Do you workout?
Do you meditate?
Am I the only one who feels like an intense workout is similar to a meditation session?
Recently, I was at my local gym, taking a spin class and I realized that the classes I take resemble a long meditation session. Depending on the class, for 25-55 minutes I am so concentrated on what I am doing and my breath that I am not thinking about anything or anyone else. And when my mind does slip, I am forced to bring it back otherwise to the task at hand or else I am completely lost.
If you have never meditated, that is exactly what it is. Meditation is a form of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the ability to be present; to engage in whatever it is that you are doing in the moment. And if you lose focus on what you are doing, which is focusing on your breath, you have to bring yourself back to it.
I used to really hate working out. I found it incredibly boring to walk on the treadmill or using the elliptical for upwards of an hour while attempting to be interested in a show/movie. For awhile I was trying to read while on a cardio machine and it was challenging to focus on the words. That hour would go by so. incredibly. S L O W. It was painful and why for a long time exercising/working out was never part of my life. (Plus I never thought I needed it; I was already skinny… who needs to workout when you’re already thin, right?)
Aside from the fact that I am no longer skinny, and would like to see a smaller number on the scale… I know working out is just as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. And I see the results from my workouts in regards to my mental health a lot easier than I see the physical results.
Meditation is hard. It is something I have been wanting and trying to to do for years. Everytime I tried, like most people, I just felt I was “not good at it” and would give up. Until one day I was at work, having a particularly stressful day…. I went out to my car, put on some instrumental music, put my head against my headrest, closed my eyes and just sat, for ten minutes. For ten minutes, I sat in my car, focusing on my breath; breathing in, breathing out. I was well aware of how strange it must’ve looked to some of my co-workers; I am sure most people just thought I was sleeping. I went back into work feeling refreshed, focused, less anxious. Not too long after that day, I took a class at my gym and felt the same way after that workout as I did after sitting in my car for ten minutes focusing on my breath (except I was breathing a lot harder and sweating). From that point forward I started trying to pay attention to what I was thinking about during the workouts. And it was always, nothing.
THAT WAS IT!
When I am taking a class I am focusing on what I am doing. I am focusing on the instructor. I am focusing on not losing my breath. The minute I start thinking about what I need to do after class, how I look in the moment, or something at work… I am lost in class. It only takes a second and I feel completely and utterly lost. After having a few decent meditation sessions under my belt and workouts to compare the two I realized working out is a form of meditation. It is the same principals and concepts but honestly, it is a lot easier to work out than it is to meditate, I feel.
I don’t really tell people I meditate. I used to be really excited about working out and telling people all these cool classes I was taking until someone said you wouldn’t know you go to the gym (laughing). Fuck you too.
Like most things in my life that I find enjoyment and peace from, I keep them to myself. But I wanted to write this to you, the person who has been struggling with meditating… try working out. Like really working out. Step out of your comfort zone. Take a class, go for a jog (I hate jogging but have found it beneficial recently); I am actually really interested in taking a pole dancing class – I hear that is a hell of a workout.
Normally, I do not offer advice. (Because who the fuck am I, honestly) But I will in regards to this – people say to workout with a buddy, if you want a meditative experience… DON’T; do the damn thing on your own. Also, turn your phone off, leave it in your car, put it in do not disturb mode. I know it sounds crazy: working out to your music preference of choice and possibly a room full of people, strangers. You can be in a room full of people and still find peace.
I still don’t meditate as much as I would like, but I do make it a point of getting my workouts on a regular basis. I may not be sitting feet flat on the floor, eyes closed, in a quiet room… but I am getting the same results.