathing.

Exercise workouts are not the only opportunities for mindfulness. I have a concept called “elevator time”. You have 10-30 seconds in the elevator to stretch, pray, visualize, read scripture, consciously breathe, ground yourself by generating feeling in your body or anything that is centering, balancing and leads to peace. Use that elevator time wisely. If you can find about 30 seconds in each hour to do such things, you will notice a great accumulation of inner peace within a few days or a few weeks. Aim for immediate peaceful results in these activities, but realize that the effects are cumulative even if you do not realize short term results.

The wise use of elevator time is the bulk of what I call an “integration strategy”. It’s called that because it is a strategy for integrating meditation into daily life for greater health and peace. Most mind body traditions have integration strategies. You don’t have to use their strategies. Just find the activities that work for you and develop your own strategy. Integration of meditation into your exercise routine is one idea for developing your integration strategy.

Meditation is a habit. You want to do it as consistently as possible. Like exercise, meditation requires dedication and momentum to create lasting health benefits. Sporadic exercise is not as healthy as consistent exercise. Create a specific time for meditation every day – even if it’s 5 minutes. Combine consistent meditation with a solid integration strategy and you will notice profound results in both mental and physical health.

Tom Von Deck is an international workplace meditation trainer, stress management speaker author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course and founder of The Ultimate Stress Blog. Tom’s websites:
Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course Book
Workplace Stress Mangement Site: www.DeeperMeditation.Net

  • Joseph Wright

    Meditation is effective on healthfor anxiety treatment and inner healing to release all the negative thoughts. It also help our stress to reduce.