I don’t mind exercising. It’s not the first thing I might choose each day, but it isn’t something that I actively avoid either. Yet when I go out for a run or I’m at the gym on one of the machines, there are many negative thoughts that try to creep into my head.
People are staring at you.
They’re judging you.
You’re not good enough.
Some might describe those thoughts as “losing their mojo.” I call it a good excuse to go get a smoothiea, head home, and maybe watch a movie.
Thanks to meditation, I’ve been able to work on those negative thoughts during my workout. When I start listening to what my body has to say instead of the negative self-talk that starts heading my way, there’s a certain amount of energy which appears. It can fuel a longer run, a stronger finish, and better results.
Timothy Olson, an ultra-marathon runner, has said this: “Running is my art and the mountains are my canvas.”
I would adjust that quote just a little for myself. Exercise is my art and meditation is my canvas. That’s because meditation while I exercise has brought me these benefits.
#1. I’m happier when I’m exercising. Some mornings you just don’t feel like doing anything. Just thinking about a run can make me feel tense. By including meditation before and during whatever exercise I’m planning on doing, I feel happier because the negative thoughts have been muted.
#2. I have a lot more energy. I’ve found that when I’m listening more to what my body wants and less to what is going on around me, I have much less tension. I can adapt throughout the exercising process and this helps to ease the tension that tends to build up in my muscles as I’m giving them a workout.
#3. I have less overall soreness. I used to be one of those people who always seemed to pick up a slight injury. It would hamper me for a day or two and affect my workouts. I used to attribute that issue to my desire to go 100% at all times. Through meditation, I’ve realized that I can adapt what I’m doing before an injury occurs because I’m more in tune with what is going on.
#4. I have less pain. Maybe it’s that I’m actually more tolerant of pain. I’m not talking about the pain cues you receive when an injury is about to occur. It’s that initial discomfort you have when you first start to exercise. Those moments when your body says, “Do I really have to do this?” Because I’m not fixating on that discomfort any more, it doesn’t seem so bad.
#5. It lets me do more. Thanks to meditation, my focus when exercising is now about moving forward. In the past, I think it would be more accurate to say that my focus was on trying not to stop.
#6. I focus on me. I used to count calories, track mile times, and be able to tell you what my heart rate would be at almost any given time during my workout. Now those things matter less and how my body feels matters more. By listening to what my body wants, my mind takes a new satisfaction in the ability to exercise effectively.
Sometimes you can meditate right there while exercising. You may need to find a spot with minimal distractions if you’re at the gym. Clear your mind, quiet your brain, and take inventory of how you’re feeling. Don’t judge yourself. Just observe. Then take some deep breaths, build up your endurance, and you’ll find that meditation might help you exercise more effectively too.