If you’ve ever listened to our EnVibe Life Conversations, you’ve heard me say many times how my exercise becomes my meditation. Some of you might be wondering exactly how that happens when these two things couldn’t be more opposite from each other. Here are the steps I take to make this process happen.
First, I like to set a clear intention with my workout. These intentions can vary greatly. Sometimes I’m working on centering my body. My focus might be as specific as making sure the left pelvic floor and groin area are turning on as I strike with my left foot in my run. (Wow, that might be TMI!) Or I could make the intention to simply clear my worries and say positive mantras. Such as “I am healthy, I am happy, I am blessed”, over and over during the run. Maybe I’ll focus on my posture or my breath. I can even make my goal to only pay attention to the teacher in a class-setting. And not let myself get distracted. Whatever you choose is right for you.
After I’ve set my clear intention, it’s time to get moving. For the rest of the workout, the goal is to stay focused on whatever it is I’ve set as my intention. It might seem very simple, but it's the hard part. Our minds want to drift and take over during exercise, just like they do when you are meditating. Maybe you’ve chosen to go run with a friend, and you’re thinking, “There is no way I can set an intention and focus while we’re chit-chatting away.” Wrong, you still can. It’s much more difficult to focus on your intention, but it's possible to set intentional goals and occasionally refocus your body or thoughts on them. This is a great exercise to maintain clear intentions even when others are directly involved. Having this skill will help you with your next meeting or conversation that you want to go really well.
My final step in meditative exercise is to express my gratitude. First, I thank my body for accomplishing whatever it is I’ve asked it to do. I thank the earth for allowing my feet to kiss it. I thank God for the breeze on my face. And for my friends I’ve been blessed with who will exercise with me. I give thanks for the class I’m taking and the teacher teaching it. And the list goes on. I find this third part, gratefulness, to be the most important part. I find a sense of peace and calm when I’ve rounded out my exercise routine with these little acts of thankfulness. After all, it’s peace and calm that we are seeking when we begin our meditative practice in the first place.
I hope these three tips help you bring a little calm to your next run, Pilates class, or bike ride. You will get so much more out of your exercise than just physical health. You will boost your mental health as well.