Mindfulness and Meditation in Exercise During Isolation
In times of incredible stress, it’s important we find a way to re-center ourselves. Regularly. Working out, under any conditions, has always been a phenomenal way to take our minds off of our troubles. Mindfulness and meditation in exercise can provide an added assist when events in the outside world feel as though they may push us past the breaking point.
During this time when “social distancing” has become the norm for so many people, mindfulness during exercise can help us refocus, relax, and recharge. Mindfulness and meditation in exercise involves listening to your body and its needs, ensuring that you achieve a “just right” balance as you train – that happy medium between too much exertion and not enough.
Mindfulness and meditation involve purposefully focusing our attention on not only our thoughts and feelings, but also on the various ways our body systems are working in unison for our benefit. Consider it a subliminal check-in that makes certain all the right components – from your muscles to your circulatory system and everything in between – are “ready for launch.”
When you focus inward while exercising from home, you free yourself from the distractions of day-to-day life. This not only helps you benefit more fully from the workout, but also reduces your risk of injury and boosts your satisfaction with your session.
Here are just four tips to get the most out of mindfulness and meditation in exercise.
- Unplug: So many of us enjoy listening to music during workout sessions, and so many fitness centers employ integrated screens for entertainment purposes while on the elliptical or exercise bike. Shutting out any excess stimuli, though, can allow us to be completely in the moment. At least from time to time.
- Focus on your breathing. While any single step during your workout can provide a point of focus for meditation – from the swing of your arm to the swish of the jump rope – your breathing remains a constant, rhythmic reminder of the energy you are exerting. Pay specific attention to how your breathing ramps up and slows down during each stage of your workout. If you find your thoughts beginning to move away from exercise and to the events of the day – your own breath can immediately pull you back into the moment.
- Soak up your surroundings. Mindfulness and meditation in exercise is all part of being present, or what is known as “open awareness.” When you’re not concentrating on your breathing, concentrate on the space around you; the floor beneath your feet, the temperature of the room, the sensation of light from various corners when you close your eyes.
- Get out of your comfort zone: You say, “I’m not at the studio for my session. I’m already out of my comfort zone!” We hear you. Maybe it’s not so much about “getting out” as it is creating a new comfort zone. Shutdowns and quarantines have put the kibosh on studio-centered exercise for the time being. While we have to go without certain so-called comforts temporarily, we can take solace that different benefits have been made available to us. Since so many of us are staying at home, rushing to make an appointment or trying to squeeze in a workout between responsibilities is no longer as pressing. In other words, give yourself the time to focus on your form and your technique. With each squat or crunch or stretch – put your all into your exercise. And commend yourself for it.
Times feel particularly isolated, now – even for those of us accustomed to exercising in private workout studios. But the distance between you and your trainer is temporary. Your goals are ongoing. And the time to get the most out of your workout, as always, is right now. We look forward to exercising with you again soon!