Exercise and Meditation
The breath, it slows. The heart, it beats with ease. The mind, oh the restless mind, it’s at rest.
This is the common experience of the individual who combines exercise with meditation. They aim to raise their heart rate through exercise in order to experience the bliss that follows. They have mastered the ability to exist moment to moment, inside the expansion and contraction of each breath they take. The goal? Inner peace.
They are the modern day monk, the spiritual warrior and outer commoner. They walk amongst us, speaking, working, thinking and living as we do, but they remain above it all. Their peace is perpetual. Fear, anxiety, depression and worry cannot attach to them, for they are like the waters of the mountain river, constantly fresh and cleansed by the melting snow. They are in a class of their own, but a class available to all that apply.
In today’s society, meditation and exercise are all too often separated entirely. Yoga is the closet example we have. But where does the runner, the weight lifter, the walker, the cyclist and all other forms of exercise come to dance with meditation? Even in our own lives, i’m sure we can recognize the fact that when we exercise, in whatever form it takes, we do not think to incorporate meditation. Although there is no negativity associated with this, the fact that meditation remains outside the framework of our exercise practice, we are missing out on the incredible benefits.
As most of us know, or have directly experienced, modern society is plagued by stress, anxiety, depression and consumerism. All of which effect our lives of inner peace and poise. Luckily, science and scientific studies have begun to show that meditation and exercises can combat societies intensely negative traits and turn its citizens into peaceful, present minded, community members.
A recent study out of Rutgers University (Alderman, Brandon and Shors, Tracey, “Exercise And Meditation Help Beat Depression”), took 52 individuals who suffered from two of societies painful disorders, anxiety and depression and another 30 who did not. Each day, for sixty days the participants spent 30 minutes engaged in mindful meditation, which was immediately followed by 30 minutes of aerobics exercise. At the studies completion, the individuals who suffered from anxiety and depression, enjoyed a shift in their thought process and reported a significant drop in thoughts that were pessimistic and negative. The students of optimal health and well being reported an increase in life satisfaction, optimism and thought control.
Let’s allow this study and others just like it, to be the scientific inspiration that we will now apply to our own heart, to our own mind and to our own life.
The Monkey Mind
Most of us are the same in one simple truth. Our minds never stop moving. Our “Monkey Minds,” as we can refer to it, never stops jumping around, thinking and entertaining each and every thought that happens through its space.
Each thought is like and apple or banana that the Monkey, although not hungry, cannot help but take a bite. In the end this habit leaves the Monkey full beyond necessity, sluggish and unable to function. Lo and behold, this is the exact moment that the Bengal Tiger comes around the corner and the Monkey is unable to climb to safety.
We can liken this analogy to our very own minds. Our inability resist the thought temptation, leaves us in a constant state of anxiety and our lack of focus makes it next to impossible to function or perform simple tasks.
Long term. This can have devastatingly negative effects on our lives. All because of this restless Monkey. Lucky for us, with meditation, this little creature can be tamed!
Principles of Training
Whether you are training to stay in shape, relieve stress, have fun, stay healthy or keep up with your group run buddies usually there is some motivating factor.
However, far too often I see runners are looking for a quick fix, an immediate result or a shortcut. The reality is, there is no shortcut. You get out of running what you put into it, so how do you train to avoid injury and achieve your goals?
There are training principles, which are the foundation of any training programs and even though many coaches and magazines have written about them, many beginners and veteran athletes don’t understand or overlook them. Possibly because they are not as easy to understand or are as intuitive as most people think.
You may be asking what are you talking about, what are training principles?
Simply put, the principles of running/training represent basic laws that govern our bodies and how our bodies react to repeated stress of consecutive workouts.
The principles of training tell us how to create and follow training plans to take complete advantage of the work being done while avoiding injuries or overtraining. These are fundamental principles associated with the influences of your training effect on you and your running.