“You can make any human activity into meditation simply by being completely with it and doing it just to do it.” - Alan Watts
November 18th 2019
Article Quick Glimpse
- Mediation brings your stress levels back to baseline.
- It gives room and space in your mind to decide what attitude you want to present.
- Meditation builds your resilience to stressful situations and increases your ability to remain calm and present.
- Meditation is covering your breathe with awareness, recognising your thoughts and emotions that appear and going back to breath awareness.
- Meditation can produce a state of being fully present and calmness.
- Becoming good at meditation is the same as training a muscle, you become better the more you increase frequency, duration and intensity.
- Training your muscles should be the same as meditating when you are focusing on you breath. Saturate your training repetitions with awareness.
The true purpose of meditation is to connect oneself to one's deep inner Self.
*Basic Mediation - Breathe DEEP into your belly and focus on where the air enters through your nose.
Start counting as you breath in for 10 rounds
As you breathe in count the number 10 for 5 counts
As you breathe out count the number 10 for 5 counts
As you breathe in count the number 9 for 5 counts
As you breathe out count the number 9 for 5 counts
As you breathe in count the number 8 for 5 counts
As you breath out count the number 8 for 5 counts
Do this breathing in and counting the numbers all the way down to number 1
If you can’t get to 1 because you get distracted start again.
This meditation will reset your mental state and focus and can be done anywhere.
There are three aspects of meditation within the human being:
Physical body: this is your limbs, bones, skin and organs.
Inner faculty: The working consciousness, which is constantly changing. This consists of:
Mind: This involves your sensory perceptions, conceptions of pairs of opposites, for example: pleasure and pain, good and bad, hot and cold, etc.
Intellect: The part of your mind that Analyzes, thinks, discriminates, decides, and judges
Ego: Doer and experiencer
Memory: Memories and impressions of life
3. Deep inner Self: The nonchanging pure consciousness. The deep inner Self is the source of all knowledge, intelligence, creativity, and all natural laws that govern existence.
What meditation does is increase connection to the deep inner self. The goal is to be able to create a feedback loop between you and your deep inner self. The ultimate goal is to be aware of your physical self, your inner faculty by continuing to connect to your inner self all day.
Viktor Frankl quotes "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
You could say through achieving a meditative state all day you are giving yourself the ability to choose your attitude, mental and emotional state at any given time.
The Big Benefits
Please see references for these*
Meditation significantly increased exercise tolerance, maximal workload, and delays the onset of depression.
Meditation decreases sympathetic overstimulation and reduces cholesterol. The sympathetic system is your bodies stress system. Examples of this system would be going to the gym, being frustrated stuck in traffic, public speaking or going to a music concert etc.
During the process of meditation, accumulated stresses are removed, energy is increased, and health is positively affected overall.
Meditation increases regional cerebral blood flow in the frontal and anterior cingulate regions of the brain. This basically means more blood flow to the thinking part of the brain that gets blocked by stress.
Increases efficiency in the brain's executive attentional network (error detection, resolving conflict and other aspects of performance).
A study on the effect of meditation on the executive attentional network found that meditators were faster on all tasks.
The sympathetic nervous system can be voluntarily activated following a training program consisting of cold exposure, breathing exercises, and meditation.
A study linked below shows that the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. It shows that this can be done through practicing meditation, cold exposure and breathing techniques.
Healthy volunteers practiced the learned techniques exhibited profound increases in the release of epinephrine (adrenaline response), which in turn led to increased production of an anti-inflammatory response.
Fact: Cold exposure such as ice baths can be a great way to voluntary achieve meditative states and responses.
Meditation Studies show the benefits of:
Reduction in pain (both physical and psychological)
Physiological benefits include reduced blood pressure
Decreased heart rate,
Decreased adrenal use
Decreased breathing pattern
Increased oxygen utilisation and carbon dioxide elimination
Increased melatonin (the hormone that helps you get into deep sleep)
What Does Mediation Do?
Meditation brings your mind and stress response back your bodies natural baseline level.
Your day may start with a bunch of stress responses such as:
waking up to an alarm
quickly getting ready for work
being stuck in traffic
busy at work thinking of other work
thinking about the 100 things you have to do outside of work
thinking about or doing house cleaning
getting ready for the next day
trying to fit in love and compassion to your family/spouse
organise family events or holidays
And 1 hour before bed to relax before you have to get up and do it again until the weekend. Where you may be luck to get a day off!
Living like this keeps the cortisol (stress hormone) high all day (please click here to read the Cortisol article - it's a quick one). When cortisol is high all day your stressed all day. This prevents your body from being able to get into a resting or recovery state.
Being able to get into a recovery state which can be achieved through meditation is so critical for:
Increased decision making
Quality of life
Mediation frees up emotional space and mental power. When you say no to stress and take 20 minutes out of your day to mediate it is stopping the flow of cortisol and stress the same way a dam stops a river from flowing. You then have all this space that you can do something with.
Meditation gives you the awareness, the mental and emotional power to decide how you want to be and think at all moments of the day. It gives you the power to choose how you want to react to different situations.
If you're running on stress you will be more sensitive to other and smaller stressors. This may further increase your stressed state.
If you're in control due to meditation, you may experience not being immediately reactive to different situations. This in turn gives you the ability to recognise your thoughts and emotions before stress kicks in. You then have the power to understand that no matter what you do, think or no matter what situation you are in, you may not be able to control it and all you can do is accept it.
I had a great realisation personally from this.
I get fired up and highly stressed when I am stuck in traffic. I was listening to a very simple meditation whilst driving. What I had realised is that I have no control over being able to change the situation. I was experiencing simply the physical response of sitting in a car but I was feeling stressed out of my mind.
Noticing that this stress response is coming from my own perception, I simply changed my perception. I disconnected with the thoughts and feelings of having to be stressed out and instead appreciated the moment. I recognised that all my physical body was doing was sitting down and that's all I needed to do. Meditating on this forced me to become present. Becoming present removed my stress. I was able to become present and choose my attitude. It turned out to be one of the best drives home ever.
Anxiety = worrying or stressing about the future
Depression = worrying or stressing about the past
The present = no stress
How Meditation Works?
As I have said before meditation can bring your stress back to baseline. There are two types of stress: positive and negative. Positive stress could be excitement or drive to complete something as quickly as possible as the outcome may be good for you. However, due to this positive pressure you do not want to have breaks, you do not want any “you” time and this may cause you to burn yourself out, which may lead to negative stress. You May also neglect yourself family or friends.
It's important to recognise your positive stress to maintain your well being in health. Your health is your wealth. Always invest in yourself first so you can consistently show up as the person you desire to be.
Negative stress is simple, we have all experienced it. Any tension or pressure that makes you feel stressed, anxious, bad, rushed, sad, angry, etc is negative stress.
What meditation does is bring both of these stresses back to baseline shown in Figure 1.
As meditation forces you to be present in the moment any stress about the past or future is none of your concern and you accept what is present. You then have the mental power to choose your attitude. Isn’t that amazing!
How Meditation Benefits Training?
When does muscle grow? Not at the gym that's for sure they grow when you are resting, relaxed and not stressed. Meditation decreases your stress and increases your relaxed state.
Follow your rep movements the same way you follow your breath.
Mind to muscle connection is key for muscle growth. Any quick research on that will show you.
https://www.benpakulski.com/uncategorized/getting-every-rep/ - Here is a link from one of the most respected IFBB pros Ben Pakulski discussing the importance of this.
Meditation increases your awareness of the present, to execute your exercises correctly to get the most out of them, you need to increase your awareness of the present moment of execution.
It's honestly that simple and it really works that well. Genius in simplicity my friends.
Here are some great mediation links for you to start if you have not already (my top 5):
My Own Breath Hold Meditation (advanced)
Waking up Sam Harris: https://wakingup.com/
These have a few freebie meditations that are great to start and repeat.
Alan Watts Belter Meditation - My personal all time favourite
My binaural playlist is also great for trying to meditate or focus unguided: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6peERqjUCFQEzJjnH5Z4Yh